I am a Critic

| February 24, 2015

I was struck by Rudy Giuliani’s recent chastising of President Obama, calling out Obama’s criticism of America and asserting that Obama does not love this country.

I know how it feels to have one’s criticism of America mistaken for being unpatriotic. When I write the rare controversial piece, I am told to leave America (I already temporarily have, thanks for reading); I am accused of being unpatriotic.

kari basic training air force 1997

Age: 22 (seriously; I know I look 12)

I have served in the Air Force, been a government employee, and contracted with the US government. I have put in my fair share of time in Iraq and all over the Middle East and North Africa.  I spent the first half of my marriage as a military wife, before transitioning to become the proud wife of a proud retiree. We are living as expats in Germany because my husband works for the US Department of Defense. Unless you define patriot as “someone who believes everything they read about America from their couch,” then I contend that I am a patriot.

I am also a critic. Why? Because I want my country to be the best country it can be. I want continual progress. I personally take my global experiences and apply them to America—giving criticism where criticism is due, and credit where credit is due. And damn if I don’t want a President who looks at America with a critical eye every single day.

I must say, if criticizing America makes one unpatriotic, then is criticizing America’s leader not by extension unpatriotic? I do not believe this to be the case, but I do believe the logic to be sound. Fortunately, you have every right to express your opinions in America, no matter how misguided (I’m looking at you, Mr. Giuliani).

air force master sergeant, ball gown

Ages ago (and probably the last time my hair was done up )

Clearly the authors of the Constitution were aware that they did not find themselves in a perfect union; they established the Constitution in order to form a “more perfect” one. They did not pen the Constitution with the goal of forming a “perfect” union because, I would contend, they knew that the resulting union still would be imperfect.

A patriot is not defined as one who blindly loves country, or believes his country to be perfect. A patriot is “a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion” –not only our country, but its interests. Should one of America’s greatest interests not be to continually improve? Someone who looks at matters with a critical eye is best fit to improve a situation. You must recognize where imperfection lies in order to improve the situation.

The gratuitous "Thanks for being a military wife" certificate.

The gratuitous “Thanks for being a military wife” certificate.

America as we know it, is the result of self-reflection and criticism: criticism of British rule; criticism of unequal rights for women and non-whites; criticism of labor laws. Defending the status quo does not equal patriotism.

Giuliani has since backtracked; he has graciously admitted that patriots can criticize. Thank you for that validation.



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Category: In Germany A Broad blog, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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