I sometimes imagine conversations, and tonight I was imagining a reply, verging on a rant, to certain liberal acquaintances of mine who confess to feeling rather anti-American at present. It went something like this:
We are facing some extremely difficult dilemmas, having to do with how to fight a vicious and fanatical enemy while maintaining our grasp on generally decent, and specifically American, values. If the problem were an easy one, we would not have bone-deep civil libertarians like Alan Dershowitz tossing around ideas like torture warrants. It is not just evil right-wing evangelical corrupt corporate puppets who consider countenancing some dubious tactics.
Why do you leave out of the equation the fact that this country sometimes promotes, and even supports, democratic ideals and democratic reform movements? I have little confidence in my historical knowledge on this point, and I welcome corrections (if supported with specific and reliable citations) -- but haven't we pushed democracy more, maybe a lot more, than any of the other major democracies out there? The sins we've committed against that ideal -- the backroom deals, the blind eyes, the hypocrisies, the betrayals -- we share with our European counterparts, but how often have they put cynicism and pessimism aside to urge democracy on? At least we've talked the talk -- and lately, we've been doing a little better at walking the walk.
So give us some g-----n credit!