With the 4th of July coming up, we are sure to hear a lot of America bashing, especially from progressives who see America as the root of all (or most all) evil.
Christians in our nation are critical of America too, but in a different way. We are critical of our homeland because we love her and want to see her prosper, which can ultimately only happen if she finds favor with God, and that can only happen if she conforms to God’s will and design for human life, revealed in Scripture and embedded in creation itself. As Christians, we have hope for America. We are patriotic. We seek to be faithful citizens, even if it sometimes means being the loyal opposition. Our love for America is not blind to her many faults, past and present, but it is certainly real and deep. We want to see America bow before Jesus because he is King of kings, Lord of lords, and Savior of sinners. We will celebrate those things in America’s history and present condition worthy of celebration, and we will seek to correct the rest, calling our nation, its people, and its institutions to love, trust, and obey Jesus.
Today’s progressives seem to think they can signal their virtue by rejecting all manifestations of patriotism. Burn the flag, kneel or turn your back during the anthem, and tear down statues of the men who built this country. The loss of patriotism, especially among the younger generation, is a cause for concern. People do not defend what they do not love; thus, an unloved nation is ultimately vulnerable to attacks, both from within and from without. Further, love for the fatherland is normally an extension of love for fathers and family. Hatred of nation reveals a hatred for all father figures, human and divine.
In her essay, “The Fury of the Fatherless,” Mary Eberstadt brilliants but disturbingly connects loss of patriotism to loss of faith and family. It’s long, but well worth reading if you want to understand what is happening in America today. This 4th of July, we should acknowledge that a renewed patriotism will not heal or transform our nation; our problems are much deeper than that. But our nation can only be healed by those who are patriotic, and whose patriotism grows out of a love for God and family.
Some quotations from the article:
Eberstadt on the riots of last year:
“The ritualistic exhibition of destructive behaviors in city after city is without precedent in America. Neither the civil rights demonstrations nor the protests against the war in Vietnam looked remotely like this. The differences demand explanation. Blame what you will on the usual bête noirs: Donald Trump, cancel culture, police brutality, political tribalism, the coronavirus pandemic, far-right militias, BLM, antifa. All these factors feed the “demand” side of the protests and rioting, the reasons for the ritualistic enactment. But what about the “supply” side—the ready and apparently inexhaustible ranks of demonstrators themselves? What explains them?
The answer cannot be “racism.” The spectacle of often-white protesters screaming at sometimes-black policemen undercuts anything dreamed of by Critical Race Theory. So do the actual statistics concerning cop-on-black crime. So do public attitudes. In 2017, according to Pew Research, 52 percent of respondents said that race “doesn’t make much difference” in marriage, and another 39 percent said that interracial marriage is “a good thing.” When 91 percent of the public shrugs at or applauds interracial marriage, it is absurd to speak of a spectral racism that permanently and irredeemably poisons society.
So, here’s a new theory: The explosive events of 2020 are but the latest eruption along a fault line running through our already unstable lives. That eruption exposes the threefold crisis of filial attachment that has beset the Western world for more than half a century. Deprived of father, Father, and patria, a critical mass of humanity has become socially dysfunctional on a scale not seen before.”
Fatherlessness is the root of identity politics:
“The frantic flight to collective political identities has primordial, not transient, origins. The riots are, at least in part, a visible consequence of the largely invisible crisis of Western paternity. We know this to be true, in more ways than one.
First, a syllogism: The riots amount to social dysfunction on parade. Six decades of social science have established that the most efficient way to increase dysfunction is to increase fatherlessness. And this the United States has done, for two generations now. Almost one in four children today grows up without a father in the home. For African Americans, it is some 65 percent of children.
Some people, mainly on the left, think there’s nothing to see here. They’re wrong. The vast majority of incarcerated juveniles have grown up in fatherless homes. Teen and other mass murderers almost invariably have filial rupture in their biographies. Absent fathers predict higher rates of truancy, psychiatric problems, criminality, promiscuity, drug use, rape, domestic violence, and other less-than-optimal outcomes.
Here’s another pertinent, albeit socially radioactive fact: Fatherlessness leads to a search for father substitutes. And some of these daddy placeholders turn out to be toxic.”
BLM’s attack on fatherhood:
“the language of BLM itself suggests that daddy issues are an ingredient in the political mix that has exploded in cities across the country. Before it was removed in late September, one section of the BLM website declared: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”
Note the missing noun: fathers. It is as if fathers—as distinct from “parents”—had ceased to exist. And indeed, for at least some of the people drawn to BLM’s ideology, fathers have ceased to exist. In this sense, BLM is a direct heir of the founding document of identity politics, the Cohambee River Collective Statement put forward by black feminists in 1977. That manifesto spoke of women and children only—never of fathers, brothers, or sons.
What does it tell us that these seminal declarations of identity politics are shot through with “the presence of the absence” of fathers? At minimum, the politics of identity are not operating in isolation from the disappearance of paternal authority.”
