Low Self-Esteem Is Bad ‒ What about Low National Esteem?

By | May 31, 2018 | 0 Comments

People may remain in abusive relationships or low-paying jobs because they believe they don’t deserve any better. Often they were abused as children ‒ sexually, physically, or emotionally. Their poor self-image affects their choice of partner or career. I believe that similar mechanisms are at work in politics. A poor image of their nation leads people to believe that America does not deserve to prevail in our war against terrorists.

I went to school decades ago. I was taught to salute our flag every morning. I was taught American history and civics, not “social studies.” I was taught about the great men of our past. I was taught how Grant led the Union Army to victory, thereby ending slavery. So when I see his deeply lined face on the fifty-dollar bill, I empathize with his pain. You see, I took ROTC in high school, where our instructors were master sergeants with combat decorations. One had a Purple Heart. From him I learned to empathize with the pain that service members endured.

I was taught that I was the bearer of a proud tradition. I felt that I had been handed a baton, and the next lap in the relay race was up to me. I was given a positive image of my country, and therefore of myself, despite my teenage problems.

Now things are different. Starting in primary school, children are taught that Americans are destroying the environment and plundering the planet. They are taught that Americans are imperialist, militarist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and whatever new epithets may be added by the latest edition of the leftist textbooks they are assigned. They are taught that our flag represents all these evils.

The media eagerly join this negativity parade. I used to keep a list of movies that show our military as murderers (“In the Valley of Elah”), rapists (“The General’s Daughter”), and lunatics (“The Hunted”) – and our intelligence agents as homicidal schemers (the “Bourne” series). But there are so many films that I lost track.

These films are also seen by foreign audiences. If a company’s ads showed its products as defective and its employees as criminals, it would soon go broke. Why do we advertise our nation so negatively to the world? How much anti-American reaction, or even terrorism, does this incite?

Even pro-American films like “Olympus Has Fallen” are ambivalent. The chief North Korean terrorist blames America, not his own tyrannical government, for his nation’s extreme poverty – but no one challenges his absurd claim. How many people saw it – in America and in other nations – and concluded that problems with North Korea are our fault?

It is ironic that the same leftist educators who push the “self-esteem” movement also remove sources of genuine self-esteem. They tell kids that they should have high self-esteem, but just for existing. Winning and losing teams both get trophies. But kids are never told that they are members of a special group – Americans. Kids are never told that they are proud bearers of Judeo-Christian values. So they may become narcissists, but they are unaware of anything specific to be proud of – certainly not their homeland. Narcissism is entirely different from genuine self-respect.

Howard Zinn, the late author of a widely used textbook of American history, went so far as to claim that America has done more bad than good in the world. (I heard him say it.) Europe under the Nazis? Asia under the Japanese militarists? More than half of the recent Nobel Prize advances in medicine not made? To Zinn, anything would be better than a strong America.

But how many teachers assign William Bennett’s “America, the Last Best Hope” or Schweikart and Allen’s “A Patriot’s History of the United States”? Are you joking? They are superb history texts, but they are not anti-American – so they don’t fit with the leftist agenda of most high schools and universities.

What do we expect will result from this dysfunctional education? That’s right, dysfunctional graduates. People who were abused or neglected as children may believe they deserve abusive partners or substandard jobs. Similarly, people who were taught as children that they belong to an evil and destructive group may believe that their nation deserves to be defeated by its enemies. What else would they believe? Why would they think that their civilization is worthy to survive, when it was described to them so negatively?

Leftists depict America as rotten in order to justify their radical programs. A thoroughly bad country requires a radical remake – in Obama’s words, a fundamental transformation. That is, we need to install the bloated, intrusive, overbearing government that leftists idolize. But teaching students that they are part of a rotten system produces life-altering effects. This is similar to telling young people that their father was a low-life criminal. How could this not affect their whole lives for the worse?

I believe that an anti-American, leftist, radical-environmentalist education is a form of emotional child abuse. I believe it contributes to a poor self-image, as well as to a low opinion of our nation. If you tell children they are selfish despoilers of the Earth, some will grow up to be unselfish environmentalists – but most will become the self-centered, greedy people they were told they are. If you tell children their nation is a force for evil in the world, some will grow up to be altruists – but most will become the cynical, rootless people they were told they are. Low expectations produce poor results.

An old proverb states that as the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined. We had better stop bending our twigs so far to the left, or we will find that our national tree falls over with a loud crash when it is subjected to a strong wind.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

www.stolinsky.com

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