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Friday, December 26, 2008

A Liberal's View of Patriotism

I am really glad that Joel Stein penned this piece about the differences between Conservatives and Liberals and their love of America. I am glad because not only is it one of the most ridiculous pieces I have ever read but it also unmasks how many Liberals feel not only about their country but about their ideological opponents. The other day, I had a debate with a liberal colleague about universal health care and he told me that I was stupid because I didn't realize that health care is a right and that our government must do everything to make sure that everyone has health insurance. In other words, I was stupid because I disagreed with their position.

This is essentially the position that Stein takes. Conservatives are so patriotic, in the view of Stein, that it makes us stupid. Whereas liberals, according to him, aren't blinded by their patriotism, and so they are able to see that which dumb Conservatives like me are blind to. What's most amazing about Stein's piece is that it is so short on any detail about why he is right. He starts his explanation as such.

Conservatives feel personally blessed to have been born in the only country worth living in. I, on the other hand, just feel lucky to have grown up in a wealthy democracy. If it had been Australia, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Italy, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Israel or one of those Scandinavian countries with more relaxed attitudes toward sex, that would have been fine with me too.

Now, there's no doubt that our freedom and democracy account for much of our greatness. It's also true that the U.S. is not the only country in the world that has these things. Yet, is Stein really saying that there is no difference between the U.S. and Luxembourg? Is Stein really dismissing the idea that it was the U.S. most centrally responsible for bringing peace to hundreds of millions of people throughout the world including in many of the countries that he lists? When was the last time Luxembourg confronted an evil tyrant and freed millions from their grip? In fact, it is the U.S. itself that is most responsible for protecting Luxembourg from invasion. Stein can go live there but he will still be afforded the protection of the greatest military in the history of the world when he does. It seems that Stein is just oblivious to the fact that Europe has nothing more than a token military to speak of and that's because they rely on the U.S. for protection. I guess protecting most of the world from evil and tyranny is something to be marginalized and disregarded in the mind of such an elite intellectual as Stein.

Then, Stein lays out his "laundry list" of problems with America.

This doesn't mean I'm not fascinated by American history, impressed by our Constitution or don't appreciate our optimism and entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, I love everything Hannity listed on his TV special other than Madonna. But there are plenty of things I don't like about America: our foreign policy, our religious fundamentalism, our provincialism, our intellectual laziness, our acceptance of sweat suits in public.

I suppose that Stein would like the neutral foreign policy of a country like Luxembourg, however there is something that Stein misses. When your country is only a few hundred thousand people, you can afford to stay neutral. Being the one and only super power, we are not afforded the luxury of inaction. I would be curious to know what specifically he doesn't like about our foreign policy but that he doesn't mention. No one is saying that America is perfect, however I would say that America is still the greatest country in the world even if we allow sweat suits in public. What's more, he considers America a country of "religious fundamentalism". It's hard to know what he means by those, but I assume by this he means we don't totally shun religion into some back corner. I suppose because we allow those of genuine and deep faith to have a platform, this makes us religious fundamentalists because to secularists like Stein the only religion that is good is one he knows nothing about.

Here is how he finishes his supposition.

When I ran the idea that liberals don't love America as much as conservatives by talk-show host Glenn Beck, who will move from CNN Headline News to Fox News next month, he totally agreed with me, which is precisely why I called him. "It's absolutely true, deep love. As a parent loves a child," he said. "But I think liberals laugh that off, the way the rest of the country laughs off the love Texans have for their state. Texans don't think, 'Oklahoma, you suck.' Well, yes they do -- but they don't think other states suck. They just have a love for the republic of Texas. I don't have disdain for other countries. Well, except for France."

I asked Beck why Democrats rarely share his overwhelming sense of American exceptionalism and Francophobia. "I think it's because in the late 1800s up until the 1930s, the progressive movement started to think the European ideals are pretty good, that it's one big world," he said. "Well, it's not. If you look at all the countries like people, there are differences between people. And I happen to like this person the best." When I look at the countries like people, I love Sweden the best.

I would remind Stein that the so called European model has produced a continent in which the population doesn't have enough children to survive. It has a stagnating economy and frankly what we are seeing is that country after country is looking to get away from its nanny state and go toward the free market ideals that we have here. In France, that's how Nicholas Sarkozy won and in Ireland they cut their corporate tax dramatically and spurred economic growth. I would remind Stein that the U.S. economy has a larger GDP than the next four combined. I would remind Stein that the European model has created stagnating GDP growth and a population that is rapidly deteriorating.

In effect, Stein is right. Generally, Conservatives are more patriotic than Liberals. That's because we are able to appreciate that which makes this country great and the greatest in the world. I will let Liberals espouse the ideas of European ism, moral relativism, and secularism. I will stick to all the traditions that have made America great.


Jimmy said...

Great analysis thanks.

Anonymous said...

Damn! I was going to fisk Stein's incredibly stupid column, but just mentioned it in passing in passing in my Friday Round-up here.

You've done a far better job than I would have. I'll be posting an update pointing to your article. Nice work.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely spot on analysis. I live in upstate NY, surrounded by liberals, and am a recovering liberal myself. Disagreement with a liberal is considered my than enough evidence of stupidity. The simplest method to defeat a liberal in a debate is to use simple facts and logic. liberal's rely on pure emotion. So you will never convince them they are wrong.

One time in an email debate over visitor logs at Bush's White House. I pointed out Al Gore did the exact same thing Bush was doing, withholding them. I was then told the VP's residence is a private, not public building. When I showed him the web page for the Naval Observatory he simply sent a response email stating he had won and I was an idiot. (One needs an extremely think skin having liberal friends.)


Anonymous said...

Liberals don't know what "the American spirit" really is. They just say that because they've heard it so many times. The fact is, anyone who thinks it's the government's job to provide your health care, education, shelter, or employment... isn't really an American. They're just a displaced, disgruntled European. When they say they love America, they're talking mostly about the landscape.

Anonymous said...

Ask one of those leftists who feels so confident that Europe is as good or better than the United States how they feel about the restrictions placed on abortion by countries such as Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Sweden:

Odds are good that liberals don't know anything about that because their love of Europe is neither informed nor reasoned. Like Obama, they imagine what they want to see and fall in love with their fantasy.

Anonymous said...

Criticizing your own country is good if it means there are ways to improve it.

I am from New Zealand. The average person here sincerely believes New Zealand to be the greatest country in the world, and they have their accompanying laundry list of reasons to back it up.

Its the same all over the developed world I suspect. Its called tribalism isn't it.

pst314 said...

"one of the most ridiculous pieces I have ever written"

I think you meant either "I have ever read" or "he has ever written".