Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Flag Changes; the Constitution is Forever

So there has been a running debate, if you can call it that, in the letters page of the local fish wrapper about whether or not the flying of the US flag should be mandatory in every classroom, K-College. I actually got a response printed in the paper today, though once again, they reworded parts of my letter. Anyway, here is what they printed. And until we recognize that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are more important than any flag, we will continue this silly little fight.

In his June 18 letter, Tim Merritt accuses Rachel Matthew of being "contradictory," "impressionable" and a "tool." He also suggests that ""we ought to be careful in what we say in response to having a flag in the classroom or anywhere else."
As a veteran and an educator, Merritt's critique of both the "idiot" professor and his "tool" strikes me as the worst example of ad hominem attack. He implies that Matthew is unable to think for herself; rather, her beliefs could only have come from the mind of her professor.
If that is the case, then Matthew does not belong in college. This whole idea that professors are brainwashing students to think or believe a certain way is nonsense. The whole point of college is to encourage critical thinking. All the student needs to do is pick up a book to get an alternative view, whether of the right or the left.
The idea that we need to "be careful what we say" when discussing the flag in the classroom is perhaps the most disturbing thing of Merritt's letter. I did not serve my country to ensure that people had to "be careful what they say" about the American flag. I served my country proudly because I love it, and I love our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
If the flag I present with pride in my classroom were to burn, I would weep, and I would mourn, but I would not give it a second thought. However, if the copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights that I post in my classroom were to burn, I would rage. It is that Constitution that allows us to fly that flag, and to criticize that flag, and to criticize the critics, and it is that Constitution that we should be posting in our classrooms for all to read.
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