A Follow-Up on Barack Obama’s Patriotism

I expected at least some response on my piece on Barack Obama’s patriotism, and I wasn’t disappointed.  "DJ" (as is so often the case with my opponents, from California) expressed unhappiness with it.  So some response is in order.

Let me start at the end of his comment: except for some pieces in the "static" section of the site, this is an opinion site.  My scholarly sites, such as they are, are here (and to some extent here, and perhaps here.)   So there’s no "false advertising" going on.

Second, characterising Obama’s basic attitude as "anti-American" can be interpreted as either "character assassination" (as DJ does) or a singular virtue.  It depends on your point of view.  There are many people in the world today who view whatever comes out of this country as negative, be it military interventions (such as Iraq, and I’d throw in Kosovo, Clintonistas notwithstanding) or the "sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll" and more that comes out of Hollywood, just up the I-5 from DJ.  Should these people be dismissed out of hand?  If such were strictly a foreign sentiment, then Americans could do what they usually do under such circumstances–ignore it. But it’s not; many of the left feel the same way, although they would restrict their anger to the wars.  But many foreigners don’t make such a distinction:  to them, imperialism is imperialism, be it economic, cultural or military.

Beyond that, my point is that any anti-American sentiments that Obama might be concealing are not unique to him.  They are part and parcel with much of the attitude that pervades the upper reaches of this society, and I didn’t need to learn that from Rush Limbaugh.  But the thought of our leaders having this kind of attitude is something that most Americans, of any political persuasion, find very hard to accept.  It doesn’t fit within the ideal construct that many people in the country view their land with.  Ideal constructs, of course, are what public schools are good at teaching, but when students leave reality must be faced.  So it’s better to prepare oneself sooner.

The attitude of the elites is fundamentally unAmerican because the basic theory of the country is different from, say, Europe.  In Europe the ruling classes have a social compact with the masses; give the masses reasonable wages, job security and a broad social net, and the masses promise not to pull repeats of 1789 Paris or 1917 Petrograd.  The U.S. was set up to be a "bottom-up" type of society with suitable checks and balances to keep things stable.  It was also meant to be a land of opportunity to succeed rather than a guarantee of success.  Shifting the U.S. towards a more European construct (which is in reality the result of the platform of both of the leading Democrat candidates) may please many on the top and bottom, but it is guaranteed to sap the dynamism that has put the U.S. in its singular position.  Given the competitive nature of the world we live in, that’s dangerous, be it stupidity or treason.

There are two charges the DJ made that are simply false.

The first is that I am an uncritical supporter of Bush’s agenda.  That’s the same mistake that many who have adversely responded to Spengler’s Asia Times Online (is it unpatriotic to read such a site, DJ?) piece have made.  Both Spengler and I are decidedly underwhelmed by Bush’s Iraq policies.  Let me start with Spengler:

The George W Bush administration has squandered a great strategic advantage in a sorry lampoon of nation-building in the Muslim world, and has made enemies out of countries that might have been friendly rivals, notably Russia. Americans question the premise of America’s standing as a global superpower, and of the promise of upward mobility and wealth-creation.

Now for my own opinion:

Those who oppose the war in Iraq endless talk generally talk about things such as the WMD’s, the "lies," etc.  They’re trying to make a moral case out of it.

For us, the matter is simpler: because of the nature of Middle Eastern society, democracy is presently impossible.  Thus the whole premise of bringing democracy to the Middle East was a chimera to start with and remains so today.

To buttress our case, one only needs to consider the following said on Memri by the Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Sa’id ("Adonis"):

First of all, I oppose any external intervention in Arab affairs. If the Arabs are so inept that they cannot be democratic by themselves, they can never be democratic through the intervention of others. (emphasis ours)

If we want to be democratic, we must be so by ourselves. But the preconditions for democracy do not exist in Arab society, and cannot exist unless religion is reexamined in a new and accurate way, and unless religion becomes a personal and spiritual experience, which must be respected.

The second is his charge that I think Obama is a "wolf in sheep’s clothing."  Obama, to use Winston Churchill’s phrase, is in my estimation a "sheep in sheep’s clothing."  Obama’s danger is not his strength (unlike Hillary Clinton) but his weakness, and an anti-American agenda–intentional or accidental–is most easily forwarded by passivity.  In that respect he is like Jimmy Carter.

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