Thursday, April 03, 2008

"Who is really trashing America: Wright or Clinton?"

Further to Obama and the concept/definition of 'America,' an article in Today's Zaman (whatever that is), in Turkey (translated courtesy of Watching America):
‘Friends tell friends bitter truths,'-- a Turkish saying. Reverend Wright's critical remarks about America have raised a furor, most of which has been aimed at the Obama campaign.

No one has asked the question, "Who is really trashing America -- Obama's minister or those who defend America -- right or wrong?" All reasonable answers depend on the definition of America. The "right or wrong" partisans seem to define America as the North American superstate, its people, its government and its history. This America is to be defended at all costs, against all critics no matter what. Anyone who fails in this patriotic duty, as Bill Clinton suggested about Obama, "does not love or care about America," at least not as much as McCain or Hillary do [...]

While this definition of "right or wrong" in America has a long lineage, there is another definition to consider. America can be defined as a set of principles, which inhere in creation, are enshrined in the constitution, have been consecrated in the Civil War and are redeemed by its struggles against its own weaknesses, inadequacies and failures. This is the America that has captured the hearts and minds of the oppressed and downtrodden throughout the world. If one defines America in this way, it becomes a duty to criticize the American past which justified slavery and other forms of oppression and prejudice, like the inequality of women in law and in fact. If one defines America by its constitutional principles, as they have been violated in its history, it becomes a duty to criticize imperialism and other forms of aggression. If one defines America by its ideals, it becomes a duty to hate th present for its continuing racism -- in all its forms -- and its denial of its fundamental values, like the unconstitutional detaining and torture of "enemy combatants."

This series of duties may seem harsh, gratuitous and unpatriotic. After all, no nation-state is perfect. Consider, however, the implications of silence. The "right or wrong" defenders then become the only patriots. They define the real America, saying that injustice, racism, imperialism, torture and violations of the constitution don't matter. America is what it is. Take it or leave it. Like Bill Clinton, they love it as it is.

See also DailyKos defending Howard Dean. Hear, hear.

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