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Our “New” National Anthem — God Bless America


The terrorist attacks on 9/11 deeply wounded the psyche of Christian nationalists. Thinking that the United States had favored nation status with God, these white, middle-class, Republican, Evangelical Christians thought that our country was invincible. The Christian nation myth is so deeply embedded in our culture that it is almost impossible to get Evangelicals to see and understand the facts of the matter — that the United States is a schoolyard bully that uses violence and extortion to advance its globalist agenda. No, no, no, the United States is a Christian nation, says Evangelicals. We are a good, kind, and loving people who want what’s best for the worldBest being, of course, Christianity and capitalism. From its earliest days, United States has used violence to conquer all those who oppose her. One need only to look to the Middle East to see that the United States still thinks that bombs and bullets are the best way to settle any conflict. Even more troubling is the fact that millions of Americans plan on voting for a man who not only embraces the use of violence but wants to expand its use, going so far as to suggest that the United States needs to drop nuclear bombs on its enemies

These violence-loving Christians — thinking that the United States is some sort of global dispenser of God’s justice — are increasingly incensed over what they perceive to be a lack of fealty to their version of the Christian God. Ignoring the fact that the United States is a secular state, flag-waving Evangelicals demand that their God and their religion be given preferential treatment. Any pushback from atheists, humanists, secularists, or Christians who support the separation of church and state is viewed as persecution. Pretty soon the Christmas season will be upon us, and social media, along with Faux News, will be filled with stories about the “war on Christmas.” Businesses that don’t have their employees say Merry Christmas to their customers are viewed as anti-Christian. The same story is played out over and over throughout the year as Evangelicals whine, scream, and complain about the supposed secularist takeover of America. Again, facts don’t matter. Christians feel threatened by the restoration of the proper place of the separation of church and state in our government institutions, and instead of realizing that Christianity actually benefits from this, Evangelicals attempt to force God on people through public displays of Christian power. One such display is the singing of God Bless America at sporting events.

Last Friday, I attended the Wayne Trace-Tinora high school football game. A few minutes before game time, Wayne Trace’s marching band came on the field to play what I thought would be the Star-Spangled Banner. Imagine my surprise when they played, not the national anthem, but God Bless America. Fans on both sides of the field stood, removed their hats, and placed their hands over the hearts as the band played America’s new national anthem. I, for one, did not stand, nor did I take my hat off or put my hand over my heart. I find such displays of Christian nationalism to be offensive and I refuse to give my tacit support to anything that promotes the America-is-a-Christian-Nation myth.

After the playing of God Bless America, the band played the Star-Spangled Banner. At that moment, I stood, removed my hat, placed my hand over my heart, and quietly mouthed the words to the national anthem. While I’m not a big fan of singing the national anthem at sporting events, I recognize doing so is an attempt to express the common patriotic bond Americans have with one another. Personally, I wish they’d stop singing the national anthem, especially since in recent years its singing has often been used to advance militarism and display American military prowess. How else can we explain the use of military personnel to unfurl the flag or the Air Force jet flyovers as the anthem is being sung?

Several years ago, I attended a Sunday service at a Lutheran Church outside of Newark Ohio. As part of its worship service — I kid you not —  the pastor led the congregation in singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I thought, at the time, how ironic to see this in a Lutheran Church. Seventy-five years ago, such displays of Christian nationalism were common in Hitler’s Germany. Both the Lutheran and Catholic churches played a significant part in Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. It is not beyond the pale of human imagination to see the same thing happening in the United States if Donald Trump is elected president. Like Hitler, Trump is not a Christian, but he is smart enough to see that Christian nationalism can be used to advance his political agenda. Evangelicals in particular have been manipulated and used by the Republican Party for the past 40 years. And once again, in 2016, they are being used to advance a pernicious agenda that could lead to World War III. And what will these God-fearing, flag-waving Christians do when war comes to the shores of the United States? Why, they will wave their flags, sing God Bless America, and with great pride pledge their allegiance to America’s Christian God.



