Love and Shame

Michelle Obama--the wife of Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama--caused a bit of controversy recently when she remarked: "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."

This remark got a number of pundits in a collective snit, because they apparently believe that it's un-American or just plain wrong to be anything but undyingly proud of the United States.

My question to those folks who were offended by Michelle Obama's comment: Why do you think it's impossible to love your country, yet still be ashamed of it?

Take me. I really, really love this country. I love it that I can, for the most part, live my life however I choose to do so (within proper legal bounds, of course). I love the fact that I am allowed a job at a newspaper in a country where the media can print whatever opinions we choose. I honestly love baseball, my mom and apple pie. I love the fact that we have a brave, all-volunteer military force filled with people willing to put their lives on the line in whatever actions our government asks them to take.

However, today, I am also ashamed--deeply--about some aspects of my country. For example, I am mortified by the Iraq war and its costs, in terms of lives, money and the United States' worldwide reputation. And I am ashamed that my country now, as a matter of policy, doesn't always believe in habeas corpus but does believe in torture.

My feelings for my country are kind of like the feelings of a child with a beloved parent who, for whatever reason, did something horrible: I love it with all my heart--but that doesn't mean I am not ashamed of it sometimes.

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