The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Odds Without Ends

Jeane Kirkpatrick, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, used these words in 1984 to describe San Francisco Democrats: “They always blame America first.”

Kirkpatrick’s flawed notion – to criticize Americans who are critical of the United States’ policies – has grown over the years into an even more warped philosophy: to call Americans “unpatriotic” if they speak out against their country. And this philosophy is very prevalent today.

Take, for example, Representative Heather Wilson of New Mexico, who recently appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation.

When asked if she agreed with Governor Sarah Palin’s implication of Senator Barack Obama as “unpatriotic,” she refused to disagree.

“He has talked down about America,” Wilson said. “He’s been critical not only of the President, but of American policy and hence has a kind of a negative view of America in the world. That’s not unusual, frankly, among liberals in kind of post-Vietnam America, to say that America is the problem.”

This sort of mindset – that those who are critical of our country are automatically unpatriotic and part of the problem – is simply wrong.

Now, especially, is a time when we need to re-examine American policies and figure out what has worked and what hasn’t.

The economic crisis of the past month has served as a devastating blow to our country, and a firm reminder that we are not the country we once were. No longer is America the sole superpower of the world.

Perhaps this is a hard concept for us to swallow, especially given that many of us are still under the same mindset we had during the late ’80s and early ’90s, a time of unparalleled growth for the United States.

The Cold War was effectively over, our economy was undisputedly the best in the world, and our military prowess was highly regarded.

We were lulled into a false sense of security, led to believe that we would never have to deal with attacks on our soil, a second Great Depression, or a loss of respect in the world community. We were the country that could tell other countries what to do, and they listened.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the first in what would become a series of unfortunate events during the Bush Administration that would completely change the way our country operated and is viewed by the rest of the world.

Now, countries like Russia and China are on the rise, posing a significant threat to unchecked United States supremacy.
With Russia’s vast oil reserves (second only to Saudi Arabia) and China’s bustling economy, it’s hard to argue that we are still the world’s undisputed leading nation.

If anything, now is the best time to look inward, examine why our country has taken such an economic tumble, explore why we have lost respect around the world, and use that information to better the country.

The “blame-America-first” accusations never addressed the real issues, and even went against the fundamental principles of our democracy — to freely question our country’s policies and keep the government in check.

So perhaps Representative Wilson, and Governor Palin as well, should think twice before calling Senator Obama unpatriotic. After all, is it unpatriotic to question the motives of a war that has gone on for years with no end in sight? Is it unpatriotic to question the massive deregulation that led to our current economic crisis? And is it unpatriotic to simply examine and criticize policies of our country that are understandably questionable?

Now, during this election, is the best time to question our country’s policies. It’s pointless to play the blame game; solutions are all that really matter.

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