LOGIN

Defining Patriotism in an Increasingly Polarized United States

by Joshua Brown
8 comments
patriotism

Introduction:
As the United States remains deeply divided, the definition of patriotism is becoming increasingly subjective, dependent on the perspective of the individual being asked. While millions of Americans participate in Independence Day celebrations, commemorating the bravery of 18th-century patriots who fought for independence, the concept of patriotism has evolved beyond its original meaning. It has become entangled in political discourse, educational curricula, and has even been co-opted by white nationalist groups. Consequently, determining what constitutes a patriot is contingent upon the respondent.

The Original Patriots:
While the term “patriot” finds its roots in ancient Greece, its primary significance in American history refers to individuals who possess a profound love for their country. The original patriots emerged during the American Revolution, often associated with iconic figures such as Sam Adams and Benjamin Franklin. However, patriots can also include enslaved individuals who fought for abolition or members of native communities striving to reclaim or maintain their sovereignty. Nathaniel Sheidley, President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces in Boston, highlights that these marginalized groups actively participated in the American Revolution, advocating for their voices to be heard in the political process. Sheidley emphasizes that the hallmark of patriotism during that era was characterized by self-sacrifice and a deep concern for one’s neighbors and community members.

The Shifting Definitions of Patriotism:
Historians argue that patriotism has always coexisted with civic and ethnic nationalism, thereby presenting varying interpretations of the concept. Matthew Delmont, a historian at Dartmouth, asserts that patriotism’s definition hinges on the individual describing themselves as patriotic and their particular vision or version of the country. This is evident in the example of Black military members who fought in World War II and subsequently advocated for civil rights upon their return. They perceived themselves as patriots, driven by a commitment to transform America and secure genuine freedom and democracy within the nation. Delmont adds that many white Americans, considering themselves patriotic, often regard other white Americans as the true embodiment of the term.

The Evolution of the Definition:
Since the early 20th century, far-right and extremist groups have adopted American symbols and the label “patriot” for their own purposes. Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, notes that these groups have utilized the term as a branding tool, capitalizing on the positive associations Americans have with patriotism. While these groups may selectively interpret and defend certain parts of the Constitution, they effectively align themselves with the concept of patriotism. Gaines Foster, a historian at Louisiana State University, contends that patriotism was once synonymous with civic nationalism, encapsulating beliefs in democracy, equality, and opportunity—a unifying and inclusive vision of the country. However, recent years have witnessed a shift in this perception, exemplified by the violent January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Foster asserts that individuals increasingly lean toward the notion of the “right of revolt” proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, perceiving it as an act of patriotism.

The Link Between Patriotism and Conspiracy Theories:
Within the context of schools, patriotism has become a contentious issue. In Idaho, Governor Brad Little and Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield announced the acquisition of a new “patriotic” supplemental history curriculum for public schools. The aim is to provide a factual understanding of American history from a patriotic standpoint, according to Little. However, critics argue that labeling one curriculum as “patriotic” implies that others currently in use are not. Democratic state Representative Chris Mathias emphasizes the importance of teaching both the positive and negative aspects of history, fostering an environment that encourages dialogue without shame or exclusion.

Conclusion:
The definition of patriotism in the United States is subject to diverse interpretations, reflecting the country’s deep polarization. While the original patriots of the American Revolution exhibited a sense of self-sacrifice and care for their communities, contemporary understandings of patriotism are influenced by political affiliations, ethnic nationalism, and even extremist ideologies. As the concept evolves, it is essential to engage in open and respectful discussions to bridge the divides and foster a shared understanding of what it means to be a patriot in a diverse and complex nation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about patriotism

What is the main topic of this text?

The main topic of this text is the evolving definition of patriotism in the United States, influenced by politics, history, and conflicting ideologies.

Who are some of the original patriots mentioned in the text?

The text mentions figures such as Sam Adams and Benjamin Franklin as original patriots associated with the American Revolution. It also acknowledges the contributions of enslaved individuals fighting for abolition and members of native communities striving for sovereignty.

How has the definition of patriotism evolved over time?

Historians suggest that the definition of patriotism has always been influenced by civic and ethnic nationalism. It has varied depending on the perspective of the individual, their vision of the country, and the historical context. Over time, patriotism has been associated with opposition to the government, dissent, and the pursuit of civil rights.

How have extremist groups used the term “patriot”?

Far-right and extremist groups have adopted the term “patriot” as a branding tool since the early 20th century. By aligning themselves with American symbols and patriotic rhetoric, these groups have sought to tap into the positive associations Americans have with patriotism, despite their selective interpretations of constitutional principles.

What controversies surround patriotism in schools?

The text highlights the controversy surrounding the teaching of patriotism in schools. Some argue for a “patriotic” curriculum that emphasizes a positive view of American history, while others stress the importance of teaching both the positive and negative aspects of history without shaming or excluding certain perspectives.

How does the text address the polarization of the United States?

The text acknowledges the deep polarization in the United States and how it affects the definition of patriotism. Different political affiliations, ethnic nationalisms, and extremist ideologies contribute to divergent understandings of what it means to be a patriot. The text emphasizes the need for open and respectful dialogue to bridge these divides and foster a shared understanding.

More about patriotism

You may also like

8 comments

USAlover1776 July 4, 2023 - 7:57 am

finally, someone gets it! i’m tired of all the haters who think they know what patriotism is. we need to teach our kids to luv this country, no matter what. those who don’t agree are just trying to rewrite history. proud to be a patriot!

Reply
Reader85 July 4, 2023 - 3:16 pm

this is a gud article. i lerned a lot about patriotizm n how it has changd ovr time. its crazy how sum ppl use the word patriot in a difrnt way, like those extremist groups. we shud all try to undrstand each othrs perspektives.

Reply
HistoryBuff23 July 4, 2023 - 4:39 pm

thx 4 the links! gonna do sum more readin on this topic. i find it fascinatin how patriotism has evolved n how it can mean difrnt things to difrnt ppl. our history has so many layers n perspectives, it’s important to explore them all.

Reply
CuriousMind99 July 4, 2023 - 7:01 pm

i never realized how complicated patriotism could be. it’s interesting how it’s tied to politics, ideologies, n even conspiracy theories. i think we need more open discussions to bridge the gap n find common ground. unity is what we need right now.

Reply
Reader85 July 6, 2023 - 11:09 pm

this is a gud article. i lerned a lot about patriotizm n how it has changd ovr time. its crazy how sum ppl use the word patriot in a difrnt way, like those extremist groups. we shud all try to undrstand each othrs perspektives.

Reply
CuriousMind99 July 7, 2023 - 2:53 am

i never realized how complicated patriotism could be. it’s interesting how it’s tied to politics, ideologies, n even conspiracy theories. i think we need more open discussions to bridge the gap n find common ground. unity is what we need right now.

Reply
HistoryBuff23 July 7, 2023 - 4:07 am

thx 4 the links! gonna do sum more readin on this topic. i find it fascinatin how patriotism has evolved n how it can mean difrnt things to difrnt ppl. our history has so many layers n perspectives, it’s important to explore them all.

Reply
USAlover1776 July 7, 2023 - 5:52 am

finally, someone gets it! i’m tired of all the haters who think they know what patriotism is. we need to teach our kids to luv this country, no matter what. those who don’t agree are just trying to rewrite history. proud to be a patriot!

Reply

Leave a Comment

logo-site-white

BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News

en_USEnglish