“Our youth will be taught to love America,” Thoughts on Trump’s Call for “Patriotic Education”

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Liberty Nguyen, Staff Writer

Recently, President Donald Trump announced that he will  enforce a new “pro-American” curriculum in schools and universities nationwide. His statement is in reaction to educational narratives that he described as “decades of left-wing indoctrination” that “defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods, and lies.”

The president singled out the 1619 Project, a project developed by the New York Times that aims to place systemic racism and the contribution of black Americans at the very center of the U.S.’ national narrative. Trump heavily denounced the project, stating that the project teaches students that America was “founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom” and said such an idea could not be farther from the truth. 

Furthermore, Trump condemned the implementation of critical race theory (CRT) in universities. CRT is defined as a “view that the law and legal institutions are inherently racist and that race … is a socially constructed concept that is used by white people to further their economic and political interests at the expense of people of colour.” Trump criticized such notions and described it as propaganda that “[tries] to make students ashamed of their own history.”

Trump called his national commission to promote patriotic education the 1776 Commission. He declared, “Our youth will be taught to love America.” 

In truth, the history that was taught to me in social studies classes was extremely limited and whitewashed. I can count on one hand the number of important POC (Person of Color)  figures that I actually learned about in school. This is a result of an American history centered around white people and their achievements. 

Learning about the history of marginalized groups in America was to be done outside of class. Topics such as Jim Crow laws, the Trail of Tears, and Japanese internment camps were merely mentioned and brushed over. The history of the LGBT community was never even acknowledged although their fight to gain civil rights was one of the most monumental movements in U.S. history. 

Personally, I’m an advocate for a politically neutral approach to American education. To address only the admirable pieces of our history while refusing to teach the deplorable parts not only emphasizes an unhealthy nationalism, but borders the line of fascism. 

Yes, America was founded on the ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and the notion of natural rights for all individuals, but we cannot ignore that these rights were permitted to only white men. We cannot ignore that while our founding fathers were drafting and writing the Constitution, black people were being treated as property and labor. 

To truly learn history is to do so with an open mind and without bias. It seems as if a “patriotic education” based on the principles of nationalism is not only largely dystopian, but buries the oppressive foundations of our country while glorifying the history of only one group of people. 

It is a shame to see that teaching oppression and its effects is seen as “left-wing indoctrination,” as the oppression of any group should never be addressed as just politics. It’s real and it happened; there is nothing political or opinionated about it. 

Education is undoubtedly one of the most significant foundations of a society. When education is treated as a means to enforce nationalism rather than open-minded learning, it ignores the dark history that is essential to understand modern-day issues concerning society and its people. 

Without proper education, we cannot understand. Without understanding, we cannot empathize. And without empathy, a divided people we will remain.