  1. Avatar
    Lynn 123

    Do other countries play their national anthems at games? I don’t know. I think our country has a lot to be proud of. Aren’t the English and the Japanese and the Canadians and the Argentinians, etc. proud of their country and culture? Don’t Mexicans love Mexico? I guess it just makes me feel sad that as Americans we’re supposed to feel ashamed and embarrassed that we’re Americans? I’m a born critic, and of course there’s always something to criticize the government or Christianity, etc. for. I’m just thinking this through. I mean, even if you’re North Korean or some place run by a dictator, aren’t you still proud of the good things and don’t you still want to respect and treasure the good things about your country?

    Also, what would replace our national anthem or songs about our country that many love simply because they grew up with these songs? Why do all other cultures get to be proud without guilt but Americans don’t get to do that? I mean, what about Russia? There must be Russians that aren’t thrilled with Putin and his government, but they’re still very proud to be Russians? Venezuelans-we’re forever hearing about how messed up their government is-but I suspect they’re proud to be who they are anyway.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that you love your country, Bruce. My question is what would replace all that is made to be so awful now? What would replace Christianity as the most influential and biggest religion in our country? Sure, much of it’s nonsense, but much of it does a lot of good also. What is to hold us together as a people? What will we have in common in the end?

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      In Australia we only play the anthem before professional games or sometimes grand finals of some sports if we really have too. But only the first verse, no one knows the rest or really cares the first gets the point across.

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      Greetings Lynn 123, In Canada we do play national anthems before games and I like that because it puts the national anthem (for me at least) on the same level as the sport. In America, in USA, your patriotism is driven into you from the beginning of your lives, not like North Korea of course but still the same nonsense. You have nothing to be proud of in much of your history and your warring nation is now the most dangerous on earth. I am not your enemy but the big dumb bro to the north who is to a significant degree controlled and directed by your way of life there.
      You ask what might replace nationalism and religion in your country and my answer would be, Can there be anything worse than blind nationalism and constant war? Can the lack of religion actually do more damage than religioh has accomplished through the ages?
      I no longer believe in the woo-woo magic of incantations of scripture and I have long ago put my Canadian national anthem in the place it belongs, at sports events and among politicians.
      In the end, we will have our humanity in common and very likely our lack of it too, somewhat in the same fashion as it has always been. I for one would be satisfied with a little improvement here and there, nothing revolutionary and involving drones.

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      Here in Europe (Netherlands), we do play the national anthem for major sports games as well as national rememberance day or royal ceremonies.

      However, in general, too much patriotism is frowned upon. This goes back to World War II where extreme nationalism caused so much misery. Because of that, patriotism is a bit suspect, unless it is about sports which is seen as non-political. Patriotism mixed with politics too quicky harkens back to the past and generally causes outrage, though there will always be supporters as well. The role of nationalism in various wars and the exclusion of groups of people because of nationalism has made peope a bit weary of it.

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        Lynn 123

        Thanks for the info. I think it’s pretty cool to get comments from those in other countries just by me commenting. I’m not rah, rah, rah for the flag 24/7, but my point was just that I think it’s natural to love your own country and to be proud of what your country has given to the world. Does loving your own country and people similar to you mean that you hate everybody else? Of course not. America is a melting pot and I love learning about other cultures. I’m learning Spanish right now.

        Speaking of the Netherlands, I think ya’ll ride bikes way more than we do. That appeals to me, cause I love to ride my bike. I watched a video of bike-riders in your country, in regular clothes, looked wonderful. Here, people wear bike helmets, bike shirts and shorts and pray they don’t get run over by cars.

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          We do all ride bikes over here 🙂 and have special bike lanes for them making it safer at some places. However a lot of teens listen music or use their smartphone while riding their bike so they do end up in accidents sometimes. But generally it is safe enough. The helmets are only used by people who are extra careful or people who use race bikes who also travel at a much higher speed.

          I think many people are proud to be Dutch but to say so when it isn’t about soccer, does sound a little off to many people. In European history, it sometimes has been a relatively small step from being proud of your nationality to imagining oneself also as being superior because of that nationality.

          So it’s easier to say that we’re proud of our football team, proud of something that is Dutch, rather than of being Duch, I guess. It’s not such a huge difference but it sounds just a little different. So perhaps being proud of what we have and have achieved, rather than for who we are identity-wise as a people or nationality.

