by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
How should we feel about our country when it has failed to live up to our values? That’s the question that lies at the heart of many of our political debates. …
… At times, gloomy American conservatives have looked at their country and found it hedonistic and abandoning traditional values lackadaisically, ignorant of its own history, lazy and unwilling to take responsibility, dependent, whining, spoiled, and unappreciative of its freedoms.
Gloomy American liberals see a country obsessed with material success, happily embracing selfish consumerism, callous to the poor, quick to lash out at those who are different, and prone to violence. …
… You can look at America and see it as so flawed that its worst policies may have influenced the Nazis. (Of course, the Nazis were looking for any excuse or justification they could find; if America had been a paragon of racial harmony and respect for all, would Adolf Hitler and his gang have been any less hateful and destructive?) If you want to hate America, there’s no shortage of sins, crimes, and flaws to cite . . . but every country has those. The very nature of love is that we look beyond the flaws. This is how we love everything else in life — our spouses, our parents, our children, our friends, and our community. Nothing human in this world is perfect; so love means accepting human frailty and fallibility.
Perhaps some historians will eagerly embrace this notion of America as a malevolent force in the world, an endlessly hypocritical, genocidal, enslaving, violent, exploitive place. But that interpretation is as closed-minded and one-sided as those who refuse to see any flaws in the country.