Biographies of the architects of CRT as it has manifested itself suggest father hunger is a driving force behind the movement:
“the biographies of at least some of today’s race-minded trailblazers suggest a connection between fatherlessness and identity politics. The author of the bestseller White Fragility was a child of divorce at age two. The author of the bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race reports that her father left the family and broke off contact, also when she was two. The author of another bestseller, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, was raised by a single mother. The author of another hot race book, The Anti-Racist: How to Start the Conversation About Race and Take Action, was raised by his grandmother. Colin Kaepernick’s biological father left his mother before he was born, but he was then adopted and raised by a white family. James Baldwin, a major inspiration for today’s new racialist writers, grew up with an abusive stepfather; his mother left his biological father before he was born. The list could go on.
So what? A skeptic might say. Maybe family breakup is just part of many peoples’ kitchen wallpaper by now. True. But it may also be motivating the formation of identitarian political groups that operate as functioning families do, by providing protection and community—just as family breakup in the inner city lures many fatherless kids to gangs.
Biographies on the alt-right and far-right offer similar suggestive evidence. The founder of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa is a child of divorce. The neo-Nazi who founded the alt-right media network The Right Stuff is a child of divorce. George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, was a child of divorce. Timothy McVeigh, the poster boy and prototype for today’s violent far-right aspirants, was a child of divorce who was raised largely by his father. This list, too, could go on. An Atlantic profile of neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin concluded: “Like so many emotionally damaged young men, [he] had chosen to be someone, or something, bigger than himself on the Internet, something ferocious to cover up the frailty he couldn’t abide in himself.” Exactly.”
Societal break down stems from loss of attachment to the church:
“More and more Americans, especially young Americans, have suffered not one but several ruptured connections to authority and community simultaneously.
That fact explains why even the young who do come from intact homes are affected to some degree by the crisis of Western paternity. The institutions that once anchored teenagers and young adults in paternal authority are in free fall. Their concomitant collapses generate a social anxiety that is contagious. This dynamic renders the occasional spectacle of well-off protesters from unbroken homes smashing people’s property more intelligible than it appears at first. The saying “People, not property” inadvertently points to what ails young America most: a people deficit.
Christianity, to name one institution that has connected Americans to other generations and one another, began a stark decline around 1963. That decline has accelerated with particular speed among the young. In 2019, 44 percent of Americans aged eighteen to twenty-nine were “nones.” “None of the above” is now the fastest-growing religious subset in the United States.”
There is evidence that the loosening of family ties and the loosening of religious ties are linked—especially among practitioners of identity politics. A 2016 study of white nationalists by the University of Virginia’s Family Policies Institute turned up at least two suggestive findings. One was that subjects were much more likely to be divorced than to be married or never married. Once again, family rupture and extremist identity politics appear to be related.
The same study also confirmed that those drawn to white nationalism are unlikely to attend church (indeed, most white nationalists fervently oppose both Christianity and Judaism). Thus, religious rupture and extremist identity politics also appear to be related. The same seems true of BLM, which as a Marxist movement would oppose Christianity in principle. It seems unlikely that antifa members are tithing or spending Sunday mornings with a hymnal, either. Identitarian bands seem to function as “street families” for the soul.
The connection of all of this to patriotism:
“If fatherlessness and secularization are two aspects of the decline of the paternal principle, there remains a third: attachment to country. Here, too, Millennials and Gen Z stand out. For many years, the decline of American patriotism among the young has been charted in surveys. Gallup reports a fifty-year decline in Americans’ trust in both political and non-political institutions (the military, the police, organized religion, the media). A headline last year summarized the point: “Poll: Patriotism, Religion, Kids Lower Priorities for Younger Americans.”
Plainly, weakened bonds in one phase are not an isolated phenomenon; they encourage weaker bonds elsewhere. Filial piety, perhaps, is like a muscle that is strengthened by different forms of exercise.
We are only beginning to understand how filial piety operates, such that loss of patriotism, loss of faith, and loss of family each seem to encourage breakdown in the other parts of the triad. In his groundbreaking 1999 book, Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, sociologist Paul Vitz analyzed one way in which the father-Father connection might operate. He examined prominent atheists across four centuries and argued that each had experienced some form of “defective fatherhood,” such as absence or abuse. Anger at fathers, Vitz theorized, was translated into anger at God. In 2013, my book How the West Really Lost God connected godlessness and fatherlessness to argue that secularization amounted to fallout from the sexual revolution. Together, Vitz’s book and mine suggest an avenue of research: Does lacking an earthly father make it harder to believe in a supernatural Father? And might the reverse also be true?”
The link between patriotism, faith, and family:
“What is happening to America is an excruciatingly painful truth that life without father, Father, and filial piety toward country are not the socially neutral options that contemporary liberalism holds them to be. The sinkhole into which all three have collapsed is now a public hazard. The threefold crisis of paternity is depriving many young people—especially young men—of reasons to live as rational and productive citizens. As the Catholic theologian Deborah Savage put it recently, reflecting on America’s youth: “They have been left alone in a cosmos with nothing to guide them, not even a firm grasp of what constitutes their basic humanity, and no means of finding the way home.””
Addendum: Kevin Fox points out that the word "patriot" means "of one's father." Fatherlessness and rejection of fatherhood will necessarily lead to anti-patriotic sentiments and actions.