John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, and now at

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Your America

Even a has-been politician resorting to outright demagogy can point to matters of interest.

Rudolph Giuliani, one-time mayor of New York, told a group of conservatives that he doesn’t think that President Obama loves America, which invites us to consider what America he is talking about.

I wrote previously about the America that I think Mr. Giuliani is talking about: the America I grew up in, which was run by white men, largely Protestant though not so much as formerly, with a civic religion of American exceptionalism.*

The problem is that that America is fading. There are an estimated six million to seven millions Muslims living in the United States. They’re here, and here to stay. (By comparison, there are about 1.8 million Episcopalians.) There are about 19 million people of Asian descent. And there are about 54 million Hispanics. We have to find some way to accommodate the millions of Hispanics who are here illegally, because it would require an expensive police state to deport them all, and ruinously expensive to the farmers, hospitals, hotels, and restaurants that depend on their labor. They’re here to stay.

So as influential as the old white male culture continues to be, its dominance is threatened, and that explains some of the fevered imaginings about President Obama, that he is a secret Muslim, that he is not a native-born American,** that he is a Communist, that he is alien to us. Barack Obama, who continued many of the financial and national-security policies of George W. Bush, whose health care bill is a direct descendent of a Heritage Foundation proposal and an program enacted by a Republican governor of Massachusetts, who has been so cautiously conservative a Democrat as to set progressive teeth on edge every day.

But he does represent a changing demographic, that secular, multicultural society that conservatives, particularly white evangelical Christian conservatives, despise.

If I were a conservative, I would hesitate to suggest that the president of the United States hates America. But I am a hopeless East Coast media establishment liberal, so I’ll point out that the things that some conservatives fulminate about in this new America, the secularism, the tolerance, the gay marriage, the findings of science, are the same things that the Islamic State despises.  

I’m OK with them. It’s my country, too.

*I was denounced by a couple of former classmates on Facebook, one so intemperately that I took the unusual step of unfriending him, though several former classmates wrote that I was spot on.

**Another former classmate posted a link on Facebook today proving that the president was born in Kenya, which goes to show that the thoroughly traditional education we received in Fleming County, Kentucky, half a century ago did not necessarily immunize us against gullibility and nonsense.

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