Remember when everyone liked Rudolph Giuliani? The former “Mayor of the World” was, after all, Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Yeah, I remember that too. But Giuliani is also a right-wing dunce.
Case in point: he recently stirred the endlessly bubbling American political chamber pot when, at a private gathering of like-minded conservative Oompa Loompas held for Wisconsin Koch Brothers organ-grinder monkey Scott Walker, he questioned President Barack Obama’s patriotism. “I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani babbled, “He 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.” Translation: Obama’s
black different; we’re not; Anti-Americanism follows. But questioning a political rival’s love of country is an old American political tactic, and it hasn’t gotten any less vile over time.
Of course, inquiring just how much the dusky-skinned usurper-in-chief loves America has been standard procedure for the Right for years now. There’s a huge willingness on the part of the Republican Party’s mouth-breather base to believe that Obama is a funny-named, possibly Muslim, undoubtably communist “outsider,” and tools like Giuliani are happy to throw these unenlightened baboons chunks of rhetorical red meat. Koch Industries fellater Scott Walker even got into the act when he said he didn’t know if Obama was a Christian. To many of America’s right-wing voters, being American is synonymous with being a reactionary bible thumper. Walker and Giuliani know this, and they bent over accordingly.
As I already noted, accusations of un-Americanism go back a long time. The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart reminds us, for example, that John F. Kennedy endured anti-Catholic bigots who accused him of being the pawn of a nefarious Papacy bent on infiltrating Protestant America. The problem in the case of Kennedy, as in all such cases of “Anti-American” accusations, rests in how you define “patriotism.” In her book To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism, Cecelia Elizabeth O’Leary reminds us that the loyalties and identities that constitute American patriotism have always been “steeped in contradictory patterns and ambivalent relationships.”* Historically, the tension generated by Americans’ failures to put their rhetorical patriotic ideals into practice has often turned patriotism into outright repression.
Citing the work of scholars of nationalism Robert Schatz and Ervin Staub, political psychologists M.A. Depuiset and F. Butera note that there’s a big difference between “blind” patriotism and “constructive” patriotism. Blind patriotism “refers to a rigid and inflexible attachment to the country, characterised by a loyalty without any criticism,” regardless of how that country behaves. By contrast, constructive patriotism is a type of ‘critical loyalty’ that “considers humanitarian value as of fundamental worth.”* Constructive patriots don’t throw themselves like lemmings off of the “my country, right or wrong” cliff. They’re willing to criticize their country when it violates humanitarian values, and they consider this criticism to be essential to their patriotic duty. The Right, as you undoubtably noticed, doesn’t do “critical loyalty.”
Conservatives are drawn to blind patriotism like Sloth to a Baby Ruth. For them, patriotism has always functioned as an absolutist philosophy crossed with Reductio ad absurdum assumptions. These self-professed “patriots” claim that national devotion can only be demonstrated by adhering to a series of unrealistic and overly simplified standards that they themselves spontaneously (and not coincidentally) create. But sanctifying patriotism is a recipe for tyranny. Doing so encourages all kinds of civil-rights violations that range from character assassination to mob rule. When you elevate patriotism to a nuance-free, unambiguous ideal, patriotism becomes whatever you want it to be, and this, in turn, justifies any and all attempts to root out the supposedly un-patriotic.
This has happened before, long before Kennedy faced the taunts of the WASP establishment. Consider the tumultuous environment of fear, surveillance, and coercion that engulfed the American Deep South in 1860-61 — a mere few months before the outbreak of the Civil War. In the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency, the so-called Fire Eaters — virulent pro-Southern, pro-slavery, pro-secession politicians and rabble-rousers — demanded the immediate secession of the southern slaveholding states from the Union. In states like Mississippi, where anti-Union, anti-abolitionist, pro-slavery feelings ran deep, the Fire Eaters stoked a climate of intimidation and terror that singled out any perceived pro-Union feelings as evidence of a lack of southern patriotism. In this maelstrom of paranoia, many Mississippians paid a steep price for their alleged “dissent” from the self-professed patriots’ ideals.
