Most Woodrow Wilson High football players in Camden, N.J., knelt during the national anthem last Saturday. Photo:Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press
High school football players across the country are refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice. Rejecting the rituals of patriotism is a mistake, writes New York Times columnist David Brooks.
The idea of America is that we’re supposed to “create a good and just society,” he writes. And that we’re always “screwing it up.”
“This fusion of radical hope and radical self-criticism” is America’s “civic religion,” he writes. It’s “fired a fervent desire for change.”
When we sing the national anthem, we’re not commenting on the state of America. . . . We’re expressing commitment to the nation’s ideals, which we have not yet fulfilled. If we don’t transmit that creed through shared displays of reverence we will have lost the idea system that has always motivated reform. We will lose the sense that we’re all in this together. We’ll lose the sense of shared loyalty to ideas bigger and more transcendent than our own short lives. If these common rituals are insulted, other people won’t be motivated to right your injustices because they’ll be less likely to feel that you are part of their story.
In short, it’s “we the people” or every man, woman and being for him-, her- or zir- self.
At many schools, “a globalist mentality teaches students they are citizens of the world rather than citizens of America,” Brooks complains. “The multiculturalist mind-set values racial, gender and ethnic identities and regards national identities as reactionary and exclusive.”
Since the post-911 peak in patriotism, Americans are less likely to say they’re “extremely proud” of their country, reports Gallup. The decline is sharpest for those 18 to 29 years old. However, only 1 percent say they’re not proud at all.