Trump has a history of hawking culture war vaporware. The draft executive order on “classical” architecture was announced in February and has not been heard of since. His “National Garden of American Heroes,” announced in July, still has no specific site or source of funding. So it should be no surprise that TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, says it has never heard of the “patriotic education” initiative and instead plans to “work with partners and global shareholders to launch online classroom projects.”
But this still sets a bad example, making a mockery of the limits on presidential power and establishing a precedent for authoritarian, top-down control of American education. As with Trump’s other trial runs as our national arbiter of taste and ideas, it is also a foolish temporary victory. The power to decide what education is “patriotic” could soon pass to Joe Biden—and while I’m not sure he will be eager to make use of it, I’m pretty sure President Harris will love all of the new executive authority Donald Trump is scheming to create for her.
As for myself, I would prefer that instead of trying to teach “patriotic history” or any other ideological flavor of history, we simply teach accurate, factual American history—in the confidence that if the story of America’s past is told truthfully, our country will come out looking pretty good.