Any self-respecting country teaches each successive generation about its history, ideals, failures, and achievements. Patriotism is how a country survives, because love for one’s own is the strongest and most reliable motivator for self-defense against anarchy, crime, and foreign predation, all of which is necessary for a country to exist at all.
Of course, today’s American left doesn’t respect their own country. They despise it. So the usual suspects in corporate media immediately denounced President Trump’s new initiative for teaching American children to respect and understand the country providing them the best security in the world, the biggest social welfare state in the world, and the most expensive education system in the world.
On an “All Things Considered” discussion of Trump’s commission, NPR host Sacha Pfeiffer described Trump’s discussion of this topic as “the latest development in the cultural divisions Trump is trying to promote as part of his reelection campaign.” That was immediately after the show played a clip of Trump saying this: “We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”
To Pfeiffer, describing the United States as “the most exceptional nation in the history of the world” equals promoting “cultural division.” Maybe cultural division between Americans and non-Americans, which is precisely what Pfeiffer implies: that the United States is now divided between those who identify with it and those who identify in opposition to it.
As we are all, or should be all, aware by now, the Americans who identify in opposition to their own country are largely located among the political left, although the Republican Party contains a number of these as well. For example, 82 percent of Democrats in a July Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, and 30 percent of Republicans, agreed that “America is a racist society.” It is very obvious that the largest source of anti-American animus is among the political left. The people wantonly attacking Washington DC diners and burning down American cities, after all, don’t support borders, the rule of law, due process, or abolishing the minimum wage.
On the “All Things Considered” segment, Pfeiffer talked with NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith, who accidentally reinforced Trump’s point that higher education’s long-observed anti-Americanism is now embedded in public elementary schools: “There has been a growing effort by educators at all levels, even in elementary schools, to teach children about systemic racism, slavery as a founding sin of the nation, the genocide of Native Americans as part of westward expansion.”
Nobody is against teaching children the truth about their country’s history. Everyone is highly aware that U.S. governments and officials have overseen some genuine atrocities. We are reminded of them every single day. What American kids are not being taught proportionately, however, is what is good and noble about their country, or any sense of moral complexity and humility about the past. That is the problem.
When the first and often only thing Americans know about George Washington is that he was a slaveholder, they are not educated. They are propagandized. And that is a problem. Instead of engaging in this complex debate, and fairly considering the perspectives of Americans who are quite aware of their country’s failures yet still love it and have very good reasons for doing so, corporate media instead assists the schools’ propaganda campaign.
A Monday Washington Post article about Trump’s new patriotic education initiative was headlined, “Trump joins dictators and demagogues in touting ‘patriotic education.'” You can’t make this stuff up. Now loving your country despite knowing her many sins and not wanting taxpayer dollars to teach kids to hate it because of those sins is dictatorial.
The article, written by Post columnist Ishaan Tharoor, literally charged Americans with being racists if they consider themselves patriotic: “Critics argue that [Trump’s] conspicuous reference to ‘patriotic’ parents is simply another form of dog whistle to a predominantly White pool of voters uncomfortable with the ways the country’s demographics and wider cultural discourse are evolving.”
Let’s set aside, for now, the idiotic and false idea that the United States is a single ethnic group, such that loving our multiracial society somehow establishes a preference for “white people.” (In fact, because the United States and its founding ideals are pan-ethnic, loving it actually is, ipso facto, genuinely antiracist. But that’s too complicated for these people.)
Is it also totalitarian or racist for me to love my dad or grandpa even though they’ve done some bad and stupid stuff in their lives? What if I loved a person who committed serious crimes but has repented, served his time, and is now trying to keep from reoffending?
The left claims to love even unrepentant criminals and support their re-entry into society — such as accused rapists, whom the Democratic Party’s current vice presidential nominee helped bail out of jail. But no matter how America tries to atone for its crimes, to that same left their own country can never serve enough time.
To the guillotine with it, they say, and if you cry mercy, innocence, extenuating circumstances, or for a statute of limitations, you are an evil hater engaging in word violence who deserves to be beaten and have her life’s work burned to ashes. Or, at the very least, written off as a knuckle-dragging racist jackboot.