          Which funnily enough brings me on something related to this. A few years ago, when our queen was still our princess (originally from Argentina), she said that the Dutch identity as such did not exist, or was, at least, difficult to pin-point (which is probably somewhat true ). The whole country got mad at her! So it’s a bit difficult that 😉 She was basically echoeing information she had heard about Dutch culture and so on, but something like that coming from a foreigner, was not well received. I think she even apologized for it.

          Long story short: we’re plenty proud of our country but generally don’t see ourselves as somehow all that different from people in other countries. We’re proud of traditions or things we do and make, but not that focussed on being Dutch as an identity. Part of it also that we are proud to be individuals, all going our own way, etc. etc. so the quintessential Dutchman doesn’t really exist so much.

          I hope I explained that well; it’s a bit difficult to explain to be honest.

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            Lynn 123

            Thanks for the info, Melody. I’d love to go to Europe sometime. I didn’t realize ya’ll had a queen. How cool is that? I don’t understand how your princess was from Argentina, but then it always confused me when I’d read that England’s king was German.

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            @Lynn 123

            We’ve got something called a constitutional monarchy. It basically means that the king and queen don’t have that much power, but do play a large role in representing the country in various ways. We have a parlement and prime-minister for the political side of things, but the king does have an advising role in politics and meets weekly with the prime minister. Officially the king and queen are oblidged to have a neutral stance on politics and they do not get to vote, or make politically charged remarks. Every once in a while this does accidently happen, causing a small scandal.

            Our king is Dutch, his mother was queen before him, before that his grandmother. He is married to a woman that comes from Argentina, so she had to sort of integrate into our country, learn the language etc. Their kids know 3 languages as a consequence: Dutch from their dad, Spanish from their mother and English because it’s very useful.

            “but then it always confused me when I’d read that England’s king was German.”

            Apparently the Stuarts were Catholics and they wanted a Protestant King/Queen. So they went to a different line of succession bringing in the Germans. Anyway, I’m not entirely sure either 😉
            This link explains it a little:

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Since when what other countries do matter to Americans? Only our streets are paved with gold and only our shit doesn’t smell. If you want to be a “proud” American, that’s fine, but I refuse to be badgered or shamed into participating in nationalistic acts of worship. The fact that you have to say, I have no doubt whatsoever that you love your country, Bruce, leads me to think that you do doubt whether I do. While I am certainly glad to have been born in the United States, I don’t for a minute think America is heads and shoulders better than every other country. We have great wealth, yet some of our citizens are hungry and unemployed. We have great wealth, yet millions of Americans face bankruptcy due to medical bills. We have great wealth, yet most of that wealth is held by 1-3 percent of Americans. We have great wealth, yet millions of Americans are paid wages so low that they can’t adequately provide for their families.

      We have used our military might to rape, pillage, and destroy. We take what we want and kill those who object. We are the only nation to use nuclear weapons. We firebombed Germany and Japan. All told, in the 20th century, the United States killed millions of civilians, you know those our leaders call collateral damage. We continue to use more than our fair share of the world’s resources, while at the same time pretending that we are not primarily responsible for global warming. Now that we have 7/8ths of the economic pie, we arrogantly demand that emerging countries not take their fair share of the pie. We rail against China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran for their political, social, and economic excesses, all the while ignoring our own. We arrogantly think that American capitalism is the fix for, well, everything, when in fact it is destroying the world with its pursuit of market domination and obscene profits. We have a tax system that rewards the rich and punishes the working class.

      Shall I go on? Pray tell, exactly what should I find pride in as a American? The Cubs winning the World Series? Our political system is broken beyond repair and the true rulers of America live on Wall Street. We are no longer a democracy, nor are we are republic. We are now governed (controlled) by a plutocracy (or oligarchy). So, no, I am not proud to be an American. I am ashamed at what we’ve become. One need only look at the current presidential election to see how far we have fallen. That a pussy-grabbing, narcissistic psychopath can be a candidate for a major political party tells me that whatever America once was is dead.

