In Covid-19, Patriotism No Longer Has Political Appeals

A G Esq
2 min readMay 1, 2020

Why are Americans no longer eager to push patriotism to advance national unity at a time when unity is most needed?

After 9/11, American politicals, including politicians and media, all called for national unity with the rallying cry of patriotism. This was well understood outside of US. Indeed, other nations sympathized and even supported such call for unity with US.

This happened also with WWII after Pearl Harbor. Mass tragedies brings collective sharing of common pain, which allows people to overlook the relatively small differences of politics, which then leads people of all divisions to collectively sacrifice for unity.

WWII saw Americans sacrifice by joining the military to fight, but also saw civilians sacrifice in daily lives, with rationing of almost everything, recycling of metal, blackouts and civilian drills, etc.

Compared to that, today’s shelter in place seems relatively tame: plenty of food, can still drive to stores, just stay at home and wait for the pandemic to die down.

Yet after barely 1–2 months, some just can’t take it any more. Even politicians and media are getting antsy to get this over, while the new deaths and infections are still quite high. One would think that it would be one’s patriotic duty to help save the lives of other Americans?

“Patriotism” is the word that the politicals are no longer mentioning in daily press. Why?

Perhaps the idea of “collective sacrifice” for a national tragedy is no longer appealing? But Why?

Or perhaps the idea of 100,000 dead from a disease is not so tragic any more? (Considering 34,000 died from the flu season of 2018-2019?) But more Why?

Perhaps, ultimately, there is a limit for what we could convince ourselves of need for Patriotism, collective sacrifice, unity, and sharing of tragedy.

Afterall, more than 0.5 million in US are homeless as of 2018, more than 1 million are in prison, if we don’t think of those as tragedies deserving of patriotism, collective sacrifice, and unity, then why would 100,000 dying from a disease be more tragic?

This is perhaps the same rationale given by some from the beginning, afterall, many people will die of various sickness every year, all people will die of old age, so why bother with this disease?

The pure rationalist in me can sympathize with this logic, but nevertheless, the logic seems inhuman and even robotic in its pure efficiency.

Perhaps the problem is, Patriotism is losing the appeal in a society that has lost its ability to sympathize, that 100,000 to 1 million are merely statistics to be un-sympathized in the logic of efficiency.

Of course, we still see people waving the US flags a lot. But flags without the real patriotism via collective sacrifice and unity, seem just yet a new form of national tragedy that few will really care about.