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Sunday Morning Book Thread - 02-25-2024 ["Perfessor" Squirrel] | Main | First-World Problems...
February 25, 2024

Do You Believe In Miracles? The 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team And The Future Of Patriotism


America had been on a roller coaster for almost 20 years, and most Americans wanted to get off the ride. From the highs of the space program to the lows of three high-profile assassinations, a presidential resignation, a military victory snatched from our armed forces by political machinations, violent cultural upheavals on our campuses and the concurrent profound social fracturing, fuel crises, the humiliation of the Iranian hostages, an economy that could not produce, stagflation, and a host of other ills conspired to shift the vision of a country from its post-war magnificence to one that gazed down on a country that was crumbling, polluted, getting poorer, and less influential on the world stage.

But the improbable success of a bunch of college hockey players against the Soviet Union and its seemingly inexorable drive for world domination was a respite from the grinding misery that had become America in the late 1970s. The story had everything America loved...underdogs, insurmountable odds, fighting and playing not for personal glory and wealth, but for a thing greater than themselves.

Did their victory provide a catalyst for the resurgence of America in the 1980s? No...of course not. It was a hockey game, not a geopolitical or economic tsunami. But it was a powerful symbol of what America once was, and could be again, and for a few moments the country remembered what it was like to see the horizons as limitless, rather than the increasingly stratified and static country we seemed to be becoming.

There were other forces at work too...Ronald Reagan understood how fragile our freedoms were and was able to articulate a vision of America that matched that of those 20 hockey players. Jimmy Carter's timid, diffident, and perhaps cowardly approach to America's problems became increasingly obvious. And most of all, America was still solidly patriotic, with love of country front and center in a large majority of the country. Reagan could rely on that deeply held belief that America was, is, and will always be the greatest country on earth, and that we would emerge from our current malaise a better and stronger country and people.

44 years later our country is in similarly dire straits. We are socially and politically fractured, our infrastructure is collapsing, the world sees us as a toothless, squawking bully, and our government seems to be actively pursuing policies that are antithetical to everything that America has believed for most of its history.

Worst of all, that sense of shared history and love of a common culture that is the hallmark of patriotism and American Exceptionalism has never been more fragile. If A similar situation in the world of sports...some amazing impossible run to the podium...happens, would America even notice or care? Would it become the focus of an awakening of love of country, or a refocus on what joins us together?

I think not. We have destroyed sports by relentlessly monetizing it: burying amateur athletics under a mountain of cash. Of course that is just a symptom of a much greater problem. We are no longer a unified country. Those tenuous links of the 60s and 70s that were made so much stronger by the resurgence of a belief in America as the greatest country on earth have been diluted by an ocean of illegals, by the careful undermining by the progressive academy of America Exceptionalism as a common bond; replaced by a post-modern mess of lemming-like pseudo-individualism, by the replacement of religion with new-age blather, and by the destruction of the idea of family as the first building block of a successful culture.

If we are to recover our past success, from where will that drive come? How will we rebuild the links that join us as a people? Would we even bother to cheer if those 20 players once again did the impossible?

digg this
posted by CBD at 12:00 PM

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