I don't know where my first loyalty lies.
I'm just not at home with many of the elements of modern American education. I'm going to go ahead and apply to the foreign grad schools I was thinking about. (I haven't yet only because it's so much more of a hassle.) I often feel like I need a much more traditional sort of approach, even though I do not want a more conservative social culture. In my experience here in the US, social conservatism tends to fear/hate education and intellectualism, anyway. I have no use for any of that, and still less for xenophobia. At least at the university level (and often at the elementary and secondary levels), I hear the situation is much better in Europe. One of my profs says I belong in a place like Oxford, and maybe I do, but I'm also afraid of holding my own there...in large part because of those intersections I mentioned.
There's a regressive, primitivist kind of spirit at work in American education in our times. Since I live in a very conservative state, this is often counterbalanced, but a strange dynamic develops in this setting: the more conservative-minded profs will vacillate between kowtowing to academic Leftism and reactionary overcompensation. The result is a sadly hobbled kind of thinking that fails to truly take into account the myriad subtleties and nuances of life as we have it (often while reiterating the need to do just that, and claiming to in fact be doing it).
I know there would be another set of problems in another country, or even another school. And the truth is that I'll probably go wherever I get the best combination of funding and research options. But I know I don't feel at home here. And I need to find a place, however imperfect, where I do.
Maybe I'm in the wrong area of the right country, as I've been thinking. I've never lived in the Northeast, and always felt drawn to it. So if that does it for me, it's copacetic. But I'm going to hedge my bets by casting my net wide...