Natchez planter George Sargent lamented this environment of stifling patriotic conformity. “As for this state there is no hope for moderation on her part,” Sargent wrote, “politicians have aroused the worst passions of the human beast,” and the people, being naturally “slow of comprehension,” were susceptible to leaders that were “taking care not to give them time for reflection.”  Indeed, reflection was the last thing on the mind of steam-headed secessionists like Senator, and soon-to-be Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. During a campaign stop in the fall of 1860, Davis responded morbidly to a spectator who asked what would happen to anyone who voiced Union support in the event of Mississippi’s secession. “The neck of the author of such an inquiry was in danger of hemp,” Davis answered. Patriotism indeed.
When Mississippi held elections in the winter of 1860-61 to determine whether or not the state should secede from the Union, mobs of pro-secessionist thugs staked out positions at polling places to “discourage” voters from casting a pro-Union ballot. They employed flapping lips or flying fists, depending on the situation. John Aughey, an evangelical minister and ardent Mississippi Unionist, reported on the pressures to conform to southern “patriotism” that gripped the Magnolia State during the secession vote. Aughey heard a pro-secessionist speaker warn that, “compromise with the Yankees, after the election of Lincoln, is treason against the South.” The speaker then bragged that secessionist thugs had hanged seven “tory-submissionists” [common terms for Unionists] near the Tallahatchie River. The hangings discouraged any further “non-patriotic” agitation, as Unionist candidates, “having the wholesome dread of hemp before their eyes,” wisely decided to stop canvassing their neighborhoods. Terrorism has a way of keeping people quiet. 
Other Mississippians witnessed similarly extreme pressures to conform to southern “patriotism.” Pontotoc County resident R.F. Crenshaw told his cousin that, “we are so convulsed here now in Miss. With Secession, that the man who does not give, not only one day but all his time to his Country is regarded at best but a lukewarm patriot.” John Goss, a native of Ohio who lived near Attala County described to a friend how “drunken rowdies” had whipped several men in his neighborhood on account of their “unsoundness on the secession question.” This was the apex of blind patriotism, in which thuggish coercion squelched dissenting views that might have otherwise questioned the wisdom of Mississippi seceding from the Union and waging a war that would reduce thousands of her native sons to rotting corpses on a battlefield — all in the name of patriotism.
And woe to those Mississippians who appeared to express the ultimate form of un-patriotic disloyalty: allegedly sympathizing with slaves or abolitionists. Betty Beaumont, a British national living in Wilkinson County, observed how “there seemed to be a strong prejudice…against those who did not own slaves…and a disposition to persecute and prosecute them on every occasion.”  Such occasions came frequently during the secession crisis.
In December 1860, Batesville resident Tom West stood accused of being a “nigger worshipper” and harboring “filthy abolitionist sentiment.” As punishment, a local mob “administered to him a severe flagellation.” Similarly, an enraged mob ran English-born schoolteacher John Blissett out of Newton County, where he had lived for years, due to his supposed “abolition sentiments.” In Coahoma County, along the Mississippi River, a local planter reported that over eighty armed men waited along the riverbanks to “sink every Abolition city boat,” and he observed that “a few, a very few, Union men may be seen in the cities of the State.” Of course, this wasn’t so surprising given that self-professed southern patriots did their best to silence, if not injure or kill, anyone who refused to tow the secessionist line. In Mississippi, before the outbreak of the Civil War, it really was “my country, right or wrong,” and this wasn’t a good thing if you happened to be “wrong.”
So, what did patriotism mean to Mississippi’s would-be Confederates? Well, it meant whatever they said it meant at any given time. Just like Rudy Giuliani and other right-wing wombats who have endlessly questioned President Obama’s love of country over the course of his two terms in office, southern secessionists in 1860-61 defined patriotism as a blind loyalty to the cause they cherished the most. These “patriots” demanded a bizarre, untenable, and downright tyrannical level of patriotic devotion that trampled the rights of so-called “dissenters” into the dirt.
