Youthful Super-Patriotism

Today, while I was fidgeting around with the American flag, I kindly asked my youngest 6 year old brother to say the Pledge of Allegiance, not expecting much. He said it word for word and, despite irregular pauses between phrases, managed to recite it fully and was overly-content when he finished.

I then asked him what it meant, and I was sincerely surprised at his answer even though I should have known better; he didn’t have the slightest idea. He was just telling it as he was taught in school, without any any comprehension of what he was proudly repeating every morning in school.

Frankly, this is seemingly a product of – to borrow a word from the lexicon of Michael Parenti – Superpatriotism. He describes it in these words;

 

Superpatriots are those people who place national pride and American supremacy above every other public consideration, those who follow leaders uncritically, especially in their war policies abroad.

Parenti goes on to describe it ideologically in more detail;

The superpatriot’s America is a simplified ideological abstraction, an emotive symbol represented by other abstract symbols like the flag. It is the object of a faithlike devotion, unencumbered by honest history. For the superpatriot, those who do not share in this uncritical Americanism ought to go live in some other country.

Is the American school system raising a passive society of ‘Superpatriots?’ Although too young to understand ideological connotations and public policy or to form their own opinions, one of first lessons in elementary education is instilling vibrant nationalism, indulging them in American Exceptionalism,’ and learning the Pledge of Allegiance. This, to me, is nationalistic madness because it is this type of ideology that drives self-destructive policies and cultivates, either intentionally or not, a breed of obedience that is dangerous to civic duties and functions.

This you are either with or against us’ nationalist fervor is a true danger to a societal vigilance; if anything nationalism should be reasoned, discussed, and accepted voluntarily (if even that) at a certain coming of age, not imposed on the feeblest of minds.

Moreover, why are we replacing skepticism with blind love of the state? As Howard Zinn said: “Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism!” 

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