A truly saddening state of affairs exists in Arlington, Massachusetts. Students at the local high school have not said the Pledge of Allegiance in decades. No American flag hangs in any classroom. Some school administrators have suggested that this is to avoid religious controversy over the unmentionable G-word contained within the Pledge. No one, of course, can take this argument seriously. I’ve counted all fifty stars in my day, but I’ve never once seen “Jesus” embroidered on Old Glory. There is simply no “religious imposition” involved with allowing flags to hang in public school classrooms. Why on earth, then, would school administrators do such a thing? What exactly are they so afraid of imposing on students?
It is difficult not to surmise that the reason there are no flags in Arlington High School classrooms, and why students are not “subjected” to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, is because the school is queasy about imposing devotion to one’s country on the young. After all, isn’t this what fascists do? Truly free-thinking people need time decide whether their country is really worthy of respect. And anyway, being critical of one’s country is clear evidence of independent thought.
This is typical thinking for leftists and is the reason why they are generally so stylishly disaffected. For an ideology so concerned with the greater good, the Left certainly does a pitiful job at inspiring love for the abstract collective. Country would be the most concrete, yet the Left has all but abandoned this Kennedy-an sentiment.
This is certainly not without consequences, either. I’m reminded of a remark made by David Horowitz, while he reflected on an observation originally made by Irving Kristol (father of the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol). Kristol pointed out that every generation faces a barbarian threat in its own children. The young must, to a large extend, be taught their humanity. This is how they learn virtue from vice, for instance. Correspondingly, if this task isn’t undertaken, societal destruction is practically guaranteed.
Just as we’re taught an appreciation of many other things, patriotism is not an innate impulse. I suppose it’s possible that it can be arrived at through reason alone. But, how many 15-year-olds do you expect will draw this conclusion independently? Enough to make a difference? No — if we are not to lose our country to our own successive generations, we must not be negligent in meeting this obligation.
To its own peril, the Left has already lost this front. Two Januaries ago, as I stood in an endless sea of Obama-philes on the morning of the new president’s inauguration, I wondered: were these people brought here from a love of country or love of a man? Walking past the kiosks of Obama merchandise — t-shirts, keychains, posters and the like — the answer was obvious. What should have been the greatest day of patriotism in generations for the Left was little more than cheap celebrity fanfare and something approaching man-god worship. This is not patriotism. At best, this is a form of patrician-ism — a devotion to men and their capacity to wield power in the mob’s favor. Is this kind of societal cohesion, in lieu of genuine love of country, possibly sustainable? I sincerely think not. I suppose we’ll find out for sure when the mob grows restless again.