What does "hate America" mean?

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So-and-so "hates America" is such a common talking point. What does it mean to "hate America?" Mind you, I typically hear it from the likes of people who scream "Commie!" at the likes of Kucinich, so I shouldn't expect an intelligible response from such folks. But I thought I'd ask just the same.

On the flip side, what does "allegiance to country" mean?

Garrett78's picture
Garrett78
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Sep. 3, 2010 9:20 am

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The first to use this smear were the uberpatriots of the American Century who told anyone critical of their agenda that the wars were unjust, immoral or a racket. American power was supposed to be for good, and what made other empires bad or evil did not apply to us. So, criticizing the Vietnam War became hating America or "blaming America first."

"Loving America" once included the idea that it was not just about blind faith, "right or wrong," it was about loving what was "right" and correcting that which was "wrong." But, the latter was always subject to the patriot's flag waving, and dissent in WWI was punished severely.

Still, the idea that "liberals" hated America was part of the cultic phenom of the Reagan Revolution, and most of the Reagan Democrats were turned off by the "hippie war protesters" so they did not pay attention to what Reagan was doing to the New Deal and labor. We can also see the effect of WWII as those who served and watched their buddies die felt a blood investment in the "Good War" and America.

Progressives have only recently turned this around as the damage done by Bush and Cheney and the crass theft engineered by Wall St. has become apparent. Greed and partisan politics have trumped any sense of collective war effort by an innocent America; and the misuse of 9/11, much less its stinking roots, has belied any claims that it is about loving America and respecting its values.

One can argue that Cheney loves America but is also a sociopath and paranoid. He sincerely thought that running roughshod over the Constitution and doing what power needed was patriotic, but few agree, and it is clear that those who are drunk on hubris hate the Americans who do not agree with them. It becomes easy to say that anyone who would do what they have done to America must hate it.

I think the better question is who hates democracy?

DRC's picture
DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Hate and love are actions so someone who hates America is someone who acts against the best interest of the American state. That could include many "patriots" as well as many terrorists, yet through different means. How anyone feels about America is another story. Given our history of accomplishment and infamous empire building, anyone can justify their feelings.

I like America, but I don't kid myself it likes me.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 8:47 pm

You can love your teenage son when he has just wrecked the family car doing foolish things; but you may not like him very much at the same time. I always thought the charge was a canard and projection of bad faith.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I should have specified. I like much of American culture, not so much our foreign policy. I like American food, not so much our gluttony. I like the political system, again, not so much our gluttony. There's a lot of gluttony of money and of influence in Washington that starves our collective spirit.

You can hate America if you want to but it really is the embodiment of human American gluttony. We're sick, we need a great big gastric bypass that cuts down on the amount of special interest calories our representatives can absorb.

You're right, DRC, you can love the country by wanting it to be better and helping at every opportunity. You also don't have to like where the country is now or what the country has done to work to improve it. In fact, that's a very good reason to do that very thing.

The conservative saboteur mentality is a mystery to me.

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D_NATURED
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Oct. 20, 2010 8:47 pm

A country is not something to be loved or hated. It's something to be approved of or disapproved of.

America has some awesome real estate. I marvel at it. Russia also has some awesome real estate. I also marvel at it. The people of America and Russia are fundamentally similar. The only real difference is the comparative PTSD syndromes the two groups have undergone. America has a better Governmental design. America has a better geo-political situation. America's population of greedy and avaricious people are better restrained. People love their Government when it serves them personally. They hate it when it frustrates their personal ambitions.

The concept of "loving" one's country is a stupid and shallow concession to self-interest, enlightened or otherwise. It is non-sensical to be proud to be an American. Nobody has to accomplish much to be an American. Just fortunate enough to have been born in America or to have been made a citizen in the easiest possible way.

This is a specious thread.