When Giuliani, Scott Walker, and other conservative purveyors of patriot porn question how much Obama loves his country, they’re not questioning in good faith. To them, Obama simply can’t love his country, at least in the blind, nuance-free, uncritical, jingoistic way that they love their country. Had these bozos been around in 1860, they might have had a great time driving “disloyal” abolitionists and Unionists out of the Sunny South.
There have, of course, been plenty more incidents in U.S. history during which the stifling of dissent masqueraded as patriotism. The Sedition Act of 1918 that outlawed criticism of the government during World War I, and the era of McCarthyism that ruined the lives and reputations of anyone perceived to be communists by Wisconsin’s favorite paranoid, senatorial nutball are two more notable examples. In these cases, as was the case in pre-Civil War Mississippi, “patriotism” came to mean whatever the fevered minds of the blindly loyal could cook up. But the goal was always the same: separate the “real” from the “false” Americans; silence all unwarranted criticisms, and eliminate “outsiders.”
And it’s President Obama — he of the funny name, of the cosmopolitan upbringing, of the liberal politics, and of the black skin — who has played the role of the Right’s favorite “outsider” ever since he took the oath of office. There’s only one way to deal with outsiders. You claim that they don’t think like you do; you claim that they’re too different to fit in, and you claim that they don’t love their country. No doubt that Mississippi’s pro-secessionist Fire Eaters, who waged a war against another lawyer-from-Illinois-turned-President, are watching from beyond the grave at the antics of Giuliani and others — and are smiling.
* See Cecelia Elizabeth O’Leary, To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism (Princeton: Princeton Univerity Press 2000), 4.
* See M.A. Depuiset and F.Butera, “On the Relevance of Studying Patriotism and Normative Conflict in Changing Attitudes Towards Immigrants,” Psicología Política, 30 (2005): 76-77.
 See George Washington Sargent to George Sargent, December 5, 1860; George Washington Sargent to George Sargent, December 15, 1860; George Washington Sargent to William Duncan, December 30, 1860; all in George Washington Sargent Papers, 1840-1900, folder 11, volume 11, 04025, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
 See John Hill Aughey, Tupelo (Lincoln, NB: State Journal Company, 1888), 30-31.
 See R.F. Crenshaw to Ella Austin, December 13, 1860, R.F. Crenshaw Letter, #MUM01341, Box 1997.1, Folder 97-1, Archives and Special Collections, J.D. Williams Library, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi; Diary of Jason Niles, January 2, 1862, Transcript of manuscript #950, Documenting the American South, Electronic Edition. Southern Historical Collection. University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999. http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/niles/niles.html
 see Betty Bentley Beaumont, Twelve Years of my Life: An Autobiography (Philadelphia: T.B. Peterson & Brothers, 1887), 105-106, 136, 157.
 see Daily Evening Citizen (Vicksburg, MS), December 20, 1860; “A Female Abolitionist,” Ibid, December 18, 1860; “A Natural Result of Abolition Aggression,” Ibid, December 20, 1860.
Based on my limited personal experience, American political psychology boils down to this:
Right: Think like us or you hate America.
Left: Think like us or you hate Humanity.
Yeah, that about sums it up 😉
It’s a lot more complicated than that. For starters, yeah, the Republicans do wrap themselves in the flag and use patriotism as an excuse to justify whatever policy they come up this week. And it’s totally unfair to paint Obama as some sort of closet Communist when he’s been a relatively moderate President.
But all of the associations Obama’s been criticized for reflect left-wing hypocrisy. Jeremiah Wright (a conspiracy theorist), William Ayers (a bomber) and Frank Marshall Davis (an apologist for Stalin)- all of these people would be persona non grata if not for left-wing hypocrisy. Would Obama be willing to be on a board with an abortion clinic bomber that never killed anyone, for example?
Moreover, a large part of the Left DOES hate America. During the Vietnam War, for example, many left-wingers in America emphasized with Mao despite the Cultural Revolution. Why? Because he was standing up to America- and who cared how many innocent Chinese he murdered. Left-wing hatred of America can be just as twisted as the various hatreds of the Right.