      As far as Christianity is concerned….well, I will leave that rant for another day. I will say that I think you grossly overestimate the “good” Christianity does. You assume that the only reason religious people do good is because of their religion. How then, do you explain the fact that millions of non-religious people do good? From my seat in the pew, I think Evangelical/Conservative Christianity is a anchor weighing down and impeding human progress. Some expressions of religion are benign, but in America we have a particularly virulent, dangerous form of Christianity that craves power and control. I make no apologies for wanting this form of Christianity to die a swift death.

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    Lynn 123

    Hmm. Okay, well, thanks for the insults. I’ve only been to Canada once-when I was a kid, we went to Niagara Falls, a beautiful place. I’m hoping my children get to see it sometime. Actually one of my daughters may travel thru Canada to get to Alaska in a couple months.

    I’m glad you’re not my enemy, don’t consider you a “big, dumb bro to the north.” I don’t know about the USA controlling and directing Canada to a degree-would love to learn more about that. Re blind nationalism-I’m not recommending that-as I said, certainly much to criticize about the USA-but still the greatest country in the world-at least to Americans. Isn’t Canada to you? Constant war? Not for that. Re religion, I’m wondering if the lack of one religion simply creates a vacuum for another religion to take over? What do you think?

    Yes, we have our humanity in common, fellow travelers to the grave. Don’t know much about drones, so not sure what your last statement means. Anyway, I listened to your anthem and see if mentions God. If there is a god, don’t we all hope he favors our country? Muslim countries want Allah’s favor, don’t they? I guess I just see these things as cultural, not necessarily or likely real. Which province do you live in? I live in Delaware, second-smallest state.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      You may see them as “cultural”, yet your defense of them leads me to believe that they are more important to you than you are willing to admit. Would America be one bit worse off if we never sang the anthem or said the pledge of allegiance again? If these things are just cultural artifacts, why all the noise and anger over Colin Kapernick’s protest? If these things don’t matter, then why not remove God from the pledge and use the form used before 1956? You see, these things to matter to those whose identity is defined by their geographic location on a map.

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        Lynn 123

        Bruce, I’ve never thought of singing our national anthem as worshipping. I’ve never liked the word “worship” to begin with. But, I think it would be sad if we stopped singing the national anthem and stopped saying the pledge of allegiance. I rarely run into the pledge, but I do hear our anthem at ball games, and it makes me feel good. And proud. And in solidarity with my fellow Americans. A shared heritage. That’s why, as you, I dislike when some celebrity does their own weird rendition of it. It demeans it. I’d rather hear it done in the traditional way. It’s a moving song.

        I don’t have any feeling re Kapernick one way or the other. More power to him. His action doesn’t appeal to me personally, but I don’t see it as some awful sin.

        Okay, I guess part of my identity is defined by my geographical location on a map. Same for most other people. It usually gives us our religion also. What is wrong with that? What else would Saudi Arabians be but Muslims? Japanese are generally Buddhists, right? Indians are Hindu, etc. Americans are generally Christians. Israelis are generally Jewish. I don’t expect any of them to apologize for who they are, and I don’t think any of them have a perfect history.

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      Lynn 123, Hmmm, insults? I simply stated some facts I find are well-known the world over. If there was a God, then I don’t give a flying fuck who it favors because it is eternal scum. Things ‘cultural’ are often blind excuses for us-and-them.
      I live in B.C. on the foot of a big hill, a little mountain. I grew up in Ontario but have called B.C. home for the last decade. It saddens me that you feel insulted, Lynn 123. I had no intention of insulting you. America is one huge and very fucked up nation now; surely you agree with that observation and don’t need to have hurt feelings about it. I am not saying my team is better than yours, just that you are one messed up bunch now. Whether or not the Dems beat the Repubs in your election, you are in for a very bad time. You are going to create more wars and more terrorism than ever before because you are not able to stop it. Do you honestly disagree with my statement that yours is the most dangerous nation on earth now? I frightens me that I have to even further explain what I have stated and what you have heard as insult, of all things.

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        Lynn 123

        I think I’m out of my league here. You said Americans have nothing to be proud of in much of our history. And Bruce asks what he should find pride in as an American. If you both can’t come up with anything that impresses you, then I don’t think anything I’d list off the top of my head would impress you.

