Do we have to affirm loyalty to the nation and other questions
Since it is Memorial Day, I am going to touch on a couple of stories involving the U.S., our soldiers or its' symbols. First is a 17 year old student who said he was too tired to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The conservative host I listened to (who says he is big on free speech by the way) stated it was awful that the student didn't stand as his teacher told him to do so. The student by the way said he was too tired from running to school, which may be true.
I am by no means surprised that the host took this position. It is the default position of of every non-libertarian on the right-wing, it seems. If you don't engage in the patriotic rituals or exercises of the country, you must despise freedom, apple pie and moms.
The U.S. Supreme Court though affirmed the right of everyone (and not just for religious reasons) to not have to participate in reciting or standing for the Pledge back in the 1940s when it stated, “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.”
The fact is, a great nation, which I believe we are, does not need people to recite loyalty oaths. That is what the Pledge is, a loyalty oath. Teach kids the good and bad things about America, but don't require them before they even understand the oath, to take it.
The teacher by the way in this case, is the government and we aren't obligated to obey the government in all matters, especially when this government official is either ignoring or is ignorant of the student's constitutional rights as affired by our Supreme Court.
In another case, a Chris Hayes, a commentator for MSNBC, stated he doesn't like to use the term hero for dead soldiers because what it does "...rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war." First of all, I think those who give their lives for our nation, are heroes.
Second, I don't think there is a definite causation between calling soldiers who died heroes and support for a war or future wars. But I think he is on something. All too often conservative supporters of wars (be they Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham etc) tell us to "support the troops."
That is of course a tired cliche to get Americans to support a war, by appealing to a means, and not the war itself. But, we still hear rhetoric about ensuring that troops "didn't die in vain", which implies we should continue to fight a war because soldiers already fought in a war.
So, I think Mr. Hayes has a point, but of course, he is being demonized by the right-wing talk show hosts over his comment. He has a good point, though he could have phrased it better.