You’re right in that patriotism can be used to dismiss constructive criticism but there’s a difference between constructive criticism and “our enemies are always right”. Look at the Red Scare period, for example- clearly, General Marshall wasn’t a Communist but many of the “victims” denied Stalin’s crimes, denied Soviet espionage, justified the takeover of Eastern Europe, etc.
And before you say “none of the America-haters are in positions of authority”, keep in mind that prior to 1994, many historians downplayed Soviet espionage in the 1930s and the 1940s despite abundant evidence. Even today, many left-wingers regard the Hollywood Ten as martyrs despite the fact that WERE shills for Stalin. Why? Because of hatred for America.
There’s some truth to what you’re saying, but many of those examples (Ayers) were radicals even during a time when communism was still considered to be a legitimate political alternative to democratic (and non-democratic) capitalism. And consider the long Red Scare period: sure, there were plenty of far-left communist sympathizers, but how many of them managed to exert any influence over the Democratic Party? They’re influence was miniscule, at best. Now compare them with far-right elements like the John Birch Society, whose paranoid legacy not only infiltrated the Republican Party, but has since come to dominate its most vocal elements (See Party, Tea). Even today, guys like Noam Chomsky are as vocal as ever, but do you see them influencing the Democrats’ policies the way that explicitly theocratic, right-wing Dominionist organizations influence the Republicans? No way.
Moreover, let’s not forget that right-wing anti-communists were all-too-happy to support brutal Fascist dictatorships in Latin America, Spain (William H. Buckley famously penned a sympathetic ode to Francisco Franco in the National Review) and Asia simply because these regimes were “anti-communist.” I’m sure there are still far-left shills for Stalin, Mao, etc. in the U.S. today, but they aren’t the faces of the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, you have prominent conservatives openly voicing support for thugs like Vladimir Putin, who they view as “tougher” than Obama. The idea that the radical left has influenced mainstream U.S. politics in a way similar to how the radical right has is a false equivalency. There’s a big difference between “The Left” and Liberals, but a smiliar division doesn’t so much exist on the Right. That said, I appreciate your commentary, you always keep me on my toes.
Okay let me try to put it a different way- how does the far left culture that Obama kept encountering (and that many liberals kept tolerating) do anything but hurt his chances for reelection?
It’s also inaccurate to say that the far Left had no influence during FDR’s Presidency- Harry Dexter White was the number two man in the Treasury. Henry Wallace was the Vice President. Even as late as 1948, one-third of the CIO was composed of unions that supported the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
Although after the 1948 election, the Left’s influence throughout the country was destroyed.
Moreover, the fact of the matter is that while the Democratic Party has expelled Leftists, they’ve become dominant in many parts of academia. And that’s influenced the larger culture in some ways, so that while people that supported Hitler are rightly viewed with opprobrium, people that supported Stalin are often treated sympathetically. Furthermore, some corners of sociology have become highly influenced by leftists- the many studies showing, for example, the existence of right wing authoritarianism but denying the existence of left-wing authoritarianism.
You made some generalizations in your statements which when examined with facts turn out to be erroneous. The Hollywood Ten were communists. That is not the same thing as being a shill for Stalin. You tend to lump people into categories to lend legitimacy to your opinions and that is a major fallacy. People can detest the means a government uses in administering a country while loving the country. Just because someone is communist does not mean they don’t love their country. We see the same thing brought up in what Giuliani said. You really just pulled a Giuliani with the post.
Also, you said the majority of the left hated or hates America. That is strictly your opinion and it has absolutely no merit whatsoever. There is no proof to support your opinion. In fact, I reject your opinion utterly. Many on the left love their country. They just dislike the corrupt greedy fascists who are bent on remaking this nation into the very thing the Founding Fathers opposed.
They were members of the Communist Party during the time was Stalin was in charge of the Soviet Union and the CPUSA was loyal to Stalin . Many of them supported the Hitler-Stalin Pact and suddenly became pro-war the second Hitler attacked the USSR. You’re no different than the Southerners that say their ancestors weren’t fighting for slavery during the Civil War.
I wouldn’t say the majority of the left hates America, but a large part does. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was predicted that America would be one of the first countries to turn socialist. But that never happened. Most Americans remained hostile toward socialist ideas. That created a deep resentment.
