American Nationalism: What are We Supposed to be Proud of?

American Nationalism: What are We Supposed to be Proud of? July 18, 2019


When my son was in preschool, he learned to memorize the pledge of allegiance before he even learned to write his name. That pretty much sums up this country’s priorities – the constant obsession with American nationalism got us looking eerily similar to a pre-WWII Germany.

The American brand of nationalism, backed by white conservative Christianity, is dangerous, incredibly disturbing, and I feel like the Whitest Kids U Know really captured the essence of the pledge and our nationalistic ideals back in 2013, even before American Nazis freely roamed our streets.

“I Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, thank you very very very much for letting us little kids live here. It really really was nice of you. You didn’t have to do it. And it’s really not crazy to have little little kids mindlessly recite this anthem everyday and pledge their life to a government before their old enough to really think about what they’re saying. This is not a form of brain washing. This is not a form of brain washing. This is not a form of brain washing. This is really the greatest country in the whole world. All the other countries suck. And if this country ever goes to war as it often wants to do, I promise to help go and kill the other countries kids. God bless Johnson & Johnson. God bless GE. God bless Citi Group. Amen.”

This version feels more authentic, ya know? I mean, we could at least be kind of honest while we brainwash our children.

In all seriousness, as Americans, we are supposed to have this unwavering pride for America, but the truth is, how can we be proud when underneath all of its glorious propaganda and unwarranted claims to greatness, the basic structure of this country is based on gross oppression?

I mean, am I supposed to be proud to be from the nation that holds the world’s highest incarceration rates and uses the justice system to keep private prisons rich instead of their citizens safe?

Am I supposed to be proud that my country is the only developed nation that doesn’t allow all of its people access to basic healthcare?

Am I supposed to be proud of a country that is known around the world for its mass shootings of school children and lack of action to keep kids from being murdered in their classrooms?

Am I supposed to be proud that my country is the world’s largest arms dealers?

Am I supposed to be proud to live in a country where the police regularly abuse and even murder unarmed people of color without repercussions?

Proud to live in a country that locks children in cages because their parents are desperately trying to give them basic safety?

Proud to live in a country where a racist, narcissistic, sexual predator is leader?

The list goes on.

From the creation of this nation based on the genocide of natives, to our economy being built on enslaving people or color, to the war machine we have been for years and years. The real question is, why would any decent humans be proud of these sorts of American ideals?

Right now we find ourselves in a unique place in history and the silver lining – regardless of all the atrocities this country has inflicted in the name of a fabricated and twisted idea of freedom – is that there is hope for us yet.

When I look at the rising resistance, more and more people desperate for change, ready to fight to see love finally win, I am proud.

When I watch the freshman, congresswomen stand boldly against the machine of oppression that is D.C., I am proud.

When I stand among thousands of others all around this nation in protest of the crimes against humanity being committed by our country, there is hope.

When I see that you have finally become fed up enough to clap back against oppression every single damn time, I am so proud.

Because of you – the resistance, the world-changers, the bad ass bitches – I know that though today we stand in the middle of the trenches, hope shines through and one day we will build a country that doesn’t demand our pride, but actually deserves it.

About Sheri Faye Rosendahl

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  • John

    If these were the only parameters by which we can judge our nation, then you may have a legitimate point to your outrage. Certainly some stand true, to a degree, and we will never be want of social ills with which to engage and improve. But it is intellectually dishonest to say this is all there is, and it is equally ignorant to judge the past through a modern lens. The intensity of current issues need not drive us to extremes, but that is what is happening, and seemingly only for political gain. The only choices of either A or B politically and culturally are so tiresome, and we are made to think those are the only viable choices, so we must conform to one camp or the other either by our own will or by the labeling of others. Until each side rises above the current divisiveness and lust for power, then it will only get worse, and you will have more examples for your outrage.

  • Pennybird

    I am proud of our ability to evolve. We are in a pretty bad stretch right now, but the severity of it could spur more of us to be our better selves and right this ship while we still can.

  • Mirror

    If you don’t get it, you are free to leave, and go somewhere where “they get it right” and you can be proud. So … where will you go?

