Who Are You Calling “Anti-American”?October 25, 2008
I’ve had plenty of time to ponder my post on the Bachmann incident (I was initially speechless), so I decided that a follow up post was in order…
You see, I realized there was something I was missing, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Something that I was leaving unsaid, more specifically. I know that her comments revealed that she views her colleagues in Congress through a “pro” and “anti-American” lens (which is in and of itself pretty disturbing, and the underlying reason why her campaign has been suffering lately), but there was a gaping hole in the entire discussion, and I’ve finally figured out what it was:
For how much the phrase gets tossed around lately, “anti-American” really deserves a cohesive definition that everyone can agree on.
So, considering my tradition of using the Chamber as a platform for defining things and establishing paradigms, I figured that this might be a good idea going forward. After all, who knows how often we’ll see the term flung about around here? I should really have something set in stone. And in an attempt to set a definition that will be accepted and universal, I think we should first start with defining what “American” is. That would be logical, right? It would appear to me that it’s not the “anti-” that should be explored (assuming we can juxtapose “anti-” and “un”). Everyone knows what that means, after all.
I argue that, while many may agree that quaint things like apple pie, baseball, Uncle Sam, Mt. Rushmore, etc. are intrinsically “American”, there is still a possibility that not all would agree. Indeed, the Founding Fathers wouldn’t have seen much significance in any of those things (apple pie recipes from the 14th century?). My proposal would be to strip away all of the cultural icons, traditions, monuments, and any given individual’s belief in what the American “spirit” is (thanks Alfie), thus leaving just the lowest possible standard of what is unequivocally American: The U.S. Constitution. The Chamber position is that, at the end of the day, it’s essentially all we have. The president takes an oath to “protect and defend” it. The Supreme Court interprets it. The Congress can collectively amend it. One could make a pretty compelling argument that, without recognition of the Constitution, there is no America. Cities may burn and towns may flood. The Federal Reserve may be depleted of funds. Half the U.S. population could be wiped out by some horrible disease. Great American traditions like World Series could disappear forever. But as long as the tenets of the Constitution remain intact and can be effectively upheld and executed, America remains.
That said, I shall declare: From this day forth in the Chamber, anything that doesn’t meet the standards of (or anyone who seeks to undermine) this most American of ideals will be considered as “anti-American”. Calls that don’t meet this lowest of bars will be deemed to be just hallow, inflammatory, pejorative-laden rhetoric, and will be called out as such. Even an activity like, say, burning the Flag is subjected to this basic requirement.
OK, I’ve brought down the proverbial gavel. I think its time to test the definition. Let’s use a hypothetical scenario:
Debater A claims that Obama policy X is “socialist” and his views are “anti-American”. Debater B asks A if there is anything in Policy X that would be considered unconstitutional. Debater A thinks for a second, and responds “It should be”. Debater B then points out that if one cannot prove that policy X is unconstitutional, then one must conclude that the Constitution makes room for (what A considers) “socialist” policies and thereby cannot be deemed “anti-American”.
hhmmm…it seems to work. Perhaps it makes for a clumsy debate the way I’ve phrased it, but I think it is logically sound*.
Now that we’ve agreed on that, let’s come full circle, and revisit what Bachmann said about the would-be Democratic president and her colleagues in Congress:
“I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views”
“I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America, or anti-America. I think the American people would love to see an expose like that.”
And I say to Ms. Bachmann that, when it comes to your fear of your fellow politicians having “anti-American” views, perhaps you might want to “take a great look at” your most favorite-ist person in the whole wide world. You know, the current president:
*I suppose I should open the thread up to more tests or to point out holes, so have at me.