Sojourner's Place

A Study of American’s Views on Identity  

Posted by SjP in ,

**Originally posted: 6/12/08

The results of The Bradley Project were recently released. Established in 2007 by the The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Project examines the American National Identity and whether or not that Identity continues to exist and work.

According to the Project's website, leading historians, political scientists, journalists, public figures, and educators were brought together during the past year to examine the following aspects of American life crucial to American identity: American National Identity, Assimilation and Immigration, America’s Place in the World & National Security, and Historical Literacy & American Civic Education.

The findings of this Project Report deeply disturbing for a number of reasons. First, the report is being purported as a roadmap in “re-establishing” our National Identity based on the responses of approximately .000008% of the American Citizenry. With a population of over 300 million citizens, 2400 is hardly a representative sample size and therefore, these results can only be interpreted based on those who responded and not representative of Americans. In addition, of the 2400 participating about 600 were identified as racial or ethnic minorities with 240 (10%) being African American.

Second, the research was conducted for a seven day period (December 10 – 17, 2007) among members of the Harris Poll Online Panel, a group of several million people who have agreed to participate in survey research. In other words, to participate in the survey participants must have been registered and “qualified” members of Harris Poll Online. By any research standard, the manner in which the data were obtained limits the validity and reliability of the findings as related to the overall population. The findings are limited ONLY to the population size and therefore, cannot be used as descriptors of the American citizenry.

Third, the Project Report is based upon a history of the establishment of America that is skewed and exclusive. It purports, as indicated in the Chapter 1: Being an America, that the Country was not founded on a common ethnicity but on a set of ideas. Yet, we know that the Founding Fathers struggled and argued among themselves with the very idea of the advantages and disadvantages of proclaiming their independence from their homeland – England. The Founding Fathers – because of their ethnicity – struggled with the set of ideas that would later become the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Yet, in penning “all men are created equal” African slaves were excluded – because of their ethnicity – from “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

Fourth, the “white-washing” of the history of America is further evidenced by some of the questions asked. For example, there is a question related to the Emancipation Proclamation and what this document did. Respondents were provided multiple choice options to answer this question. Although most answered that this document freed the slaves, that document - an act of war against Confederate States - did not free a single slave and did not address slavery in Union States. It was of course the 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865, that freed the slaves and the 14th Amendment ratified a year later that granted them American citizenship.

The other chapters of the full Project Report along with lead in statements are provided below. I urge you to read the Project for yourself. This Project is being touted as the document to form the basis of a national conversation on the American Identity.

Being an American: America is unique among nations in being founded not on a common ethnicity, like France or Japan, but on a set of ideas.

A Nation Based on an Idea: There is a challenge that lies at the heart of what it is to be an American. A nation founded on ethnicity perpetuates itself by the fact of birth. But a nation founded on an idea starts anew with each generation and with each new group of immigrants.

A Shared History: A history is to a people what a biography is to an individual.
What amnesia is to an individual, loss of civic and historical memory is to a nation.

Becoming Americans: Early poets and writers celebrated America as a refuge, a fresh start, and a land of freedom, opportunity and wealth.

To Provide for the Common Defense: One of the things that most unites Americans is that, put simply, we are all in the same boat.

The Unum is America: The fact is that America is one nation among many, some of which do not share American values, much less our national interests.

I urge you to become a member of the Harris Poll Online where your voice and opinion will can be heard to influence important decision makers in government, corporations, and non-profit organizations. You can help shape the policies, products, and services they offer you! Let's make sure we're in the database when similar surveys are conducted to determine how Americans really feel!

I predict that it will be discussed more in the media to elect the candidate that is more representative of the National Identity the closer we get to November. I also urge you to help “DEEP SIX” this report dead in its tracks before it begins to pick up steam!

Holla Back!

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner's Place ain't got nothing more to say.

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This entry was posted at Friday, June 13, 2008 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .

4 sojourners hollin' back

"In other words, to participate in the survey participants must have been registered and “qualified” members of Harris Poll Online."

I'm by no means a statistical expert, but I have a marketing degree, and workin in statistical data collection; and the fundamental aspect of statics is that in surveying the respondents have to be "random". That is, everyone with in your population set has to have an equal chance of being chosen.

This is anything but random, actually it's the exact opposite; it's pre-selected. It's an intentionally scewed methodolgy. It has no credibility beyond telling you what the organization and the people who commission the report think.

June 12, 2008 at 3:04 PM

Yobachi, you are absolutely correct on this! I think Barack's call for a conversation on race and this call for a conversation on national identity are going to converge in a real explosive way. So we have to make sure that this research is flawed from the jump and defies the objectivity of any research methods known to mankind. I hope you'll join in the effort to get the word out about just how bogus The Bradley Project really is.

June 12, 2008 at 3:17 PM

"Being an American: America is unique among nations in being founded not on a common ethnicity, like France or Japan, but on a set of ideas."

I would like to point out that this is true of Canada as well. I know that we are just your maple syrup producing neighbor to the North however a lot of the points that you mentioned as descriptive as solely American are actually relevant to all of North America

June 13, 2008 at 2:15 PM

Hey Renee! Much obliged for stopping by. The descriptors here are from the Project - so I can't take credit for them, not that I want to. In fact, I think the entire report is bogus, skewed, and based on a vision of America that is not reality. In fact, and in my opinion, it is because of the skirting of the reality that America is in the shape she's in today.


June 13, 2008 at 2:28 PM
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