  • bayhuntr

    As I read your comment, I thought of a couple hundred years ago, some British guy writing that to Thomas Jefferson.
    I don’t know if you know your history, but he didn’t leave, he change things and made it better.

  • Paul Tyler

    I guess, Sheri Faye, that the author of this comment is all in on the outrages you so ably delineated. Mostly the “love it or leave it” crowd says “We like our white supremacy.”

  • bayhuntr

    There’s a lot of ways to judge a nation, I didn’t actually hear a claim that those were the only ways, there are many other ways to judge a nation.
    The first thing you need to decide is what are you measuring, freedom? Violence? Stability? Corruption? Wealth? Middle class? The rich? Rule of law?
    I personally don’t buy the, there’s two camps that are equally correct, I actually believe there are is good and bad in those camps. Use the golden rule and come from freedom, you’ll very quickly find one of the camps doesn’t cut it.

  • billwald

    We should only have pride in what we have personally accomplished . . . and keep quiet about it.

    We should respect, give thanks for, admire . . .the honorable acts and accomplishments of other honorable people.Pun intended.

    All things considered, the USA has been the greatest, most honorable, most moral nation in the history of the world, but that isn’t saying much.

    No nation in the world has done more to help working class people have a civilized life. If you know a better nation and they will admit you . . . go in peace.

  • billwald

    Not exactly. In this century, civilized people of all “kinds” respect and associate with other civilized person of any”kind.” And losers choose losers. Middle class people are in the middle class.

    Our social classes are so flexible that the people in the middle don’t know where they belong. Transition down is easy. Transition up is harder but possible for anyone with average smarts, health, and above average ambition.

    Me, I found my middle middle “brier patch” and have lived happily ever after.

  • Silverwolf13

    If you seriously “pledge allegiance . . . to the republic for which it stands,” you will reject Trump because he is trying to turn our republic into an oligarchy. You will also reject the phrase “under god” as being antithetical to a secular republic.

  • Silverwolf13

    Actually, class mobility in the US is more difficult than in many European countries.

  • Silverwolf13

    The US is defined as a Republic in which all are equal before the law, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, skin color, or sexual preference. Do you get all of these? If not, the door is open.

  • Silverwolf13

    Great post. Our task now is to keep ensuring that working class people have a civilized life, and to be a moral leader.

  • Jesse H

    This article shows why the divide in this country is so great. I would dispute so many supposed facts in this article. And then the framework that looks at those supposed facts. But unless we can dialogue over these supposed facts we can’t truly dialogue. US having a strong military, being tough on crime, supporting individual rights to choose healthcare, cops shooting people who shoot at them, and actually statistically fewer minorites than whites getting shot, all Trump supporters being racist?, war on terror a bad thing? The list goes on.

  • Jesse H

    We were never meant to be a secular republic. We were meant to be a democratic republic, and a moral people of faith undergirds a free society. Gov’t is not meant to be anti-religious or irreligious, it is meant to not promote the establishment of a state religion.

  • Silverwolf13

    If there is no state religion, then government does not promote belief in any particular god or gods. This is, by definition, secular.

  • Jesse H

    Technically you’re correct, but I could just as easily say laws about religious belief are secular laws. It’s a bit of a category error. We are meant to be a republic which doesn’t promote one religion over another, but religious belief forms the moral bedrock upon which we build individual freedoms. A secularist can also propose moral beliefs, but often the framework is different and changeable.

  • Silverwolf13

    Many, if not most, of the Founders were deists, not Christian. Also note that for most of our national history, most religions supported slavery, then segregation. Not much moral basis there.

  • Jesse H

    First, you’re very clearly wrong, the majority were Christians, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin get exaggerated notice as deists, but here’s the breakdown. And we know that the Constitution recognized the equality of everyone, Jefferson notes that this is inherently against slavery, but they had to deal with the reality they had. And it played out 60 years later in a Civil war which resolved the issue. And of course the moral basis won out. Christians were the first to outlaw slavery in Great Britain, this played out in America, and Christians were against segregation as well. There were some Christians who were wrong, but the truth prevailed, as it always does.

