“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”
― Winston Churchill
Obama doesn’t love America.
Not like you and me.
"I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."
I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe President Obama loves America. So says Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York, failed presidential hopeful, and lover of America.
Rudy says that Barack Obama doesn’t love America. Obama doesn’t love you and he doesn’t love me. Obama, see, he’s not like us, not like real Americans. Obama wasn’t brought up the way we were brought up, imbued with mad love for our country.
Giuliani made those remarks at a conservative New York fund raising event for presidential hopeful Scott Walker.
And nobody, not one person in the audience, challenged that assertion.
Obama doesn’t love America the way we do.
When asked by the press to clarify his comments, Giuliani explained,
"He's a patriot, I'm sure. What I'm saying is that, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear him say the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things I used to hear Bill Clinton say, about how much he loves America. I do hear him criticize America much more often than other American presidents."
Obama is a patriot, Giuliani admits, sure. But different. Not like Reagan. Not like Clinton. Not like us.
That’s what plantation owners used to say when they sold black children away from their parents, when they broke up families: they’re not like us, they don’t love their kids like we do.
That’s what we used to say when we sought our Manifest Destiny across the Great Plains. We’re special. Indians? They don’t love America like we do. They can’t love their kids or their wives or their god like we love ours. They can’t, they’re savages.
That’s what we used to say when we burned down villages in Korea and Vietnam, hey don’t feel sorry for them, they don’t feel emotions the way we do. That’s what we say about Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. They don’t feel pain or loss, they’re not the same as us, they can’t love their kids or their spouses or their country like we do.
That’s what we used to say when women wanted to vote. Hey, god love ‘em but they just don’t think like we do. They’re not like us, like real Americans.
That’s what we say now about gay people. Why do they want to get married? They can’t love each other like we do, not really.
And Obama? Well, he can’t love America the way Rudy Giuliani and his wealthy white Wall Street friends do.
And this idea, that “they” can’t love the way we do, is such an accepted idea Rudy Giuliani is comfortable saying so, out loud, in public, on the record.
They don’t love America. Not like us.
Giuliani was quick to point out that when he says Obama isn’t like, you know, us, he’s not being racist,
“Some people thought it was racist. I thought that was a joke, since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools, and most of this he learned from white people. This isn’t racism. This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”
So, just to be clear, when Rudy says Obama isn’t like you and me, he’s talking about Obama’s white genes, not the other ones. That’s not racism, it’s socialism, or maybe anti-colonialism.
But since Rudy brought it up, what exactly is anti-colonialism anyway?
C’mon, in one hundred words or less, quick, what’s anti-colonialism?
I mean, you hear that a lot in the last five years, right?
Obama, his views were shaped by anti-colonialism. He’s an anti-colonialist. I’ve heard that statement or variations of it hundreds of times in discussions on Fox New and on blogs and from people I know. And they all say it with ponderous gravity and raised knowing eyebrows. Anti-colonialism. But when you ask, what is that, exactly, and what does it mean to you in particular? Well, what you get is vague hand-waving and the Giuliani answer: he’s not like us.
So, what is it?
Colonialism isn’t a common topic of conversation in America.
So where did this label come from?
In his book The Roots of Obama’s Rage and in the pseudo-documentary 2016: Obama’s America which was based on it and in endless articles here and there, conservative pundit and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza boldly states that Barack Obama isn’t like “us.” Which is interesting, given that D’Souza was born and raised in Mumbai, India and came to the US as an exchange student before eventually becoming a naturalized citizen – which somehow makes D’Souza more like “us” than Obama. Be that as it may, D’Souza’s entire position is based on the idea that Obama’s worldview doesn’t depend from the so-called American dream. Obama, says D’Souza, doesn’t see the world from the perspective of the founding fathers. Nor does Obama’s outlook come from Black America’s struggle for civil rights and equality. Rather, D’Souza asserts Obama was shaped by his own father, Barack Obama Sr. a staunch African anti-colonialist. Now, Obama Jr. only met Obama Sr. once but that was enough according to D’Souza to change how he viewed the world forever.
And D’Souza’s hypothesis resonates with a lot of people.
2016: Obama’s America is the largest grossing conservative documentary to date and was widely acclaimed in conservative media and its message is repeated over and over by prominent conservatives – mostly recently, by Rudy Giuliani. “This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”
So, Obama isn’t like us.
Obama isn’t like you and me.
Obama isn’t even as American as an Indian immigrant – and Indian immigrant, I’ll remind you, who comes from India, which is a country still throwing off the remnants of the British Raj and is about as anti-colonialist as it gets. I mean, if anybody ought to sympathize with Obama’s supposed anti-colonialist views, it’s a guy from India.
Anti-colonialism. Again, what is that? What is it specifically? Obama’s father is from Africa (Kenya in case I actually have to spell it out after six years of birtherism). Kenya today is the Republic of Kenya, but from 1888 to 1962 it was a colony of the British Empire. President Obama was born in Hawaii and never lived in Kenya – or anywhere else in Africa. Now, how would that have shaped the President’s viewpoint and actions? Is anti-colonialism so powerful that it could reach across time and oceans to influence Barack Obama though a single meeting with his father when Obama was ten?
