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« Philly Serial Killer Strikes Again | Main | Justices Attending Meetings of Political Organizations »

January 19, 2011

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"Nationalism is a common way of conjuring this higher level of belonginess. In America, nationalism was made possible by the exclusion of blacks from the definition of "American." Once that notion was undermined, whites started either turning away from nationalism or re-defined "the nation" using their own idiosyncratic measures"

Or perhaps the concerted ideological effort from the 70's to the 90's to scrub public education and higher education of any and all possible positive interpretation of American history helped put a serious dent in the cultivation of a higher abstract loyalty to the nation, once quaintly known as "patriotism".

People generally do not learn non-obvious abstractions they are not taught but easily gravitate to concretes they see in their immediate environment without being taught. Children, in particular, react to signals of disapproval even if they do not understand the nature of what is being discussed - particularly when the adults themselves are generally ignorant of history and the mechanics of constitutional government and cannot give them any kind of context.

I think we could draw a much straighter line from that than from any indirect negative reaction among whites to the civil rights era causing them to slowly reject America the nation-state.

Hey zen-
"Or perhaps the concerted ideological effort from the 70's to the 90's to scrub public education and higher education of any and all possible positive interpretation of American history helped put a serious dent in the cultivation of a higher abstract loyalty to the nation, once quaintly known as 'patriotism'."

The notion that there was such an "ideological effort" is one of the arguments by the Right that some Americans were unpatriotic and thus not "real Americans" - a formulation we have with us to this day. I'm a child of the 70s, and I didn't see any evidence that such a program existed in my East Coast city, where you'd expect to find it. What I did see was parents sending their kids off to fight in Vietnam, American flag decals on a lot of people's cars, and guys in my all-white neighborhood attacking any black man who stepped foot in it.

"People generally do not learn non-obvious abstractions they are not taught but easily gravitate to concretes they see in their immediate environment without being taught."

I agree with that. But kids get most of their beliefs outside of school. One of my first jobs out of college in the 80s was with a large accounting firm. Three partners took me along to lunch one day and in the course of conversation the subject of how the hippies lost the Vietnam war came up. They were unanimous that they had. Where did these guys get such ideas? The "concretes in their immediate environment" when they were younger didn't communicate that America was unworthy of patriotism, but that they were part of the "silent majority" and the long-hairs were foolish at best and traitors at worst. Their beliefs were the result of the actual "ideological effort" of the Right.

Take another, more recent example. I went to the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot in Kentucky last year. There was a voluble range safety officer who also acted as a kind of M.C. with a microphone. The way the shoot works is that people gather around to watch the exhibitors line up on the firing line and shoot for a fixed period of time, and then take a break, so the range officer is constantly talking to the crowd and the shooters. Same guy gave the morning prayer and lead the singing of the National Anthem before breakfast over the P.A., too. Many thousands of people attend this event over the course of three days. Mostly adults in the audience, but a lot of kids, too, of course. Almost 100% white. Some of the targets in the field were voting booths from the 2008 election. The range officer gave little speeches before each shooting period, and in several the message was that some people were trying to take away all of our rights, starting with our guns, and that the very act of shooting was one of political defiance to tyranny. Pelosi and Obama were prominently mentioned. He ended one sermon memorably by shouting, "Think of the people who want to take away your rights and FIRE!"

Now that is what I'd call "concretes they see in their immediate environment" for the people in attendance. And there is just nothing equivalent on the Left, and never has been.

"The notion that there was such an "ideological effort" is one of the arguments by the Right that some Americans were unpatriotic and thus not "real Americans" - a formulation we have with us to this day. I'm a child of the 70s, and I didn't see any evidence that such a program existed in my East Coast city, where you'd expect to find it. What I did see was parents sending their kids off to fight in Vietnam, American flag decals on a lot of people's cars, and guys in my all-white neighborhood attacking any black man who stepped foot in it. "

The two are not mutually exclusive, Mithras.

You can have working class racist whites attacking black men in Boston or Cicero in the same country where, say at Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, FALN activists replaced the US flag with Puerto Rican flags and imposed a wacky curriculum and embezzled school funds. Or Yale eliminated Western civ requirements after a crowd led by Jesse Jackson chants "Hey, hey ho, ho Western civ has got to go"

The NEA Today, the trade mag of the NEA, recently featured a story of a Latina activist running a Hispanic Studies program in a High School that the state of AZ basically is trying to legislate out of existence. The teacher denied her program is anti-white or anti-American but the glossy pic shows her standing in a classroom decorated with Marxist propaganda, which leads one to question how closely she is adhering to her legal and ethical responsibilities of teaching controversial material to a captive audience of minors with some semblance of balance. She's not of course, she's indoctrinating and illegally using the school as a recruiting ground for her political causes.

BTW I've been a national delegate to the NEA twice and spent a considerable amount of time handling difficult union business. There's a definite need for the organization but some of the members are, in my view, political activists first and foremost, especially those from California's locals for whom 1968 never stopped.

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