May Day! May Day! Get Your Loyalty Token! President Trump Declares “Loyalty” Day

by Oletta Branstiter

On April 28, President Trump declared a new national observance.

In a proclamation released by the White House on Friday, the President, celebrating his first 100 days in the highest office of the land, announced that,

in order to express our country’s loyalty to “individual liberties, to limited government, and to the inherent dignity of every human being,” May 1 will be known as ‘Loyalty Day.

In observation of Loyalty Day, President Trump encouraged schools and other public places to celebrate by displaying the United States flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. All government buildings are expected to display the flag on May 1, as well. In actuality, this may look no different from any other day.

What is the purpose of this new holiday? The declaration reads:

“The United States stands as the world’s leader in upholding the ideals of freedom, equality, and justice. Together, and with these fundamental concepts enshrined in our Constitution, our Nation perseveres in the face of those who would seek to harm it. We humbly thank our brave service members and veterans who have worn our Nation’s uniform from the American Revolution to the present day. Their unwavering loyalty and fidelity has made the world a safer, more free, and more just place. We are inspired by their pride in our country’s principles, their devotion to our freedom, and their solemn pledge to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

This declaration, creating a new national observance, seems to be philosophically and politically aligned with candidate Trump’s slogan: “America First!”

Is the President attempting to redirect focus from the historical meaning and import of these Nationalistic mottos, or could he be blissfully unaware of their traditional implications?

Does he know the difference between Nationalism and Patriotism? Here are some definitions:

“Nationalism means to give more importance to unity by way of a cultural background, including language and heritage. Patriotism pertains to the love for a nation, with more emphasis on values and beliefs… Patriotism is based on affection and nationalism is rooted in rivalry and resentment…A patriotic person tends to tolerate criticism and tries to learn something new from it, but a nationalist cannot tolerate any criticism and considers it an insult… Nationalism makes one to think only of one’s country’s virtues and not its deficiencies. Nationalism can also make one contemptuous of the virtues of other nations. Patriotism, on the other hand, pertains to value responsibilities rather than just valuing loyalty towards one’s own country.”

American May Day observances began in 1884, when the ideology of Socialism began to be spread to the United States, encouraged by popular novels like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Jack London’s The Iron Heel, both ruthlessly highlighting the brutality of factory work.

“The origin of May Day is indissolubly bound up with the struggle for the shorter workday – a demand of major political significance for the working class… The program and policies of the early labor movement, although primitive and not always sound, were based, nevertheless, on healthy proletarian instinct and could have served as starting points for the development of a genuine revolutionary labor movement in this country. – from Marxists.org

While the labor movement may have been born out of a valid campaign to alleviate oppressive conditions under factory owners, it was effectively co-opted and promoted by the Communist movement on both sides of the ocean.

Not unlike Trump’s slogan, “America First”, the May Day observances reinforce a false patriotism based on nationalistic fervor.

According to a January 20, 2017, article in the LATimes,

Those same words galvanized a mass populist movement against U.S. entry into the war in Europe, even as the German army rolled through France and Belgium in the spring of 1940… A broad-based coalition of politicians and business leaders on the right and left came together as the America First Committee to oppose President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s support for France and Great Britain. The movement grew to more than 800,000 members.

While the America First Committee attracted a wide array of support, the movement was marred by anti-Semitic and pro-fascist rhetoric.

Die-hard populist supporters of the unconventional new Republican President will, no doubt, claim that their hero is redefining these suspect terms to reflect a positive push toward renewed Nationalism in response to the tepid and misdirected years of the Obama administration. Admittedly, in this regard, President Trump benefits from the lack of comprehensive history lessons provided by American education in the last century.

Many other Americans will consider his historically inept pronouncements as unfortunate word choices and even dangerous ideology, bordering on Fascism. They recognize that “those who have never learned history are doomed to repeat it,” and all of us are doomed to suffer under the ignorance. 

 

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