So, Rudy Giuliani has some…interesting opinions about President Obama. The former NYC mayor and failed 2008 Republican presidential candidate recently said that “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.” Giuliani said that Obama “doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” Apparently Obama’s willingness to point out some of the flaws and imperfections of our nation makes him an America-hater. Giuliani is just the latest in a long line of Republican and conservative figures who imply or outright say that President Obama is somehow “un-American.” Not only are they wrong about that, but they misunderstand what it means to “love America” if they think that criticism implies a lack of it.
We are told so often that “America is the greatest country in the world.” But that doesn’t really mean anything unless we define it. We don’t have the best healthcare system (worst of 11 developed nations). We don’t have the best education system. We have a terrible rating in income inequality. We still have major issues of systemic racism. If being “the greatest country in the world” doesn’t bring us the greatest results in the world, do we really mean anything when we say it, or are we just making ourselves feel better?
We are told that pointing out America’s problems and apologizing for her past actions shows a lack of respect and a lack of patriotism. But by refusing to point out America’s past wrongs and failures, we reduce our ability to learn from those mistakes, and increase the chances that we’ll make the same ones again in the future. Only by inspecting our storied history of racism can we understand the ways in which our country may still favor one race over another. Only by truly grappling with the atrocities we have actively or passively encouraged across the globe can we begin to make a better world for all.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” That’s a common saying among conservative Christians who want to speak out against the LGBT community. The thinking is that you aren’t truly expressing love for your neighbor if you continue to allow him or her to live in sin without trying to help show them a “better way.” Why is showing love for the USA any different? The same people who tell us in one breath that they simply must condemn “alternative” sexualities, go on in the next breath to question the patriotism of anybody who dares to suggest that maybe the United States isn’t a bastion of freedom and liberty for everybody. There’s something wrong with this picture.
Ultimately, I think people like Rudy Giuliani just want to ignore America’s faults, wrongdoings, and problems altogether and pretend that they don’t exist. It’s the true “conservative” way, after all–do what you can to prevent the country and the culture from changing, even if that means denying things that desperately need to be changed. We deserve better than that. We deserve politicians and public figures who are willing to call us out as a nation on what we can do better, and who will work like hell together to try to make that a reality. We deserve problem-solvers like President Obama, not enablers like Giuliani.