The United States would not exist if American colonists had not channelled the nationalism required to combat British oppression.
National identity is the infrastructure of common pride and belonging — free of race, gender, and politics — that separates advanced countries from blobs of land populated by boobs and yobs. Yet America recoils from demonstrating patriotism for fear of appearing a tyrant, instead of shining its nationalism as a torch for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
• Last week a military photographer was ripped online for posting photos of a baby wrapped in the American flag.
• Earlier this month undergraduate students at the University of California Irvine, voted to ban the Stars and Stripes on campus, charging it was racist.
• Last year the American Humanist Association sued a New Jersey school district for allowing the Pledge of Allegiance in its classrooms because it mentions “God.”
American nationalism contains such bragging rights for others that 1,432,365 people became U.S. citizens in 2013 and 2014, compared to 747,530 immigrants who sought the same status in New Zealand — the world’s most socially advanced nation — in 66 years.
The American flag is part of the package. It is the most recognizable and evocative pennant of all time, inked with the blood of brave Americans who continue to die on the battlefield rather than see her fold. Could you identify the national flag of Kiribati — a swirling blue and white affair with a yellow bird flying over the rising sun — as readily as Micronesians can peg Old Glory?
American patriotism, complete with resonant rites and symbols, has spread freedom, exposed despots, advanced humanity, and quelled domestic troubles that other countries — around since the dawn of civilization — have grappled unsuccessfully with for millennia. Yet most Americans think this country is unexceptional, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center poll, in a blow to the people who flock here for a better national identity than the one they left behind.
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