A Fifty-Year History of Anti-Patriotism in the United States

Patriotism is under attack.  The idea of the cultural Marxists on the left is to replace traditional patriotism with a different vision of the meaning of American nationalism from the vision that has obtained since 1776, although that traditional understanding and vision of the USA has gone through modifications over decades.  Unwillingness to say the Pledge of Allegiance or even to stand for the Pledge is not a first step in that direction, but part of an endgame toward a revised understanding of what America is and what its role is in history.  The readers of this article should not be surprised if legislation for a revised American flag is offered in the halls of Congress in the near future.

Many blacks and black athletes are unhappy with our country and the treatment of black citizens even though they have fared well.  Many fans even considered the victory by Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl racist.  In addition, an NBA owner, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks, said the Pledge of Allegiance would not be recited at home games.  Thus, an expression of traditional patriotism is portrayed by the knee-takers as an expression of racism.  This is increasingly becoming the narrative even though many black athletes have become cultural "role models" for many young men, both black and white, going back to Jackie Robinson in the 1950s and, a little later, to the incredible Jim Brown of the football Cleveland Browns.  Yet the success of integration into pro sports seems not to satisfy.  This white writer admired Jackie Robinson throughout my life as an example of someone who did the right thing, moved forward on the basis of his athletic merits, and ignored the catcalls and verbal abuse.  As a boy growing up, I hoped I would become a man of similar character.  Likewise, I watched Jim Brown get smashed into the ground after gaining yardage for the Browns, and I wondered how he would get up.  He would lift himself up very slowly, but on the next play, he would run just as hard or harder.  I found myself hoping I would have that kind of durability and determination in life.

Despite the breakthroughs of the past, with the success of black athletes as well as black politicians, nurses, physicians, entertainers, writers, professors, and business executives, the narrative of America's essential racism is still in place and growing.  The disparagement of the United States' traditional patriotism as being based on racism can be expected to continue.  The anti-patriotic N.Y. Times author of the 1619 Project is aggressively moving this narrative of the founding of the USA away from the history that states that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness were being attacked by British oppression.  The 1619 Project instead affirms that the U.S. came into existence to preserve and defend the institution of slavery.  According to this bleak and angry narrative, the founding of America was driven throughout by dark, racist motives.   

Anti-patriotism is a gradually upsurging socio-political trend, and I expect it to continue, not to decline.  The first phase of that trend was during the years following WWII up through the early '70s.  The second phase has been a regrouping and re-orientation of the left during the past fifty years.  This was a patient move forward and an American counterpart to Mao Zedong's "Long March."  

It began in our colleges and universities decades ago, after WWII, as a knee-jerk reaction to the Cold War against our "ally" in WWII, the USSR.  Rabid old-line commies and deluded "progressives" saw Russian and Chinese communism as attempts, albeit sometimes misguided, to make a better world.  Anti-patriotism morphed into an even more aggressive stage during the anti–Vietnam War movement in the sixties, and the civil rights struggles gave birth to radical hate groups like the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, and the Black Liberation Army (remember Patty Hearst holding a machine gun in a bank robbery?).  Only Martin Luther King's and Ralph Abernethy's Southern Christian Leadership Conference seemed to promise cultural and political reform without a violent agenda, and with a belief in traditional moral values.  The Communist Party USA continued to spew anti-American vitriol.    

Voting rights legislation had passed in the 1960s.  The Vietnam War had come to an end by the early '70s.  Many of the dissipated thug leaders of the more violent civil rights organizations gradually were imprisoned, were shot by police or confreres, fled to other countries, or settled into more peaceful lifestyles.  There was a lull in street protests and active, anti-American vitriol.  A rethinking of the path of anti-Americanism was taking place in leftist organizations.  In 1971, the Congressional Black Caucus was founded in the House of Representatives.  It now has 55 members.  The commitment shifted from the streets to working within the system.  Black Americans were a protected class under the law and thus enjoyed certain real-time protections against discrimination they believed had oppressed them during earlier decades.  

Anti-patriotism can literally be dated back 55 years.  Rejection of the flag and traditional patriotism has been with us for decades.  During the Vietnam War, the New York City schools stopped requiring daily recitation of the Pledge in effect since 1966, at the height of antiwar protests about Vietnam.  The pledge was not reinstated for more than 35 years.  That's right: they had 35 years without the Pledge being required in the public schools, which enroll approximately 1,000,000 kids a year.  After 9/11, N.Y. State mandated the Pledge.  But not all schools were in compliance, and there was no enforcement of the so-called "mandate."  At that time, I was teaching high school.  The school I was in complied with the mandate.  The principal ruled that the Pledge would be recited every day over the P.A. system, but that students did not have to stand; however, they could not talk during the Pledge and could not turn their backs on the flag (imagine: not turning one's back on the flag had to be given as policy as recently as 19 years ago).  Most other high schools were not even in compliance.  My former high school, when in session, continues to comply and recite the Pledge, although in the junior and senior homerooms, only 0–3 students can be seen standing and reciting.  

Now there is a virulent, aggressive, and far-left attack on capitalism, whites, the traditional family, straight males, and the very construction of the English language.  The old grievances about our country that had been addressed in the sixties and early seventies are now resurfacing in a mutated form that is more aggressive and uncompromising.  Unlike the sixties and seventies, one of our two major parties has embraced significant portions of the mutated, radical vision that is being advanced.

We are not simply "descending into the mud" of anti-patriotism.  We are immersed and suffocating within the mud, and soon it is likely that the Stars and Stripes will be dispensed with as the symbol of the country we love. 

Image via Max Pixel.

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