[It’s been two and a half years since my book on the contested history of American patriotism was published, and let’s just say it doesn’t feel less relevant at the moment. So for this year’s July 4th series, I wanted to highlight a handful of places and ways I’ve been thinking about the book and patriotism here in 2023. Leading up to a request for any and all further such opportunities to share the project!]
In my main
book talk for Of Thee I Sing, I start
with two January 2021 events that together reflect the contemporary relevance
of debates over American patriotism. One is obvious, and was the subject of
Evening Post Considering History column
inspired by the book’s ideas as well as the one-year anniversary of that
insurrection. But I would argue that another January 2021 event foreshadowed
just as fully what has happened over the two and a half years since: the
release (on MLK Day, no freaking less) of the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission report.
I’m sure there had been other right-wing voices calling for a return to
“patriotic education” before that
document made its vision of that concept a centerpiece; but it’s far from
coincidental that the 2.5 years since the report have been dominated by state
laws and other efforts to reshape American education (or rather, attack
American education) under the aegis of that “patriotic education” frame.
One of the main ideas of my own project is that for far too long and much too
fully we have ceded definitions of American patriotism over to the particular
version that I call mythic
patriotism, the propagandistic, exclusionary, often overtly white
supremacist form that is clearly driving these extremist educational efforts. To
challenge them, we have to be aware of the long histories of both this
particular vision and of debates and alternatives—so, as I’ll say again this
week, let’s keep talking about them!
request this weekend,
do you think? Ideas for places/ways I could share Of Thee I Sing?