I found more evidence that Michelle Obama is ambivalent about her American identity in her 1985 thesis on racial identity among Princeton alumni. Her thesis is consistent with her very recent statement that she has never been proud of America before now. As I said in my last blog post -- the key issue here is identification. Obama does not identify as an American. That is why she is not proud of America.
I wasn't surprised to find out 'identification' is the focus of her thesis:
"My overall hypotheses described in this section focuses on the group with whom the respondents identify most. The independent variables measure indentification ..." (emphasis added). [p. 21 (pdf 25-501 p.3)]
Identification is not the same as a political opinion. It is a much deeper psychological force. Obama says in her thesis: identification is an independent variable that controls ideology (the dependent variable). Identity is not a 'youthful phase' (like the student radicals turned navel-gazing yuppies in The Big Chill.* (Note: Hillary Clinton was extremely radical at Yale.) Obama did not identify as American at Princeton and she doesn't now.
Much of the controversy around her lack of national pride focused on Obama's political attitudes. The Big Giant Head asked whether Obama 'dislikes America' and decided it wasn't fair to conclude Obama believes America is a bad country. The Giant Head missed the point -- not whether she's a Yankee-basher, but whether she identifies as an American.
I've read hundreds of blog posts by obvious patriots who are ashamed of America's behavior in Iraq. They are ashamed precisely because they identify as American. A Brazilian might also believe the war was wrong, but would a Brazilian say they were ashamed of the war?
The issue is not whether America has done bad things that a patriot or even a nationalist can criticize. The question is whether the Obamas identify with American success and failures at the core of their souls. The bigger question is whether someone who does not identify with America will bargain for the national interest as President.
This question is as fair as asking John Ashcroft whether his anti-choice religious beliefs would prevent him from enforcing Roe vs. Wade as Attorney General.
More from Obama's thesis:
"The individual's degree of identification with either Blacks or Whites will determine his/her motivations to benefit various social groups ..." [p. 21 (pdf 25-501 p.3)]
Likewise, whether an individual identifies with America or the Third World will determine his/her motivation to bargain for the best interest of one or the other. This is Obama's hypothesis. Her hypothesis begins with Obama's instincts, rooted in her personal experience and her own self-awareness. As a sociologist, she tries to confirm (or not) her hypothesis by collecting data -- but her hypothesis still reflects her thinking/her instincts (whether or not data confirms that others feel the same as she does).
In her thesis, Obama refers to Blacks at Princeton as 'Third World' students:
"...there is only one major University recognized organization on campus designed specifically for the intellectual and social interests of Blacks and other Third World students." (emphasis added) [p. 58 (pdf 51-751-15)].
----Not 'blacks and Third World students', but 'blacks and other Third World students.' Presumably most of the blacks at Princeton were born American citizens, nevertheless Obama identifies them as 'Third World' because they are non-white.
"Thus, if a survey were to be made today of the level of Black involvement in minority organizations ... But, on the other hand, the percentage of involvement in Third World organizations would be much lower now than then." (emphasis added). [p. 60 (pdf 51-751-17)]
----Again, she uses 'Third World organization' and 'minority organization' interchangeably.
None of this is surprising, none of it is especially radical. None of it is objectionable. Except the Obamas are running for the Presidency of the United States -- not Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Empathy with the Third World (definitely a good thing) is not the same as placing Third World interests above U.S. national interest. You don't have to grow up in Indonesia to know invading Iraq was not in our national interest. The first President Bush understood that. Even Conservative Reaganites on the Iraq Study Group (James Baker, Day O'Connor, Ed Meese) understood that.
There's a huge difference between giving charitably to someone less fortunate than you and giving 50+% of your income to someone less fortunate. Remember that the Third World, China, Russia, South America and EU will all bargain aggressively for their own national interests, with no thought to the well-being of America's middle class.
In her foreign policy address, Clinton spoke of upcoming negotiations with China on currency and finance. She called China a new "global superpower" and vowed to go to the table with China as a tough negotiator (i.e., a bitch) for American interests. (I believe her -- not because of the speech (anybody can give a tough speech) but because of her long history of bad-assedness.) Now she won't bang on the table with her high heel shoe like nutty Nikita Kruschev, but she ain't taking no shit neither. Hers is the balanced course I think we should follow.
If Obama becomes President, would he negotiate with China and the EU aggressively as the American Head of State? Or as if he were U.N. Secretary-General? His base in Hypocrisy Inc. (MoveOn.DailyKos) want the Secretary-General approach (also do a significant amount of black voters who think like his wife). Does Obama want to balance the interests of America with the Third World? Or leverage American power to maximize our national interest with the understanding that bullying/overplaying our hand (the Bush doctrine) is not in our interest.
It's possible that, with the coming age of nuclear terrorism, the only way to avoid nuclear attack is for America to stand down as a superpower. Maybe we need an American Gorbachev. Maybe that would be a disastrous mistake. To me, it's the key question in this election: Should we/will we stand down as a superpower?
We have to talk about it. And political correctness should not shield any candidate in that debate.
*I personally can't relate to 'The Big Chill.' As a black person, my youthful values have not fundamentally changed since college. Where the political views of my white college classmates were at odds with their parents, my views were, if anything, less radical than my parents--and still are! My mother votes for Reverend Sharpton! I'd bet the 'generation gap' in political views is much greater for whites than blacks. It's just not a 'youthful phase' for us. We don't 'outgrow' Franz Fanon or Malcom X. Most of the root values/beliefs I express in my blog--my self-concept, views on the Constitution, America, foreign affairs--persist from my college years.