The answer to what is America is difficult to pin down even among Conservatives. From their perspective, we have multiple definitions of America. Writing for the Imaginative Conservative website, John Macius finds it difficult to precisely define America because of the diverse projects being carried out in the name of America now (click here for his article). However, in defining Patriotism, he, nevertheless, gives a description of America as being an idea and that inconsistencies with that idea should note merit overall condemnation of our nation.
In the meantime, part-time Libertarian, Bruce Frohnen, believes that loving America means loving its government if it allows for and protects people while they live locally in their shared faith communities, families, and local groups. We should note that while Frohnen has little regard for the social aspects of Conservative Libertarianism, his description about what government should be leans toward, in terms of government dynamics and structure, Conservative Libertarianism. According to Frohnen, for Conservatives to love America, they must have a love of the familiar as it emanates outward from our local family, faith, and our immediate community. In addition, America consists of the people who share our faith, our location, and our way of life'. The reason for Frohnen's emphasis on the local here is that he believes our local associations are our primary ones and a good patriotism should always want government to preserve that (click here for source).
In the meantime, in his discussion on patriotism, Erick Erickson points to the principles associated with the idea of America. Erickson makes this point when distinguishing patriotism from nationalism. Nationalism, according to Erickson is tribal in that it is based on loyalty to race, ethnicity, and ancestry. Patriotism is based on principles, that it is based on ideals and values. Furthermore, patriotism includes a 'devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life.'
We should note that with both Frohen's and Erickson's descriptions of America, there is room for those who love America properly to criticize it and withdraw support from specific actions it undertakes. And with each person cited, there is a concern with letting the future be governed by the past so as not to cut the ties between them.
Of the 3 conservatives cited above, Macius comes the closest to correctly defining America. For what Frohnen doesn't see is that while America's formative years coincide with his conservative view of what America should be, America ended up being quite toxic to others in how it established communities with shared faiths, families, and community associations where our way of life was developed during that time period. How what we now call America, that is the European settlers who came here for a new life, treated native Americans is pretty much on par with how America treats Iraq with the exception of ethnic cleansing. We should note that Frohnen opposed America's neoconservative war against Iraq. Only here, we simply kicked out those who didn't share our faith and values.
As for Erickson, I would like to ask a question once I have channeled the sidekick of one of my two childhood heroes,Rocky J. Squirrel. For while Erickson boasts that America is built on principles, we need to ask if they are friendly principles. For history shows that not all national principles have been moral. So we could also ask if America's founding principles were friendly to those outside of our then European immigrant groups. Of course, to find out what America's principles were back then, one does better to look at what America did rather than what America said about itself. For most of us prefer flattery to realism, so our words mean nothing unless our actions back them up.
In addition, Erickson should note that basing one's identity on principles does not make one immune to tribalism. There is such a thing call ideological tribalism. Those who believe that they alone have latched on to absolute principles by which they can judge all others but have nothing to learn from them perhaps provide vintage examples of those who are embrace ideological tribalism.
Now the main trouble with the Conservative definition of America, regardless of the definition one chooses is this: America changes with each new influx of immigrants or when each fringe group puts in a significant effort to escape marginalization. So while Conservatives are asking immigrants to totally assimilate when coming here, we should note that no such group in the past was required to do so. Yes, there is a partial assimilation practiced by each new group. But depending on the numbers of new people, changes to America also occur in order to allow new groups to breathe. Whether they go beyond breathing to fitting in depends if there is a new group following them which can take their place in serving as society's scapegoat.
That America changes with the influx of each new group threatens the Conservative concept of America. Why? Because of their love of and attachment to the familiar, each new set of changes looks like another nail of the coffin of what defined America in the past. And the fear is that the next nail will be the final one.
We should note that some time during this century, White, English speaking Americans will become a minority here. When that happens, should we still require new immigrants to speak English only in public even though the first language of the majority of Americans may not be English? See, such a change threatens the sense of well being for many a conservative whose definition of America is tightly bound to our Founding Fathers. But any attempt to prevent America from changing has to deny our our basic right to be free. In addition, each attempt to prevent America from changing prevents us from learning from others.
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5