Patriotism Returns to The Farm

Patriotism Returns to The Farm

A few weeks ago, Kappa Sigma hosted its annual Dunch party, a combination of cold beer, the warm California sun, and a foam machine—all the ideal ingredients for a good time. One moment from the revelries, however, managed to achieve national virality on social media: drunken party goers singing (yelling might be a better descriptor) the national anthem at the top of their lungs. 

Former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy commented, “It’s good to see young people starting to rebel again.” Finance meme account Litquidity proclaimed that “We are so back.” Many commentators were surprised to see such patriotic sentiment at Stanford, far removed from schools in Texas or Georgia where I presume such behavior is commonplace. Indeed, patriotism at Stanford is present but more subdued. 

Dunch’s display of patriotism amongst peers brought to mind an often-ignored truth about such sentiments: Americans are broadly proud of their country, or at the very least would like to be. Gallup reports that 67 percent of U.S. adults are “very” or “extremely” proud of being an American. Yet the political right and left do little to cater to this sentiment; both are, in their own distinct ways, un-American. 

The political right has taken aim at American institutions of all forms. Closest to home are its attacks on elite universities, calling to tear them down rather than work toward reform. Novel technologies such as lab-grown meat are being banned in states such as Florida and Alabama, punishing American companies and hampering this nation’s ingenuity. Immigration, historically praised on both sides of the aisle as vital to the American project’s continued success, is now vilified. The right espouses a cynical form of un-Americanism in which institutional rot runs so deep that our nation’s institutions must be torn down rather than rehabilitated. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the left takes issue with the very concept of America itself. Choosing to denounce our nation on the basis of its historical misgivings, progressives see America as a force for evil in the world, forgetting the many instances in which it has been the opposite. As recently as former President Obama’s 2008 campaign, patriotism was present within the left; the now iconic “Hope” poster was an implicit endorsement of patriotism and the belief that, despite its problems, America could improve. The current iteration of the left has completely lost this patriotism, protesting not to better this nation, but rather, to malign it. 

At Stanford, the resurgence of patriotism speaks to a sentiment shared by most Americans: that to be proud of one’s nation is no crime. Unlike a few years ago, when Sigma Chi was asked to take down the American flag in front of its house, patriotism seems to be alive and well on The Farm. 

Such patriotism is not a blanket embrace of the American government or fanatical jingoism, but a belief that the nation, despite its many mistakes both now and in the past, is worth preserving and nurturing. This affection stands in stark contrast to the pessimism found on the furthest ends of the political spectrum, which alienates the majority of Americans who truly love their country. 

As we approach the United States’ 250th birthday two years from now, we should take the time to reflect on what it means to be an American, and why all of us, despite our different political affiliations, should take pride in our country.

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