Most of us, despite the outrage we may feel...still identify with our country. We take pride in being citizens of a self-invented, self-reforming, enduring constitutional democracy...Many of the exceptions to this rule are found in colleges and universities, in the academic departments that have become sanctuaries for left-wing political views...
...But there is a problem with this left: it is unpatriotic. In the name of "the politics of difference," it refuses to rejoice in the country it inhabits. It repudiates the idea of a national identity, and the emotion of national pride. This repudiation is the difference between traditional American pluralism and the new movement called multiculturalism...Academic leftists who are enthusiastic about multiculturalism distrust the recent proposal by Sheldon Hackney, chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities, to hold televised town meetings to "explore the meaning of American identity." Criticizing Mr. Hackney on this page on Jan. 30, Richard Sennett, a distinguished social critic, wrote that the idea of such an identity is just "the gentlemanly face of nationalism," and speaks of "the evil of a shared national identity."
...a nation cannot reform itself unless it takes pride in itself -- unless it has an identity, rejoices in it, reflects upon it and tries to live up to it. Such pride sometimes takes the form of arrogant, bellicose nationalism. But it often takes the form of a yearning to live up to the nation's professed ideals.
...you can feel shame over your country's behavior only to the extent to which you feel it is your country. If we fail in such identification, we fail in national hope. If we fail in national hope, we shall no longer even try to change our ways...If in the interests of ideological purity, or out of the need to stay as angry as possible, the academic left insists on a "politics of difference," it will become increasingly isolated and ineffective. An unpatriotic left has never achieved anything. A left that refuses to take pride in its country will have no impact on that country's politics, and will eventually become an object of contempt.
Professor of Humanities