Since Donald Trump became president, the one word I hear constantly from his supporters has been patriotism. They use the phrase “Make America Great Again” as our new national anthem, stating the administration is restoring proper order to what this country supposedly stands for. However, there are several things that confuse me with this sense of patriotism and righteousness.
For starters, we can ask the simple question, what is an American? According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, an American is defined as “a native or inhabitant of the US or of North and South America.”
One of the reasons for the founding of the United States was to escape the control and rigid state of European culture. This country was founded on the idea of inclusion and freedom for those of varying cultures, religion, speech, and background. Various parts of the states were founded by many different countries including England, Spain, and France.
While Caucasian was the prevalent race, laws were enacted and modified to reflect inclusivity of all races and backgrounds within the country. Technically, by continental standpoint, the only true natives are the ones we mistakenly named Indians from a time before our country was even established as the original 13 colonies.
Furthermore, the term America references far more than the United States. This term includes all that fall within both continents. By this definition, those in Mexico and other countries disparaged by this administration can also be considered Americans. If we are getting specific and looking within the country, there is still an unfairness in the administration’s targeting of Mexico, calling them fake and illegal citizens.
In 2017, Pew Research Center, the leading think tank based in Washington D.C. regarding social issues and demographics, stated that the majority of illegal immigrants are not from Mexico. The research center stated that since 2006, there has been a decline in illegal immigration from Mexico, with illegal immigration from areas primarily focused on Asian countries now being the leading issue. For a president so adamant to stop illegal immigration, Donald Trump shows a much warmer side towards the western countries that are now documented as the leaders in this problem.
Beyond the inaccurate definition of being an American that the administration uses, I am confused by their credit for this nation’s patriotism. Each time that I see an act of unification by the country or patriotism, the message at the heart of the event is usually criticizing the administration. Most news outlets, award shows, and public figures that have shown a sense of pride in this country also condemn the actions of the administration, as well as question their policies and the wellbeing of the United States’ future.
While Donald Trump and his supporters may call these moments acts of slander and “fake news,” what cannot be disputed is the fact that we were founded on the idea of freedom of speech and the press. By Donald Trump trying to silence these groups is a blatant violation of our constitutional rights to speak. In addition, the Bill of Rights clearly states in the first amendment that the people have the right to question the governing body if they feel they are not being governed properly.
His supporters may still argue that they are acting out patriotically by trying to show that the administration is good and has the people’s interests at heart, however, anyone with common sense and a basic education can see that the violent and aggressive methods currently being used to show this is counterproductive. While Donald Trump rallies around the idea of having a military parade, this is being done for the wrong purposes. The administration believes we are seen as weak in the eyes of the world, yet in so many ways, I believe weakness is just being mistaken for youth. As a country, we are relatively new compared to some of the other world powers.
However, since our establishment, we have proven ourselves and need to garner respect from countries, not fear. By enacting methods to institute a state of fear upon the world, we as a country lose our sense of youthful innocence, instead of becoming as guilty as those countries we are trying to retaliate against. By remaining in a sense of respectful pride for what we as the United States stand for, we can garner respect and a sense of authority in our morals.
While we may not have an administration that believes in this philosophy, by the words of our founding fathers, it is this sense of righteousness and innocence that will keep us thriving in the world, and maintaining our strengths in the world’s eyes.
In the words of John Adams, “If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from a conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.” People may say Donald Trump has brought patriotism to the United States, but it is actually his actions that according to our founding fathers will undo our patriotism and divide our united country.