As for your claim that the Communists loved America, I’m sure they did. The same way Stalin loved Ukrainians and Balts. Look at how Shirley Maclaine described her visit to China: “I thought of America’s climate of anger, violence, crime, and corruption, of her selfishness and corruption, and her freewheeling abuse of freedom”. In other words, she hated American culture itself, and if all the Chinese had to do was kill a few people to make people less selfish, less HUMAN, then it was a worthy sacrifice. Hatred is just as integral to the far Left as it is to the far Right.
Only difference is, most Americans have moved rightward in the last few decades, so we see more of the latter.
You keep fixating on the Leninist version of Marxism while ignoring the benefits of socialism. You make statements that are nothing but generalizations with no proof to support them. More people have moved to the right? HA! More people have moved to the left. The conservatism valued by today’s GOP is dying. We are seeing the last dying gasps as we wave good riddance to it.
As for being a communist, big deal. It’s old news. Richard Hofstadter was communist at one point. Many people like various socialist ideas such as Social Security and Medicare. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/19/social-security-benefits-poll_n_4305258.html
For that matter let us look to the 2014 elections. Yes, GOP candidates won big. However, conservative policies failed at the polls. Liberal policies won and won by huge majorities. If you think the people have shifted to the right on everyday things, you are badly mistaken.
What irritates me about the whole discussion is that Conservatives conflate liberalism with “the Left,” as if inside every Liberal is a commie just waiting to come out and hate America. The “tarring with the same brush” is tedious–and simply false.
The part I love is that they still think communist is a dirty word. It shows the 1950s mentality some people still have. Liberalism in the US is not communism. Socialism is not communism. Liberalism is just like conservatism in that both are very large umbrellas with a lot of different groups beneath them.
Just to clarify what I was saying, I AGREE, it’s ridiculous to tar liberals with the same brush as Communists. There’s a big difference between wanting universal health care and wanting a 1-party state.
HOWEVER, many leftists (though not all) don’t seem to get that dictatorships are bad- left as well as right. Moreover, there is a genuine double standard on the left- terrorists and conspiracy theorists that support us are good, (There’s a similar double standard on the right.)
And let me put it another way- do you think that every person that thinks the Civil War wasn’t about slavery literally wants to reestablish slavery? Or do you think that many of them are merely sympathetic to the underlying ideology? Then why is it different with left-wingers that think people like the Hollywood Ten or Paul Robeson were not motivated by hatred?
And finally, yes, America HAS moved to the Right compared to 35 years or 30 years ago?
Really? America moved to the right? Two words: Gay Marriage.
Culturally the U.S. has gotten more liberal in some areas, but in terms of economic policy, we’re about as neoliberal as it gets, unfortunately.
And how did that happen? By the will of the People?…or activist judges?
The whole point of individual rights is that they are not subject to the Will of the People. When it comes to defending natural rights from an overbearing majority, the courts are obligated to be “activist.”
Will of the people. Just because some areas such as Alabama are a minority does not give them any right to reject the laws of the United States. The polls show a majority support for gay marriage.
“The whole point of individual rights is that they are not subject to the Will of the People”
Assuming “gay marriage” is a right.
I am because it is. It’s under the Fourteenth Amendment. If it is a right for straight people, it must be a right for non-straight people as well. For it not to be a right–for the government to legally discriminate against gay men and women–the government would have to prove that society had a compelling interest to stop it. And since it cannot show that denying gay men and women the Equal Protection of the Laws serves any important purpose, it must be a right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
See how easy that is?
Well, if Giuliani is going to consider a future run for the White House he’s going to have to ingratiate himself with the Teanutter party and overcome his image as a gun-hatin’, cross-dressing, pro-choice Yankee. Sounds like he’s learned to speak their language. Blow that dogwhistle!
“When Mississippi held elections in the winter of 1860-61 to determine whether or not the state should secede from the Union, mobs of pro-secessionist thugs staked out positions at polling places to “discourage” voters from casting a pro-Union ballot. They employed flapping lips or flying fists, depending on the situation.”