  • Silverwolf13

    Revisionist history, but that’s what you want to believe. Of course, Jefferson and Franklin are listed as Anglicans, because that was required in most colonies. That is no indication of what they actually believed.

    Also note that Jefferson may have been troubled by slavery but he did not free his slaves, even in his will. Washington, in his will, freed his slaves, though not Martha’s. George Mason freed his 1,000+ slaves during his lifetime. Jefferson, like Washington, bought advertisements to try to recapture runaway slaves.

    As for segregation, read Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. It is addressed to the Christian ministers who said that they supported integration, but that the time was just not right. Dr. King destroyed this excuse by pointing out how, throughout history, the time had never been right.

    I grew up in Catholic schools in Mobile, AL. The Catholic schools there did not integrate until the year after the public schools began court-ordered integration. Many Southern Baptist and Southern Methodist churches throughout the South started their own “segregation academies.”

    While many rabbis and Christian and Unitarian ministers did stand bravely for civil rights, several at the cost of their lives, most had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards acceptance of racial equality. Many do not accept it to this day.

  • Jesse H

    I agreed that Jefferson and Franklin are deists. I also agree there is some hypocrisy both in how the Founders spoke about rights for everyone and how this played out with slaves. But the rights endowed by a Creator apply to everyone, that’s clearly what the Founders believed. I also agree that there were Christians who were on the wrong side of the segregation issue. I think it is a complex issue because what works best is from the ground up. We want all cultures and races to focus on education and determination and thus raise themselves.

    We disagree that fundamentally Baptists, Methodists and Catholics don’t believe in racial equality. You are throwing around terms like “most” and “many.” That’s simply not the case. Baptists, Methodists, Catholics all have vibrant representation of black, Latino and Asian ministers.

  • Silverwolf13

    The lazy wannabe patriot says, “My country right or wrong. Love it or leave it.” The true patriot says, “My country, when right, to keep it right; and when wrong, to make it right.”

  • Silverwolf13

    The Southern Baptist Convention split with other Baptists at the time of the Civil War. The Southern Methodists split from the United Methodists during the Civil Rights Era. Both founded several “segregation academies” throughout the South.

  • Jesse H

    And then the Southern Baptists and Methodists rejoined their Northern counterparts. Were bad things done? Of course, but good prevailed.

  • Silverwolf13

    The Southern Baptist Convention is today the largest Protestant denomination in the country. The Southern Methodist Church is also still going.

  • Jesse H

    But they aren’t just “Southern.” Both of them are all over the world. And they aren’t racist institutions.

  • Silverwolf13

    First, you said that they reunited with their northern branches. When I showed that you were wrong, you said that they’re all over the world, and they aren’t racist. So, to anything I say, you’ll just make up something else.

    The Southern Methodist Church is still pretty much confined to the US South. It has not spread outside the US. The SBC has been busy evangelizing, especially among such heathens as members of rival Baptist Churches.

    For both, the foundation of their doctrine is still racism.

  • Jesse H

    Let’s be fair here. Historically we did have some denominational splits and then convergences after the Civil War. But to simply say that a denomination with “Southern” in its title is racist is the problem. I agree the SBC is more worldwide than the S. Methodist Church, but I would challenge you to find an example of a racist doctrine promoted either by the SBC or the SMC that hasn’t been strictly condemned by both those organizations.

    You say that the foundation of their doctrine is racism, what exactly is that foundation? The foundation for both of those is the idea that all mankind are imago Dei and thus of innate and unique worth.

  • Since it is unclear to me what your lifestance is, I journeyed on over to some of your other comments.

    Here, you wrote, “…but they had to deal with the reality they had.”

    Actually not. There were other Founding Fathers who were strong abolitionists, ones who owned no slaves, etc.
    There were other Americans who had owned slaves, but who freed their slaves, but Jefferson never did, not even in his will at his death.

    Jefferson, like many humans, was contradictory, one part of him opposed slavery, but the other part of him thought that slavery was necessary for him to have the ideal plantation.