Since Constitution Day is not a particularly well-known holiday, its mandatory patriotism may not seem like a big deal. But mandatory patriotism is corrosive even if accomplished bit by bit.Read the whole piece. As I noted here, our school’s new principal has decided to personally lead the kids in saying the Pledge every day. Why?
Consider the Pledge of Allegiance, recited by tens of millions of students every school day. Most schools are obligated by state or local laws to start the day with the pledge, but the real target of the pledge laws are the kids. Children have a constitutional right to opt out, but a refusal is so fraught with social risk that it is not a real alternative for most. The reaction to the rare child who refuses proves the point: last year, for instance, a Maryland teacher yelled at a 13-year-old girl who refused to recite the pledge and called a school security officer to escort her from the classroom. . . .
We should recall Justice Robert H. Jackson’s words from almost 70 years ago, in his opinion protecting the right of students to refuse to recite the pledge: “To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.”