Art's picture
Art
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Speaking as an outsider; British hopefully soon Scotish. I do not feel that people hate Americans per say, we love the people we met when we have been in your beautiful country. We even got married in your country and the warmth and love we got from nearly everyone we met was outstanding. But like our political class they do not exude this love, there seems to be an a mind set with being the big powerful man n the world and the war mongering has created some negative feeling, Tony Blair was no worse than Bush on this. Here we get lots of propganda about how great our empire was, there are some very ugly attitudes here with such as bits of foreign land are my birth right. At least you do not have laws on your books to discriminate against members of a certain church, ever wondered why one of the first thing Blair did after stepping down from PM was to get baptised? By laws you are less bigoted than the UK! Anyhow it is not that people abroad hate America, esp the people its the Politicians that are diliked and the near empire building, but at the end of it many nations have in the past done similar and were probaly less humane that the Americans, the English Empire certainly was and as I understand so was the french though better than the English.

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AlexG
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Jan. 28, 2012 4:57 pm

I was working with an electrician a couple months ago who went on vacation for a month in Australia and New Zealand. He said that the locals asked him and his buddy if they were Canadian. He said no, they were American and wondered why they asked if they were Canadian? The locals said that they usually can't tell the difference between Canadians and Americans, but when you ask a Canadian if they are American, often times they get pissed off and Americans don't really care if you call them Canadian. So, they always assume Canadian to avoid conflict.

Why do Canadians "hate America"? We're more than happy to take their unwanted tar sands and give them piles of money for it so we can further poison our environment by processing it and further enriching our rich. Oh, maybe they have a point.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Art:

This is a specious thread.

I think Garret's managed to provoke some thought -- even in you! I don't often see you write that much.

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am
I think Garret's managed to provoke some thought -- even in you! I don't often see you write that much.
I'm sorry that I don't often give vent to a lot of original thought. Given that the great majority of decisions that humans make are formed on an unconscious level, perhaps I need to get more in touch with my inner self.

The question was "What does 'Hate America' mean". Everybody understands the concept. Nobody seems to be able to describe the mechanics. I posit that this is because it is a specious concept.

Art's picture
Art
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Art:Nobody seems to be able to describe the mechanics.

Which drove me to start this thread.

I recommend what Robert Jensen wrote about patriotism in Citizens of the Empire, which I just discovered is available for free online. Anyone who wants can Bing/Google the following: uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/CoEPatriotism.pdf

Garrett78's picture
Garrett78
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Sep. 3, 2010 9:20 am
Which drove me to start this thread.
I sort of thought that's what you were getting at. I'm still hoping that somebody can describe what they mean when they use these phrases. No luck so far.

Art's picture
Art
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

It obviously means different things to different people. And it's a phrase that's often used effectively in some situations. It can create fear in someone charged with that, make them defensive which causes all sorts of automatic brain functions to take the place while turning off others, and it can be a group rallying cry to differentiate "us" from "them", a really important technique in managing a democracy. Hell, in the right circumstances the right person could utter it at just the right moment and get a mob to string someone up.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

To add another note to ren's point about "organizing mobs," "America" is a religious term more than a secular title for the United States. It implies a demand for loyalty that the latter does not. It bespeaks a shared vision which allows any visioner to require the other party to share it or else. This is why I try to get the Pledge as a historic shared vision for us to meet and discuss democracy.

What I want to purge is the "vision" of America as "destined" or "exceptional" because that quickly becomes the justification for empire and conquest/domination. If you say that America is not a force for good in the world, people get mad. If you criticize United States foreign policy, you may be able to find a lot of agreement.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
"America" is a religious term more than a secular title for the United States . . .
. . . which is exactly what renders the concept specious. It sounds like something that ought to be rational, when, in fact, it has no basis in reality.

Now, "loyalty" is a different matter. Not easy to parse a meaning, but probably well rooted in the hard-wiring of any social animal. Might make for a more meaningful discussion.

Art's picture
Art
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The reason we talk about a "loyal opposition" is to take away the fear factor from dissent. It is a healthy antidote because 'loyalty' is always something raised to arouse suspicion and ought to be presumed instead. Wars always drive a lot of bad thinking and emotions. We need to give up our use of war in real and metaphorical forms.

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