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July 2, 2020

The New Anti-Nationalism of the Left

American leftists are removing themselves from anything actually American.

If you think this country, this American idea, is worth preserving, now would be a good time to make your voice heard. It seems odd to say it after what we’ve been through in recent weeks, but we’re celebrating Independence Day this weekend. And our independence will certainly be on the ballot this November.

You might fly the flag; wear something red, white, and blue; read a good book; show your support for a local parade; roll down your car windows and turn up John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever”; or share this link with a veteran. You might even consider a small donation to a certain patriotic publication.

Or maybe, if you need to reconnect with what our Founders fought for — what they risked, what they lost, and what they ultimately won — you might read about 21-year-old Nathan Hale, who was denied by his captors a clergyman, denied a Bible, denied even an assurance that a farewell letter to his mother would be delivered. And why would the Redcoats behave so savagely toward a man about to hang? Because, according to the British provost-martial, “The rebels should not know they had a man in their army who could die with so much firmness.”

Perhaps you’ve sensed it, but patriotism has fallen out of favor with many. It has its roots in white supremacism, we’re told. In certain enclaves of intolerance, even wearing the wrong hat can get a guy beaten to a pulp.

This lack of love for our country is all part of a trend, sadly — a trend toward renunciation of the very things that make us American. As social scientist Eric Kaufmann writes in Quillette, “What has occurred across the West, especially in the English-speaking world, is a steady left-modernist march through the institutions. Beginning in the 1960s, former radicals entered universities and the media, capturing the meaning-producing machines of society. Once boomers became the establishment in the 1990s, the ethos of institutions started to shift. For good and ill, equality and diversity rose up the priority list. As these ideas filtered through schools of education and into the K-12 curriculum, older ideas of patriotism faded. … Sixty-three percent of millennials (aged 22–37) now agree that ‘America is a racist country,’ nearly half say it is ‘more racist than other countries,’ and 60 percent that it is a sexist country. Older generations are less radical, but 40–50 percent of boomers and Gen Xers agree with these statements, reflecting the long march of the New Left through American culture.”

Kaufmann’s article is long-ish but well worth reading. If you’re pressed for time, simply look at this graph:

It’s a series of 16 outlandish questions he asks of a group of 870 young Americans who consider themselves either “liberal” or “very liberal.” Should we find a new national anthem to better reflect our diversity? Should we rename our towns, cities, and states? Should we “respectfully” remove Mount Rushmore? You get the idea. Kaufmann’s findings should unsettle you.

His solution? A new “cultural nationalism,” one that bypasses the mainstream media and the educational establishment and instead uses the associations and institutions of civil society to “keep the country’s customs and traditions alive in recognizable form.”

We’re not sure how such an approach would begin, or who would be its champion. But perhaps there’s a Thomas Paine, a Patrick Henry, or a Samuel Adams out there — someone “keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

In the meantime, have a glorious Independence Day.

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