Think Poor Self-Image Is Bad? Try Poor National Image

By | April 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

People may remain in abusive relationships or low-paying jobs because they believe they don’t deserve any better. 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 struggle against terrorists, and specifically in our war in Afghanistan.
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. I took ROTC in high school, where our instructors were master sergeants with combat decorations.
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. Why do we advertise ourselves so negatively to the world?
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. This film is being released just as a military confrontation with North Korea is brewing. How many people will see it – in America and in other nations – and conclude that the crisis is 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. Europe under the Nazis? Asia under the Japanese militarists? To him, 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 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?
Reinforcing this negative outlook are pessimistic comments by liberal politicians and media. For example, the Los Angeles Times, without missing a beat, suddenly switched from “The Iraq troop surge isn’t working, so let’s leave” to “The troop surge has worked, so let’s leave.” Granted, Democrats are loath to credit success to Republicans. But I believe the pathology is deeper. I believe leftists feel we don’t deserve to win, so even a partial victory makes them anxious.
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 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.
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