Must not have been very effective.
The vote was 16,800 for candidates that supported immediate secession,
12,218 for cooperationists (conditional unionists) and 12,000 for candidates whose positions were not specified.
It was quite effective when combined with the fact that roughly 38,000 (40 percent) of the state’s eligible voters didn’t even vote in the secession election due to a combination of intimidation and simple lack of candidates who weren’t secessionists in some form or another. This was compared to the 68,000 (60 percent) who voted in the 1860 national election. All of this benefited the hard-line secessionists. Similar developments happened in Alabama and Georgia.
Good point. Now tell me, what was the voter turnout in colonial America when the colonies held their referendum on whether or not to secede from the British Empire. I can’t seem to find any record of it anywhere.
That would be because they didn’t secede from the British Empire as you well know. Are you that stupid that you’re going to come here from Kevin’s blog and try that same bullshit?
Cool fact about the Revolution: Ben Franklin’s acknowledged illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, was a die-hard British loyalist.
Funny thing, because the Monticello website, and your own writing for that matter, says the colonies did secede. But even allowing for your clownish, stupid, worthless and nonsensical assertions, please show me the results of the voter turnout for colonial referendum that was held in order to determine whether or not the colonies would affect a separation from the British Empire. “Separation”, of course, being synomous with secession, as well as being the exact language of the DoI.
Funny thing. You don’t stay current with learning. Oh wait, you don’t learn. Same old stuff from you all the time. Yawn, boring. You are really good at saying something without being able to prove it. You want facts? You’ve been given them. You just ignore them and that’s what I’m going to do to you.
Until you can post with your real name, you are nothing but a lying coward.
Yet more concrete thinking.
Yes, Franklin’s son was appointed Royal Governor of New Jersey. But then again, virtually everyone in the colonies were die-hard loyalists at one point. That is, until those petty, whining, parasitic little slave-trafficking traitors decided their taxes were too high.
Funny thing, you can’t find the results of the referendum, so, like the useless gutless despicable lying blowhard that you are, you change the topic. Put up or shut up: show me the results of the colonial referendum on secession from the British Empire.
That’s why it wasn’t secession.
oh, and here is my website. http://amoregeneraldiffusionofknowledge.blogspot.com/
You can look, but you can’t post because I don’t allow cowards that can’t use their real names to post on it.
So you just have to post on other sites until everyone gets tired of being amused by your ignorance and ignores you. You’ve been bitch slapped on the other blogs and now here you are getting bitch slapped by us here. And still too chicken shit to use your real name.
Funny you should mention bitch-slap, because that’s what I do to you every time you open your fat, triple-chinned, lying, ignorant mouth. It started when I humiliated you by revealing you stated in a published paper that the colonies seceded from the British Empire, continued when I revealed you had never read “Battle Cry of Freedom”, continued yet again when you stupidly miseread the original version of the DoI, and continues here because you cannot produce the colonial referendum on separation. Lol, you are pathetic.
PS-I thought you were going to ignore me, chubs.
Oh, I’m still waiting for you to humiliate me. The only thing you’ve proved is that you are a coward. You took Battle Cry and mangled it. You got bitch slapped over that. You keep making false statements and can’t prove anything which just shows what a worthless waste of time you are. You are hilarious in your antics because you are accomplishing nothing but creating hot air.
No real name. No education. No honor. No knowledge. To top it off you keep getting kicked away from blogs because you are too stupid to learn. Referendum? That’s funny. You mangled the history of the Civil War and now you are mangling the American Revolution.
Lol…looks like I hit a nerve. On one level I do feel very, very, sorry for you, because of your appaling stupidity, abhorrent ignorance, oafish demeanor, and mostly because of your foul disposition and hate-filled antics. But then again, you are so breathtakingly arrogant, I kind of enjoy humiliating you.
PS- I thought you were going to ignore me, as you so boldly announced. Heaven forgive me, but I do enjoy humiliating you.
PPS- Do all the kids call you “ol blubberbutt Dick” ? Lol.
Almost forgot; please show me the referendum whereby the colonists approved of their secession and separation from the British Empire.