Last weekend, former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani attracted attention with remarks he made at a conservative event. Speaking at a former speakeasy, Giuliani said, “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.” These deficiencies were later elaborated upon by Governor Scott Walker, who was also in attendance and was asked if he thought that Obama loves America. Walker responded with appropriate humility, stating that he didn’t know that about Obama, since he’d never spoken with the President about that subject. Giuliani, however, has received death threats for his remarks.
Why have these seemingly minor comments evoked such rage? Neither Walker nor Giuliani said anything which deserves the level of rage it has evoked from the left, but that has almost never stopped up the sewers of moral outrage. To answer this question, we have to explore the basic concept underlying the former Mayor’s conclusion: loyalty.
Loyalty is the virtue of recognizing an obligation we have to something, or to someone. The Roman Cicero saw that Rome had a claim to the service of a citizen when he wrote, “Our country has not given us birth and reared us without expecting from us in return some ‘nurture-fee.'” For the Greeks, love of place was shown by Odysseus, who journeyed ten years through witches, gods and temptations, to arrive home on the rocky island of Ithaca. Jews, with their ancient memory, still say every year at Passover, “Next year in Jerusalem!” The British philosopher Roger Scruton has coined the term oikophilia, to describe the love of place which much of mankind follows.
At its core, loyalty is strongest when binds us to those things closest to us. In his defense of social loyalties, Edmund Burke wrote that each man should look first to the “little platoon” to which he belonged. The Scottish writer, Walter Scott, wrote the following in one of his poems: “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,/who never to himself hath said,/this is my own my, my native land!” None of the philosophers or writers mentioned here looked toward abstract notions of universal justice or global governance. They wisely saw that people are at their best if we live and sacrifice for the things we know, and we know what is nearest and dearest to us.
There are also people in the world who, by contrast, see nothing of worth or value in their native lands. These are people who prefer to defend their nation’s enemies, while living under the protection of their own nation’s armed forces. Leftists claim loyalty to grand ideas of “equality,” “brotherhood,” and “democracy,” even as they deny these things to people who don’t follow the Leftist line. The radical godfather, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, proclaimed his love for mankind and his hatred for individual men. It is easy to love an idea, because the idea will never disappoint. Loving mankind is easy, but loving men is hard–a fact that the life of any Christian saint amply demonstrates.
This comes to the heart of the issue of why Mayor Giuliani and Governor Walker have earned Leftist ire: they have shown that, for many Americans, our President shares none of the loyalties which inspire us. At the very least, Giuliani pointed this out directly and Walker left open the question of its impact.
Why does Obama show none of these loyalties to community, city, state, or nation? It is because Obama’s moral universe is one in which America is inevitably a source of evil, not good. Obama clearly prefers the transnational world of abstract loyalties to the realm of local nations and distinct communities.
The problem with the transnational is that it has nothing concrete toward which ordinary men and women can look for inspiration and guidance. The EU, perhaps the prime example of transnationalism in the world today, has largely failed to win the loyalties of ordinary Frenchmen, Englishman, Spaniards, and Italians. There is a reason for this: human beings live and find meaning in the context of a family and a community. Each people group carry with it a history, which often serves as a guide to the groups’ members. All these loyalties may exist in tension with each other.
In effect, our President has no effective grounding in the world of meaning which is common to many Americans. Obama has contempt for the loyalties of family and national life, loyalty to the Constitution and our nations Framers. He has little regard for the loyalties of military life. He fails to understand these loyalties because his are completely different. He stands for loyalty to the causes of radical racial politics, gender identity, and the apparent right of every people to live as they please, except for Americans.
For saying these things, conservatives are accused of racism time and time again. Racism is the great sin of our age, but it is more likley that those who see racism everywhere are themselves guilty of the same! Conservatives and libertarians aren’t seeing a black man when they look at Obama, but a man filled with errors and weaknesses of his own. President Obama, like all leaders, must be criticized by those whose duty it is to do so, and this is especially true when his philosophical leanings pose a threat to the primacy of our nation.