WASHINGTON, June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bradley Project on
America's National Identity today released its Report, "E Pluribus Unum,"
the product of a two-year study involving a number of our nation's leading
academics, public figures, journalists, educators and policy experts. The
report examines four aspects of American life crucial to American identity:
historical memory, civic education, assimilation, and national security.
The report finds that America is facing an identity crisis and calls
for a national dialogue on America's national identity. According to James
Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a
participant in the project, America's understanding and appreciation of
diversity is important but must be balanced by an emphasis on what we
share. "In selecting the title E Pluribus Unum, the Project embraces the
conviction that plurality and unity are not necessarily in tension with one
another, but are supporting ideas of the same national experiment," Ceaser
said. "Plurality is only made safe when it is grounded in a deeper
commitment to national unity. Unity is the precondition for healthy
To inform its work, the Bradley Project asked Harris Interactive to
conduct a study on Americans' views on national identity. The good news is
that most U.S. citizens believe there is a unique national identity that
defines what it means to be an American. The troubling news is that over
six in ten believe our national identity is getting weaker. And "even more
troubling is that younger Americans - on whom our continued national
identity depends - are less likely than older Americans to believe in a
unique national identity or in a unique American culture." Indeed, 45
percent of 18-34 year old Americans believe that international law should
trump the U.S. Constitution in instances where there is a conflict.
According to Professor Ceaser, "The weight of all this evidence
suggests mounting confusion about the meaning of American national identity
and a loss of commitment to its promotion."
"The findings from the report are sobering and significant. They raise
subjects that are vital to our future, transcend partisanship, and clearly
resonate with the American people," said Rick O'Donnell, Executive Director
of the Bradley Project. O'Donnell continued: "Our intention is that the
report be the starting point for a national conversation on these important
issues. Silent Spring in 1962 started a conversation that brought about
significant changes in our environment. A Nation at Risk in 1983 launched
an ongoing national conversation that continues to reshape American
education. It is in that tradition that we release E Pluribus Unum."
A number of notable scholars have already joined this conversation and
commented on the Bradley Project report.
Walter A. McDougall, Pulitzer-prize winning historian and professor at
the University of Pennsylvania calls the report: "An eloquent defense of
America's intellectual, civic, and moral identity that deserves wide
circulation, especially among American youth."
Harry Lewis, former Dean at Harvard College, says of the report: "A
stirring reminder that America is more than the union of our differences,
and a rational program for preserving the nation by passing American ideals
on to the next generation of citizens."
Amy A. Kass, of the University of Chicago, writes: "The Bradley
Project's report addresses the urgent problem of American identity in our
global and multicultural age, and its wise recommendations for promoting
civic consciousness and civic understanding couldn't be more timely or more
James C. Rees, Executive Director of Mount Vernon, said: "This report
confirms what we experience at Mount Vernon every day - that most Americans
know precious little about their own history. George Washington's face is
still familiar to most Americans, because we see it each day on the dollar
bill. But when asked about Washington's character and leadership, which
made all the difference in the world to the founding of our nation, the
average citizen is rendered speechless."
The report makes clear that we didn't get to this point overnight, and
that addressing our challenges is a long-term imperative. In addition to
its call for an immediate and comprehensive national dialogue on America's
national identity, it recommends:
-- a renewed focus on the teaching of American history,
-- embracing America's heroes and historic landmarks,
-- affirming the benefits of diversity, but not adopting policies that
perpetuate divisions or compromise our national identity,
-- inaugurating an initiative to ensure immigrants learn English,
understand democratic institutions, and participate fully in the
American way of life,
-- and creating an annual Presidential Award for American Citizenship for
students and new citizens who demonstrate exemplary understanding of and
commitment to American ideals and institutions.
Professor Ceaser concludes: "The report speaks of a nation 'founded not
on a common ethnicity,' but 'on an idea.' And it argues that 'a nation
founded on an idea starts anew with each generation and with each new group
of immigrants.'" "Knowing what America stands for is not a genetic
inheritance," said Ceaser. "It must be learned, both by the next generation
and by those who come to this country. From this premise follow many of the
recommendations to strengthen the serious study of American principles and
the American founding at all levels of education, including college."
SOURCE The Bradley Project