        To me, being proud of your own country is more of an inborn, natural thing. I don’t hear of other nations apologizing for who they are-instead they may acknowledge their failings, or not, but it just seems a basic, natural quality of humans to be proud of their own team. What could be more natural than nations, their individual cultures, their own language, the whole kaleidoscope of humanity with all its fascinating differences. Competition is also a natural thing. We root for one team over another. Does it mean we hate the others? Not for most people.

        Re the warring thing-I think Americans generally see ourselves as the good guys, whereas those we’re fighting obviously see us as the bad guys. You, observing from Canada, see us as the bad guys. I think Bruce mentioned WWII stuff-I always thot we saved the day in that period, but he disagrees. I did disagree with the Iraq War-I remember having a feeling at the time when it was being explained that in spite of 9/11, it just felt flimsy to go into Iraq specifically.

        I guess it boils down to-I’m an American, I’m proud of my country even if I disagree with some of what the government or corporations do, for sure. I think we’re good people overall. And, being from “The South”-if you’re familiar with that (I’m originally from North Carolina) and descended from English/Scots Irish-we’re big on politeness and avoid confrontation in social situations at all costs. (See “Very British Problems”) All that to say, maybe opinion blogs is not the place for me.

        But before I chicken out-I do honestly disagree that the USA is the most dangerous nation on earth. I agree our politics is very ugly right now and probably won’t get better. Don’t know how to fix that. Do you?

        Also, other cultures fascinate me. I’m eager to learn more about them and appreciate their good points while also appreciating my own culture. Some of my children have traveled a lot, and I’m jealous. I actually like liking people. I’m open. But I think national pride is part of our common humanity and is a good thing. I don’t want everybody to become the same. I want Germans to be Germans and proud of it; Syrians, Iraqis, the French, Russians, etc, etc, etc. also.

        I don’t know. There’s really no point to arguing because it’s extremely unlikely that anybody’s gonna change their thinking on any of this. I find it interesting to discuss until it makes me uncomfortable, then it’s no fun anymore. Anyway, thanks for the discussion.

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    Maybe they interpreted the Trump candidacy as America sneezing? Haaaaa-TRUMPPPHHH! (The obligatory response) ¡God Bless America!
    For all those critical of protesters kneeling instead of the traditional salute of the flag during the (real) anthem, I’d ask do they stand and do it at home? OF COURSE NOT! This shows you it is just a flourish to identify oneself with the collective.

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    Bruce Gerencser

    Watching the football game tonight reminded me of another irritation of mine–turning the singing of the National Anthem into a Grammy performance. Please…sing the song as written.

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    Thanks for sharing your view of things, Lynn 123. I don’t feel I have any solution for USA that is any different than what I would suggest for Canada or any other area. The answer is not democracy or socialism or Trump or Clinton. The answer is at home, especially when the door is closed to the outside world. The ‘answer’ is a daily direction we choose to go in our own lives and those of our loved ones. The answer is not pride in our country, our flag, our Gawd but in how we live with ourselves and one another, our fumbling and not-perfect humanity.
    Do we respect ourselves enough to not harm our own children by shaming, blaming, by imposing our biases, by hitting…? Do we allow our children to make choices for themselves and do we support them as they grow and learn rather than train-them-up, militarize them with our politics of aggression and our hateful sin preaching, our self-harm passed on through generations?
    It is ‘natural’ to pass on what we have experienced in our own lives, our own upbringing but natural is not always ideal. I lost my mom and dad to God. Bruce lost his mom to suicide. A dear friend of mine lost his mom by being born to her and rejected without any bonding in early life.
    How we treat our children and whether we are able to love them, makes or breaks the world beginning at home. Religion is a punitive parent who crushes innocence and rapes it. Nationalism paired with religion is a horror to me, a lynching of the human spirit in the service of a delusionary war. The enemy in this war is anybody handy, anybody at all. The new multi-national industry of Terrorism is what nationalism and religion have achieved, as I see it but those two realities are driven and defined by our personal and collective histories, our good luck and our abuse. When Americans express disdain for Islam, I just shake my head and realize I am out of my depth, as you say. All excess is a path to destruction. Moderation in all things. If we could just manage that bit. Sorry if I am sounding obtuse.