And perhaps it did.
Obama talked about how his father’s life shaped his worldview in the Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. His father had been more myth to him than man, Obama only met him once, and he was an adult before he learned much about the man’s life – and that’s how Obama learned about colonialism.
But, you, how do you know?
Really, what do you, you Americans, what do you know of colonialism?
Is it the same, this concept, everywhere? Is the African version the same as the American and Asian and Indian versions? Hell, is it the same across Africa? How many places are still colonies of other nations today?
You know, the United States of America began as British, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Russian colonies.
So how come we, the “we” that makes up real Americans, how come we’re not all vehement anti-colonialists?
Or are we?
Our revered Founding Fathers sure as hell were “anti-colonialists.” Wouldn’t that mean all true Americans are anti-colonialists as well? Are we not anti-colonialist brothers in spirit to the Indians and the Kenyans?
If not, why not?
Be specific. If not, why not? Spell it out, line by line. Why was it patriotic for America to seek independence but not Kenya? I’ll wait while you think about it. Take your time.
Do you even know enough about this subject to have an intelligent opinion? Or do you just take a convicted felon like D’Souza at his word because he’s saying something you want to hear? The same goes for Obama, if you support him and believe that he loves America like you do, why?
On the face of things, it would appear to be a complicated issue, convoluted and intertwined in myriad ways, vast in scope, subject to interpretation. I mean, we’re talking about the complex evolution of civilization, shaped by wars and conflicts, by environmental pressures, by millennia of time, across the breadth of the world, restricted or advanced by the availability or scarcity of resources, by famine and plague, by religion, by economies many and varied, by love and hate and apathy, by adventure and discovery, by greed and fear and altruism and fad. We’re talking about the emergence of nations here, about the rise and fall of empires, about the migration of entire populations, voluntary and forced. We’re talking about the freedom and enslavement of endless billions over centuries, across oceans and continents, and the interaction of civilizations over time and how they shape the present.
When you say, “Obama’s views are shaped by anti-colonialism” that’s what you’re talking about. All of that. All of it and far, far more. Vastly more.
There’s a name for that.
There’s a name for how the past shapes our present.
It’s called history.
There’s an old saying, it comes in many variations and it goes like this: Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
There’s another saying: the past repeats, always.
Both are true, so far as they go. The past does tend to repeat itself over and over in endless variation, which is hardly surprising given that no matter how far we rise or how deep we fall the one thing that remains constant throughout the ages is human nature.
Those who forget the past, who never learn it, who ignore and whitewash it, for them the future is always a surprise and they go ass-backward into the unknown repeating the same mistakes over and over. Those who forget history are not only doomed to repeat it along with the rest of us, they will always be victims of their own fate.
But those who remember history, who delve into its secrets, who learn from its endless examples, those people shape the future.
Those people are not victims of fate, but its master.
Those who understand history are the men and women who shape the fate of nations, of the world, of history itself.
They are the ones who become exceptional.
They are the ones history remembers.
And that, that right there, is why what happened in Oklahoma this week should disgust and horrify all free people.
This week, a Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly approved a measure that would cut all funding for Advanced Placement (AP) History courses for high school students. It’s not a law yet, but odds are good it will be – either in Oklahoma or elsewhere.
State Representative Dan Fisher (Republican, of course), who introduced the bill, denounced the new AP U.S. History framework because in the opinion of many conservatives it “emphasizes what is bad about America” and doesn’t teach “American exceptionalism."
This same complaint extends far beyond the dusty backwater of America’s Great Plains and has become a common item of debate in legislatures across the country where conservatives are even now considering bills that would ban all AP courses and not just history.
And the truly, truly disturbing part is that conservatives’ biggest complaint regarding the AP History curriculum isn’t that it’s wrong, instead they’re afraid it’s far too accurate.
Think about that for a minute.
Conservatives like Fisher believe public school should be less about learning and more about indoctrination.
They wish to hide the ugly and divisive parts of our past and remove from history those they deem “not like us.” And instead instill a sense of “exceptionalism” in the next generation by teaching only those things that make America look good.
"As I read through the document, I saw a consistently negative view of American history that highlights oppressors and exploiters"
― Larry S. Krieger, retired school teacher, conservative activist, exceptional American
Krieger told Newsweek that the AP History framework portrays the Founding Fathers as "bigots" and he complained that American exceptionalism embodied in the idea of Manifest Destiny was described in the curriculum as "built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority," rather than "the belief that America had a mission to spread democracy and new technology across the continent."
Krieger leaves out that if you weren’t white maybe Manifest Destiny might have looked like, well, a lot like colonialism. Mostly because it was.
Manifest Destiny is a great idea … so long as it’s your destiny being imposed at the point of a sword and the muzzle of a gun.
Others, however, might take a different view.
Fortunately for people like Larry Krieger and Dan Fisher, those people aren’t real Americans, they don’t love their country like we do, so they get written out of our history because there’s no lesson to be learned there.
These conservatives completely miss the point of education.
