by Robert Morrison
February 25, 2010
The ACLU is at it again. This time, they are demanding an apology from a Montgomery County, Maryland, public school teacher. Behind this demand is, as always with this federally-funded outfit, the bludgeon-like threat of a huge lawsuit.
What was the teachers offense? Apparently, the teacher threatened a student with detention if she refusedas she repeatedly didto stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher sent the student to the counselors office for her refusal to stand.
The ACLU immediately invoked the Supreme Courts ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943). That case is often cited as a hallmark of American civil liberties, especially remarkable because it was handed down while the United States was engaged in a world war to defend democracy.
But the Court in 1943 said that students cannot be required to salute the flag or recite the Pledge. That was quite right.
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.
The Court did not say that students could not be required to stand quietly while other students recited the Pledge of Allegiance. If we stop for a moment, we can all readily agree that it would be wrong to require, for instance, the children of legal resident aliens to pledge their allegiance to our flag. In the famed 1943 case, the parents of the children who declined to take part in the flag salute and pledge were Jehovahs Witnesses. These people had a religious conviction that led them to regard pledging allegiance to the flag as a violation of the Commandment against making graven images. We should not force these students to violate their consciences.
We are constantly told by liberals that the purpose of education is to prepare young people to take part in todays complex and multi-cultural society. Does it? Surely, anyone attending a baseball game at Baltimores Camden Yards between a Canadian team and the home team is familiar with the two national anthems that are played. O Canada and The Star-Spangled Banner are both sung. What are Americans expected to do during the playing of the Canadian national anthem? Just stand silently and to show respect. Its the civil and neighborly thing to do.
Theres rich historical irony in this, too. For the words of United States national anthem were composed at nearby Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812. Those rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air were weapons of our British enemies. And the Canadians national anthem contains this line: O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
Against whom exactly were the Canadians standing guard? Hint: It wasnt moose or polar bears. It was us. The Americans repeatedly had failed repeatedly to invade and conquer Canada when it was a British colony. But now, Americans and Canadians are the best of friends. We stand politely for each others national anthems, which may be the only two such anthems in the world that are actually written against each other.
Is the Montgomery County school case too trivial to merit national attention? No. It illustrates how classroom discipline and American patriotism are under constant assault by the ACLU. Our tax dollars are funding this radical outfit. Thomas Jefferson said to require a man to provide contributions of money for the propagation of opinions he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical. Surely, the fact that the ACLU uses our tax money against us is a gross violation of our rights.
Does it matter? John Walker Lindh is currently sitting in federal prison. He is the so-called American Taliban who was convicted of fighting against Americans in Afghanistan. Young Lindh was educated in Montgomery County Public Schools. Was he taught anything about why he should be loyal to his country? Why jihadism is a threat to all our rights? I seriously doubt it. By punishing a teacher who simply tried to give students the opportunity to express their patriotism and support for our country during a time of war, the Montgomery County public schools are doing nothing to avoid future American Talibans.