There’s a post going mildly viral on Facebook, just one of many on both sides of the ideological divide. The post is a picture of a message on yellow paper held between two fingers, that says “Don’t claim to love the U.S.A. while trying to make it a socialist nation.” it’s a relatively mild one, to be sure, far less offensive than many I’ve seen. But it is usually accompanied by comments that make it more offensive, hateful and ignorant statements that one might expect to accompany such mindless drivel as this.

Every now and then (okay, fairly frequently), I decide to respond to such things, to challenge these pernicious and destructive narratives. This is how I responded to this one, on several of its threads:

First, what you are referring to as “socialism” is the hybrid, predominantly market-based capitalistic political economic form common to all modern developed nations, without exception, and in place in all modern developed nations PRIOR TO their participation in the historically unprecedented post-WWII expansion in the production of prosperity.

Second, it is to the right of the political economic ideology advocated by Benjamin Franklin who said “all property superfluous to (that necessary to support oneself and one’s family) is the property of the public, who by their laws have created it.” I guess that Benjamin Franklin, who was the only one of the founding fathers to participate in the drafting and signing of every single one of our founding documents, and who was the universally revered senior statesman of our new nation at the moment of its birth, had no right to claim to love America, then?

Third, “loving America” requires committing ourselves to the same level of discourse, the same openness to ideas, the same willingness to celebrate and apply reason to the challenge of self-governance, as that which characterized our founding fathers in 1787, when they gathered for the Constitutional Convention, and forged difficult compromises and sought pragmatic solutions to problems.

Fourth, this kind of nonsense, of misusing the word “socialism,” of rejecting political economic reasoning within a political economic system that is UNIVERSALLY characteristic of every successful political economy in the world today, and of vilifying those who want us to remain a modern and prosperous nation rather than be thrown into the downward spiral of ignorance and bigotry that you are so passionately striving to impose on us, is simply repugnant.

It is no expression of love for America to vilify your fellow Americans, to constrict our thought and reduce our commitment to the welfare of our people and the good of the world. It is no expression of love for America to strive to continue to impose policies on it that have put it near or at the bottom of all developed nations by most measures of human welfare, with by far the highest violent crime rates, with by far the highest percentage of our population incarcerated (of ANY nation on Earth, bar none!), with higher infant mortality rates, higher poverty rates, a poorer performing educational system….

It’s no expression of love for America to hate its people, to lack compassion or concern for the destitute, to refuse to incorporate economic theory and research into economic policy, to refuse to learn and understand the lessons of history, to remain ignorant and irrational and belligerent and bigoted and to insist that that is what must define us as a nation and a people.

That is not love for America. That is hatred for humanity. And it is not who and what we are. It is not who and what the vast majority of Americans, reasonable people of goodwill, people who care about one another, people who care about being wise and compassionate and working together to do the best we can in a complex and subtle world, are going to let you turn us into.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.