Let’s be clear: Americans tend to be pretty patriotic people. As Forbes reported, surveys consistently show that we’ve remained overwhelmingly proud of our country over the years. But there is also a growing discomfort among many — especially younger Americans — with being terribly open or enthusiastic about their patriotism.
Why is this? For starters, many global dilemmas over the 20th century — including World War II, the Cold War, and China’s Cultural Revolution — started with specific governments leveraging ultra-nationalistic feelings in their respective countries. Since then, many intellectuals have fought against any ideas or terminology that put too much emphasis on the “national cause,” embracing the concept of “global responsibility” instead. Governments and peoples, the story goes, should be committed to the good of all world citizens, rather than focusing on their own national interests.
This pluralistic message very quickly began filtering into the education system and public schools. Beginning very early on, proponents of this perspective advocated for the U.N. and others to push the ideas of a “global society” into schools around the world. In January 1946, the NEA Journal published “The Teacher and World Government,” by Joy Elmer Morgan, in which she wrote:
In the struggle to establish an adequate world government, the teacher … can do much to prepare the hearts and minds of children for global understanding and cooperation. … At the very top of all the agencies which will assure the coming of world government must stand the school, the teacher, and the organized profession.
These efforts have progressed so far that talk of diversity, tolerance, relativism, and globalism dominate school curriculums to the point of training students into thinking they ought to be apologizing for America’s past — for everything from slavery to Manifest Destiny to the War on Terror — rather than taking pride in their home country. What young people hear in school is being reinforced by voices in Hollywood, television, and the media, who have taken up the song of relativistic globalism. Compound all this pressure with the rejection of America’s unique world stature by the 1960s “hip” culture, and the overwhelming message young people receive is that patriotism is emphatically “not cool.”
Given all these factors, it is not surprising that younger Americans poll as less patriotic than their elders. What is perhaps surprising is that the vast majority of young people don’t downright hate their country, given all the antinationalistic propaganda with which they’re presented.
While no one wants to see another Napoleon, Hitler, or Stalin ride a wave of nationalistic fervor to power and commit horrible atrocities, can we really expect America to remain strong in the coming decades if our up-and-coming generations are being told that our country is not worth loving or protecting? It’s a worthwhile question to ponder. And if you come to the conclusion that this trend bodes ill for America’s future, it is worth more than simply pondering, it’s worth taking action.