McCain/Palin: The Good Ole Anti-American Way
Are mom and apple pie still good things or are they now indicators of something negative? Are the small towns in the nation’s heartland bastions of a sinister protectionist culture? Are the urban centers cultural havens for demonic liberal ideology? I am now convinced that the answer is simply: “it depends on who you ask.”
What is with all of the recent talk about anti-Americanism in the United States? Overt and covert charges of communism and socialism leveled at other Americans simply because they are not like-minded. Not being a political historian, I missed the turning tide which transformed that which we hold so dear in democracy into the current war on the American political process. Apparently it is no longer possible to hold an election which does not contain very high profile and vicious executions of the character and integrity of those who seek to lead us.
What I have long understood and continue to believe about this great nation is that we are all entitled to our views and opinions. We are also welcome to give those views voice. What I am troubled by is the recent political trend by politicians in our presidential contest to characterize American culture in such distinctly narrow terms. I am also learning, as I observe the reactions from some Americans, is that they are becoming concerned that not only their way of life is being threatened, but also that the country and its cultural fiber is about to be set ablaze. Holy smokescreen! No matter what your political affiliation, if you really think that your view of American culture could be at risk as a result of this political contest, you may be falling victim to a menacing social mindlessness that at its core, has absolutely nothing to do whatever with politics.
If you sincerely believe that your view of American culture is at risk, then that most probably is the problem. The little red school house, the old stone church and the county fair are “culturally” as American as mom and apple pie. But in America, so are synagogues, same sex couples and sushi. I totally understand that many believe when they find things that are different, or even unacceptable in this country, these new cultures are having a negative impact on their ability to “preserve their value system” and their associated cultural surroundings.
Americans have been here before and with each evolution of social consciousness in our history, with each major element of social change not a single anti-American threat manifested itself or in any way destroyed this nation. Destruction hasn’t happened with women’s voting rights, not with civil rights, nor through any number of sweeping changes that this nation has undergone have we found ourselves at risk of having to abandon our individual cultural beliefs and values. Even when the conscience of the nation has been tested we have endured. All America has been left with our personal voices and our individual beliefs.
Certainly, an evolving America can be challenging to understand and accept, but as I am fond of pointing out, it is our founding documents through which this evolution is possible. What could be more American than that?
I have to admit that I never imagined that I would be one day asked to consider casting a vote in favor of gay marriage or same sex unions. And I never thought I would have to try to come to grips with such a concept as when life begins and the associated choices. I never in a million years, given the lessons of the Viet Nam War, thought I would again be left to wonder why American lives and dollars are being consumed in a war without a clear understanding of the causes or objectives. I have my views on God, guns and separation of church and state. And I have a better than average understanding of this nations founding documents. But whatever side of any of these, or any other issue another may dwell on, there should not be cause to be label them a subverter simply because they are in disagreement you or any other American. Those who would disagree with your cultural viewpoints or political posture do not really deserve to be labeled anti-American do they?
As I have said before: “Sometimes we don’t see things as they are but rather as we are.” I am compelled to repeat those words from someone more insightful than me because real evidence of this blindness is being presented everyday in the media. More importantly though, I am experiencing this attitude first hand and with regularity of late. Sure we all want to make our selection of the next President of the United States through our vote. Most Americans want to contribute to a political inertia which may assist us to that end, by voicing our views to those with an interest in our input. This reality, coupled with our individual views on issues of substance, make American politics incredibly intriguing. The idea of American culture as a static unwavering singular vision has strong roots among countless citizens in this nation. Who am I to attempt to persuade them otherwise?
What I will say is that my view of this nation is one that has very flexible cultural borders. These ideological and social borders expand and flex as we recognize new cultural elements and nuances that deserve consideration and recognition. I am not suggesting that it is easy to do. I am suggesting that history has shown us that this is the American way.
There is nothing worse than being betrayed by someone in whom we trust. Politicians in this nation have plunged the public trust into near non existence. This has manifested itself on many political, diplomatic and economic fronts of late and over the course of many years. Now we find our American brethren being asked to choose between a welcoming collective American ideal and a narrow and unwelcoming one.
Exclusively for political purposes, Americans are being encouraged to turn their backs on each other and to demonize each other in the most horrible ways. This is the most abhorrent violation of the public trust that any politician could undertake: to intentionally incite divisiveness among our citizens through ghoulish myopia and exclusively for personal and political gain. Will we shamelessly dangle, what for many, are the beloved concepts of the flag, of a Christian God and conservative values above an imaginary political furnace? Whipping Americans into a frenzy about radical social and political change will ultimately destroy their way of life and bring down the nation. Using just a little political slight of hand, the extremist accusers are being manipulated into abandoning all that America truly stands for. The “good ole American way” is being ideologically supplanted by the “good ole Anti-American way.”
Sadly the accusers are the ones promoting a narrow socio-political agenda that seeks to intentionally cast an alien pall on fellow citizens. Yet they are the ones making claims of anti-Americanism! It is actually those who would tread on the welcoming ideology and many diverse aspects of American culture that are coming dangerously close to the suggestion of suppressing some measure of our freedom.
Through it all, few seem to celebrate our American democratic process anymore. Few are giving adequate consideration to what American citizenship really means and the value it holds. In my view, there is nothing more American than acknowledging, appreciating and celebrating the value of American citizenship. If you find yourself troubled by those whom you are being told are anti-American, then deservingly you may welcome continuing consternation. If you think you have a solid grasp on what America is and what she will become, then I hope that in your mind’s eye that you are holding a very broad brush.
We are all facing difficult times in this country. The America I know is a complex land that is both wonderful to her citizens and welcoming to the world. There must have been in time when most all of us believed this. Remember that statue in New York harbor. You know: the statue holding the torch. This statue bears the inscription which reads: “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” What do those words say to you about America? Or have they too become anti-American? Then again, the French gave us that statue. I know what some of you think about the French.
Now I just order… fries.
L. A. Walker, © Leon A. Walker