Friday, September 16, 2005
The America Haters
The radical right calls me an America-hater almost every day. The idea that anyone criticizing this administration hates America and plots treason is spread all over the net and the traditional media. The intention is to make us critics ashamed and fearful of saying anything. The intention is approving silence, the only love that is acceptable to the most extremists on the right.
But it is we, the noisy and complaining ones, who really love America, love her as she is, a gangly teenager with acne and furious dreams and occasional bad mistakes which she then corrects. Love her beautiful mountains and rivers and prairies and wetlands and deserts and cities and all the people that inhabit these, even the ones who think differently. It is we who love what America was, what she had grown to, her promises and her frailties, her ability to learn from errors, to become better, to promise to try, her genius, her optimism, her determination to follow the arc of justice, ultimately.
Yes, we would complain about her teenage fads, about her shallowness, about the serious problems which she didn't know how to correct: the role of race, the role of poverty and the role of violence in a society. But she tried, however unclearly sometimes, and all the voices, even the conservative ones, participated in this trying and made the country ultimately better, closer to maturity, without any loss in the optimism and sunniness that we all prized.
This is the America that was and still is, at least partly, and this is the America that the current administration and the radical right want to destroy. We love her too much to want to see this young country clad in a burkha, to want to see her bent over to carry the heavy moneybags of a few greedy capitalists. We love her too much to want to see her poisoned by mercury and arsenic in her beautiful oceans and lovely lakes. We want her to learn and to grow, not to be forced to sit in a solitary silence, reading over and over the same "thou-shalt-nots" of the conservative bibles.
We critics don't want our America to rampage across this globe, grabbing money and power and leaving behind destitution and death. It is not good for the world and it is terrible for the young country we still are. We are like the parents who love their children, yet see clearly where their frailties lie, and as good parents we tell how to fix those frailties and how to grow stronger while retaining the essential greatness of the child, the teenager, this glorious country of many songs.
How to be mature.
The radical right wants none of this. It wants a country with no kindness, no shelter, no common squares where people can meet. It wants a country in perpetual war, a country where mercenaries and corporations are cared for, where America is but their feeding ground, the silent congregation in some monsterous church for money.
We critics are needed, because we indeed love this country. Our tough love is needed, because it sees with clear eyes. Our patriotism is needed, because it is untainted with false beliefs and childish assertions of how much greater America is than the rest of this earth. We are needed for the very love that makes us named the haters of America.