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    America has lots to be proud of. Namely a great film industry and American football! I can’t begin to imagine what life would be like without classic films, most of which are American made.

    In terms of things to be ashamed of, ignoring the obvious things like slavery, I must say your toilets leave a lot to be desired. They are not as comfortable or as well made as even public toilets in Europe. I find you sit too close to the water for my liking.

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    I’ll wade in with my view on how I see the UK take on the national anthem issue.

    Reading the comments so far I think it’s absolutely clear that we would identify most readily with Melody and her take on the Netherlands. Holland is very similar constitutionally to the UK, has a monarchy that is largely a figurehead, and shares many of our values (plus everyone in the Netherlands seems able to speak English!). I think there’s inevitably a divergence between Europe on these issues, and the relatively new nations of US, Australia, and to some extent Canada.

    The UK has been where the US presently finds itself, the most powerful nation on earth. We’ve had our empire, we’ve seen the slow development of civilisation, the unravelling of gross injustices, and can see the historical legacy of many wars fought over the centuries. Traditionally we’ve had a ‘proud to be British’ mantra that hasn’t, until fairly recently, been questioned.

    Now we have an understanding that the country in which we live is largely a matter of accident. Do I have pride at being British? Absolutely not. Nor am I ashamed at being British for exactly the same reason. On the other hand, I’d rather live in Spain because the weather is better there, but I’d still identify as British, because that’s what I am. Fact, without pride or shame.

    Many here are starting to exhibit jingoistic tendencies, especially since we voted to leave the EU (something I’m in the minority in saying I don’t think will happen). The irony is that these jingoists are precisely the reverse of what they claim; far from standing for the British ideal of inclusion, good neighbourliness, and generosity, they actually stand for everything we tried to throw off in two world wars. It’s not a pretty sight, but it’s reality and is one of the reasons I dislike national pride.

    As for the national anthem, it gets sung only at international games or when the queen is actually present; usually only the first verse, especially as later verses refer to killing the enemy, and other imperial sentiments. In addition to the national anthem we also have two other songs that are now adopted as alternative anthems; Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory, though Elgar himself detested the jingoistic, imperialistic words that were attached to his music.

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      “Holland is very similar constitutionally to the UK, has a monarchy that is largely a figurehead, and shares many of our values (plus everyone in the Netherlands seems able to speak English!).”

      English is an important part of our schooling, as is some German and French. Usually Dutch people tend to be better at English and German than French though.

      “Traditionally we’ve had a ‘proud to be British’ mantra that hasn’t, until fairly recently, been questioned.”

      This I recognize somewhat. Dutch people tend to be so good at languages because most of our wealth comes from trade. So it is also a necessary skill. This has been the case for centuries now. We have a huge airport, and important harbours. This is something to be proud of, however, historically there is national shame related to that as well. We build on the wealth of the past and that wealth was procured by slave-trade and colonialism. We’ve had a couple of colonies that provided us with many goods with a wealthy mother-country as a result.

      Post-colonialism plays a role of importance in our academia and that is also sometimes related in some newspapers and television shows. So there’s both pride and shame bound together. We don’t view our history as that glorious anymore, at least not as much as we used to, like we did say before the Second World War, but also take into account that there was a much darker side to those very prosperous days.

      That’s the best way I can explain it.

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    This apparent need for communal identity plays itself out in microcosm at school campuses everywhere. In this instance it takes the form of “school spirit” that creates division among cross-town rivals; fostering an us against them mentality. It produces the same sorts of divisions among nations and cultures in its related form of national pride. I really don’t have any grounds for rejecting this communal identity (and its related practices), since it appears that competition and conflict are significant motivators of human advancement.

    Take the cold war for example. The friction of national identities of the world’s two superpowers produced an arms and space race that rapidly advanced much technology from which we all benefit today. Also, imagine if space-faring was delayed by a few decades in the absence of the these divisions that spurred it on. Perhaps we don’t make it off the planet in time to escape imminent planetary destruction??

    Thus, I’m largely ambivalent to either promoting or denouncing displays of national identity. To me it is simply human nature and the pattern of our history.

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