Let me give you an example: you’ve got this kid, see? He’s your boy and you love him. He’s handsome and he’s clever, sure, and he’s the apple of your eye. So far as you’re concerned he can do no wrong. But the thing is most everybody else thinks he’s a spoiled little shit. He’s selfish and self-centered, he’s greedy and obnoxious and arrogant, and he doesn’t give a damn about anybody but himself. He goes around making a mess and beating up the other kids. He takes what he wants and you never know when he’s going to throw a violent tantrum. Now, there’s nothing wrong with him, it’s not genetic, it’s you. You’re a lousy parent. Whenever he does something wrong, you tell him it’s okay. He’s special, see, exceptional, blessed by God. He doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t have to apologize. You love him, you love him better than any parent has ever loved a child, better than other parents love their children, and if you force him to face his mistakes, to think of others, to learn, well then that makes him feel bad about himself and that makes you a bad parent. Right?
You know people like this, don’t you? You know kids, sure you do, just like this. Spoiled rotten little brats.
Now, what kind of adult do you think that kid will grow up to be?
And why would you think a country who behaves in the same manner would be any different?
When you go around telling kids, and nations, that they are exceptional and that others don’t matter, well, then you get a nation of spoiled rotten little brats.
It’s taken me a week to write this essay, because unlike many of those opining on the subject, I actually read the AP History Guideline from cover to cover. Twice. While taking notes.
I saw nothing that gave a negative view of the United States. I saw nothing that made a judgment one way or the other.
In point of fact, the framework gives no answers whatsoever, it only asks questions.
Throughout the entire document, all 142 pages of it, the authors repeatedly stress that it is not a curriculum but rather a framework for further development and is to be tailored by each teacher to meet the needs of the students. The framework provides for broad flexibility, it outlines “key concepts” and does not, repeat does not, specify groups, individuals, dates, details, political opinions, right or wrong, moral or immoral, or any particular interpretation of history and you can verify that for your self directly from the source.
If conservatives see America in a negative light, perhaps it’s their own guilty conscience speaking.
This isn’t the simplified elementary version of American history made up of construction paper turkeys, smiling Indians, and cherry trees chopped down by future presidents. This isn’t the Mel Gibson version of America where white people and black people fought as equals to be free of the King of England and then when it was all over black people cheerfully decided to be slaves because hey, Captain Braveheart thought it seemed more exceptional on the big screen like that. That’s how conservatives want to teach history, the same way Gibson directs movies.
Advanced placement courses aren’t about indoctrination, they have one function: to teach future citizens how to think.
Advanced Placement courses are college level classes designed for top performing high school students who are preparing for a university level environment. By definition these kids are going to end up running the country one day and either they can base their worldview on made up magic fairy dust or they can face the challenges of our future armed with a thorough understanding of how we got here. Warts and all.
You don’t teach future business people how to run a company by only showing them pictures of John D. Rockefeller and Bill Gates. You don’t teach future doctors by only showing them happy cheerful healthy people. You don’t teach military officers how to fight by only showing them past victories.
If you want your kids to love this country, if you want them to successfully shape its future, then you have to show them everything. The good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly.
You hear people say “kids nowadays don’t know how good they have it!”
Well, why would they? Why would any American appreciate how far we’ve come, how good we have it, if they don’t know how we got here? Why would girls appreciate the right to vote if they don’t know their grandmothers couldn’t? Why would black youth appreciate the opportunities they have now if they don’t know the history of the civil rights movement? How do you prevent another World War II or another 911 or another Holocaust if you don’t care and refuse to understand what caused the last one? How do you expect the next generation to shape the future when they are told they’re special and exceptional and they can do no wrong?
Courage is about facing the world, not hiding from it.
Wisdom comes not from denying your mistakes, but from not repeating them. And you can’t do that if you refuse to acknowledge that you ever made any in the first place.
History is how we understand the present.
History is how we shape the future and forge our own destiny instead of allowing it to be thrust upon us.
If you don’t know history, the good and the bad, you will always be its slave and never its master.
If you want your children to shape their own future and the future of this nation, indeed the world, instead of being simply dragged along with the sweep of time, then they must know how we got here to this present.
If you want your children to be exceptional, then they have to understand history in full detail, all of it and not simply parrot mindless patriotism.
If you don’t know bad, you cannot know good.
If you don’t know ugly, you can never understand beauty.
If you’ve never seen true oppression, you can never appreciate true liberty.
If you don’t know tyranny, you can never understand freedom.
If you truly believe the United States to be exceptional, then you show it all and let the chips fall where they may. If you love your child then you teach them everything and trust in them to become exceptional adults.
The past, the present, the future are all connected. History, my friend, is a circuit and without a negative, there can be no positive.
If you don’t learn from history, you will never be its exception.
“It's been my experience, Langford, that the past always has a way of returning. Those who don't learn, or can't remember it, are doomed to repeat it.”
― Steve Berry, The Charlemagne Pursuit
“We're doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That's what it is to be alive. It's pretty dense kids who haven't figured that out by the time they're ten. Most kids can't afford to go to Harvard and be misinformed.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard