Gallup polling has announced that “Extreme Patriotism” is in irrefutable, perhaps irreversible decline.
As Independence Day approaches, most in the U.S. say they are proud to be an American, including a slight majority, 54%, who are “extremely proud.” The percentage saying they are “extremely proud” is slightly lower than in recent years and down from peaks at and around 70% between 2002 and 2004, after 9/11.
Is there not something odd and suspicious about people publicly saying that they are “extremely proud” to American? Is this not like the stereotype of a Communist who not only joins the Party but overpays his dues and informs on his neighbors? Does not Extreme Patriotism indicate a hidden doubt . . . a state of denial . . . or a state of fear?
Putting that aside, there is no partisan political message to the data. Extreme Patriotism had a bump after the 9/11 terror attacks and during the invasion of Iraq and George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. This was the “Age of the Flag Pin,” color-coded “terror threat” alerts on Fox News, and the rest. Some 15 percent of the public became alienated with Extreme Patriotism during Bush’s second term, and haven’t returned it.
Also, many Extreme Patriots have probably died.
Older Americans, Southerners and Republicans Lead in “Extreme Pride”
While most Americans are proud to be an American, certain groups are especially likely to say they are extremely proud. “Extreme pride” rises for each succeeding age group, from a low of 43% among those under 30 to a high of 64% among senior citizens. Extreme pride also varies regionally, from a high of 61% in the South to a low of 46% in the West. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans say they are extremely proud to be an American, much higher than the 47% of Democrats who say the same. As usual, independents are in the middle, at 53%.
In other words, the American cultural, media, and political establishment is seeking to dispossess the people who most fervently believe in its legitimacy. Perhaps some Extreme Patriots express their loyalty because they are being dispossessed, much like an abused child might desperately try to please his parents.
One other aspect that shouldn’t go unnoticed is the connection between Extreme Patriotism and religion. Looking at Gallup polling on religion, 56 percent of the public say that “religion is very important” and that “religion can answer all or most of today’s problems.” My guess is that the same 56 percent who are most Christian are those who identify as Extreme Patriots. In a way, Extreme Patriotism is a form of dissent against what is wrongly conceived as a counter culture. Another historical irony is that Christianity, despite its “other worldly” qualities, functions as a state religion.
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.