A pair of surveys leading up to Independence Day revealed that a fairly significant percentage of Americans in the Millennial and Gen-Z demographic are not proud of their country, and their reasons for a lack of patriotism are not surprising. In fact they are fully justified.
In 2020 overall pride in America hit a historic low according to Gallup polling, but in 2021 there was slight uptick; likely because a fascist administration was on the way out. Still, compared to the start of the 21st century the percentage of people who are proud of America is “significantly” lower than 15 years ago.
Patriotism is a difficult term to define, but nonetheless, there are plenty of good reasons only 35 percent of Americans between the age of 18 to 24 in one polls say they are proud to be American.
According to interviews by a reporter for an activist group calling itself “a conservative watchdog to the nation’s higher education system,” Ophelia Jacobson says the blame belongs to society’s obsession with the concepts of “race and racism,” and “what is happening on college campuses.” Jacobson said:
“Young people are developing these anti-American sentiments in the classroom. I have spoken to dozens of college students both on and off camera and when I ask them where they develop their ideas and beliefs, they say college. Disdain for America is only growing stronger.”
Naturally, this blame education narrative is part and parcel of the conservatives’ violent antipathy for teaching American history according to the facts about the nation’s white supremacist founding. It is also revealing that Republicans are lying about critical race theory being taught in primary and secondary schools. Anyone who has attended college is aware that every subject, including history, is taught at a deeper level that may shock many students who are unaware of just how deeply ingrained white supremacy and racism really is in America. But racism is just the tip of the iceberg.
Over the past twenty years, America has invaded two sovereign nation because a gang of religious extremists few airplanes into American buildings in 2001.
In 2007-2008 America suffered a near-total economic collapse because a war mongering administration turned a blind eye to financial institutions’ greed.
Then, the election of an African American man as President in 2008 ushered in the blatant racial animus toward people of color that was always present, but not openly expressed. That all changed with Trump.
Over the past four years millennials and Gen Z watched an administration separate families and throw children into cages, elevate white supremacists and fascists to hero status, support white law enforcement’s murderous assault on unarmed African Americans, and then used chemical weapons on Americans protesting against racial injustice.
College students watched these atrocities happen in real time; they didn’t have to attend institutions of higher learning to learn their country was nothing whatsoever to be proud of.
However, when asked specifically why they were not proud to be Americans, there was a recurring theme that centered on education. One person who spoke to Newsweek and asked not to named because of the “febrile and violent political climate” said:
“Learning real American history has made me ashamed to be American. How can anyone learn about this country and feel proud? It confuses and sickens me. We were not created as a country with black and indigenous rights in mind, yet even stating something as basic as that makes me the enemy to millions of Americans who think I merely hate this country blindly.”
When asked what they think about the people who are proud to be Americans, the millennials interviewed “referred to patriotism as little more than successful brainwashing.”
They accurately noted:
“People proud of the country have been sold an alternate reality and have no desire to question what they’ve been taught. What is there to be proud of when millions of us .these last couple years have just learned about the Tulsa race massacre and the long since celebrated holiday of Juneteenth; two very important pieces of [American] history that have been purposely repressed?
A big issue with society in general is lack of a proper thorough education of our history and how we overlook or even get rid of the bad. It demonstrators our lack of a full historical education, and should be something every American can agree on as wrong to withhold from school children. It allows our prejudices to continue to exist by way of not addressing them and leaving bigotry unethically examined.”
It is true America could be a nation to be proud of, but an angry, racist, and ultra-religious minority will fight to the death to prevent the kind of change needed to be a nation that inspires pride. America is the richest country on Earth, but the wealth is being held by a tiny percentage of the population. A fact that millennials and Gen Z are all too aware of and the reality that does not inspire pride or patriotism.
If conservatives want younger Americans to show pride in their country, provide them with a reason to be patriotic. Start governing according to the will of the majority and cease pandering to racists, the super-rich, and religious fanatics that make up a minority of the population.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.