In his ongoing quest to remain relevant, Rudy Giuliani recently accused president Barack Obama of not loving America. In the ensuing outrage, Giuliani quickly backpedaled, clarifying that he doesn’t doubt Obama’s love of country, but instead believes Obama’s policies are wrongheaded, representative of someone who doesn’t know what’s in America’s best interests, as set forth in the Rudy Giuliani Handbook for Patriotism.
I must confess to Giuliani and all of the other nationalists in government: I don’t love America either. For starters, it’s worth quoting eminent scholar and semanticist Alfred Korzybski: “The map is not the territory.” What Korzybski meant is that no linguistic construct or model used to describe an existential “thing” should be confused for the thing itself. Attempts to substitute the map for the territory fail for many different reasons, not the least of which is that people will always interpret the map as representing different things, in accordance with their own subjective experiences.
When Rudy Giuliani declares that someone doesn’t love America, he defines America like most other hyperstatists — America as a political entity. The America that you can literally point to on a map, and whose borders have grown in proportion to the American military state’s aggression and brutality. The America Giuliani loves is the one made up of, first and foremost, its government, which Giuliani and his fellow American exceptionalists claim have “allowed” for the greatest freedom and prosperity in mankind’s history. Giuliani and his ilk love the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, the court system which Giuliani once worked the levers of, and all the American state’s arbitrarily drawn political sub-entities (states and cities) — one of which he ruled with an iron fist for many years. Love of America, for Giuliani, means love of its political infrastructure. No number of pictures of Giuliani at Yankees games will convince me otherwise.
Giuliani’s definition of America is a far cry from the one most Americans envision, myself included. I don’t love the American government. I have no reverence for the Constitution, nor for any part of the state machinery, which to me, doesn’t represent America at all. The things that Giuliani loves about America are irrelevant to the freedom and prosperity Americans have so often enjoyed, good fortune which Giuliani wrongly attributes to the state.
I love food, music, books, movies, language, ideas and innovations, especially those molded by some of the people who live in the region Giuliani calls America. But I love those things regardless of where they’ve came from, be it America, Canada, Africa, or the Middle East. In short, I love the human ingenuity that is the driving force behind those things. And I am in awe of the process (not thing) called culture that serves as a kiln in which many of those creations have been formed.
So while we’re on this debate about who does and doesn’t love America, count me as a no vote so long as tyrants like Giuliani are setting the bounds of the debate.