I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard a community member come before the school board and criticize the common-core curriculum, contemporary academic texts, and liberal teachers. I know about the attacks on so-called liberal academics—my colleagues and I often joked about being disappointed that we never made the conservative hit list of professors. What shocked me was the unshakable belief on the part of some in our community that teaching truth, rather than information designed to support a particular world-view, has undermined patriotism and weakened America.
I understand the fear that, without taking pride in country, our young people and our institutions are at risk of negative influences. But pride based on misinformation is not sustainable pride, not productive pride, not healthy pride. To apply an old philosophical syllogism: All humans err; all Americans are human; therefore, all Americans err. Its simple logic. Why do we need a forgiving G-d if we do not make mistakes? America has made its share of mistakes. We can’t know what America has done to overcome its past errors if we hide our mistakes, rather than own them.
To its credit, America has resolved and struggled to correct those errors. That is what we should be proud of; that is what will inform our children’s patriotism.