US President Donald Trump delivered a speech on Constitution Day at the National Archives in Washington DC and introduced the creation of Patriotic Education.
During his speech, Trump condemned the current state of teaching history in schools.
Also, he talked about the destruction of American history.
“We want our sons and daughters to know they are citizens of “ the best nation in the“history of the world,” said Trump.
According to him, “decades of left-wing indoctrination” in schools have destroyed and “desecrated” the memories of America’s founders.
For example, schools force the teaching of “critical race theory” in schools, teaching students to hate America, he said.
Trump also claims in his speech that teaching children that America’s founding is based on oppression and not freedom corrupted America’s history.
Those factors divide Americans and “impose new segregation,” he said.
What is Patriotic Education and the 1776 Commission?
Patriotism, in its most basic sense, is citizens’ pride, devotion, and love for one’s country.
Patriotic Education, on the other hand, is the answer to America’s division, said Trump.
It is “the only path to national unity,” he added.
According to Trump’s Constitution Day speech, he “will soon sign an Executive Order” to establish “a national commission” promoting “patriotic education.”
The Commission will be called the “1776 Commission,” Trump said.
It will focus on educating children about “the miracle of American History” and “love America,” he added.
Contrary to some critics, the new commission will not impose a national curriculum for schools, per the Independent Women’s Forum.
The reason is that the federal government does not have jurisdiction on the school curriculum.
Aside from Trump’s speech, there are not enough details on the proposed curriculum yet.
Patriotic Education is Not New
Patriotic education is not a new concept, especially for autocrats or leaders who want disciplined and loyal citizens.
China has been doing it post-Tiananmen protests, and Japan has also been incorporating them in schools.
After the Tiananmen Square Protests in the 80s, China went on to launch a national patriotic education campaign.
The new kind of education aims to instill loyalty and pride in China’s leaders and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Patriotic education starts with children where kids and toddlers swear allegiance to the CCP.
A Chinese Netizen said last year that the CCP’s education incites children “to be against Japan, America, and even the entire West,” per Bitter Winter.
Another initial premise of Patriotic Education is to encapsulate international entities as a threat to the domestic well-being of people.
For example, in Hong Kong, Beijing accuses pro-democracy activists of conspiring with foreign forces to destroy Hong Kong and China.
In another case, the Uyghur Muslims’ culture is slowly being erased through re-education camps to assimilate them into Chinese culture.
In Japan, under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, students memorize “the Imperial Rescript” in 1890.
According to the Diplomat, it helped unify a scattered Japan during the Meiji era.
However, during the 2nd world war, the Imperial Japanese leaders adopted it to mobilize soldiers and encourage militarism.
In 2001, a patriotic history book, Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho became a hit, and later on, helped in sanitizing Japan’s history, per the Diplomat.
For example, current textbooks in Japan omit stories about forcing women to become comfort women in war or even the Nanjing Massacre.
Effects of Patriotic Education and Sanitizing History
The omissions silenced Japan’s war atrocities, which is one of the factors in Japan’s conflict with its neighboring countries like China and Korea.
The sanitizing also resulted in some Japanese denying the atrocities of their ancestors, and in effect, erasing other nations’ stories.
Both countries’ efforts to instill nationalism have things in common, to instill discipline, unity, and unwavering loyalty to an individual’s own country.
However, it can also create a very unbiased and blind following, erasing other groups’ experiences.
Is Patriotic Education for America?
Patriotic education is what made Japan go to war during the 2nd world war.
It also erased other nation’s history to elevate its own.
However, it is also what makes people work hard for the good of their country, and made Japan one of the richest countries in Asia.
In China, patriotic education is what made people work hard for the country, and made China an economic power.
However, the same patriotic education is now erasing the Uyghur Muslim culture in the country.
Also, it oppresses Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists.
Will a patriotic education solve the current issues America is facing right now?
It depends on whose story is being elevated, and for whose development it is.
America is currently experiencing a big division among its people, and thus unity is crucial.
However, US society is much more complex.
For example, its citizens comprise different races and stories.
To unite a currently divided nation, promoting only one story and glorifying it is not the best way to go.
Omitting the bad to elevate the good will always result in elevating some groups of people while erasing and further alienating the majority from other groups’ stories and struggles.