The Right of Patriotism

Some of you may have heard over the past week about a young man named Cody Alicea out in California (surprise!) who was ordered by his school (Denair Middle School) to remove the American flag that he displayed on the back of his bicycle. Supposedly this was necessary because the flag, which he displayed in honor of veterans like his grandfather, was a threat to school safety.  According to the superintendent,  Cody’s flag threatened his own safety because some minority students were upset that his American flag didn’t cause the same outcry that their Mexican flags did back on Cinco de Mayo.  To add insult to injury, the school told him to remove the flag theMonday before Veteran’s Day, despite the fact that he had flown it for two months before it miraculously became an “issue”.

The good news is, Cody’s school was soon forced to reverse their decision when they found themselves neck-deep in the patriotic outrage of Americans from around the country.  In fact, he got an American Legion motorcycle escort (around 100 bikes according to one report) the day he returned to school with this flag:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U2hB-Pz4zs]Of course, is it any surprise that the liberal knee-jerk reaction is to immediately target a patriotic kid like Cody as the problem instead of the malcontents who prefer to honor a foreign nation over America?  Not at all.  In fact, Cody is merely the latest in a string of incidents where patriotic young Americans have been targeted by school officials who deemed their peacefully expressed patriotism to be offensive or dangerous.  No doubt the liberals of Denair Middle School are privately disappointed that their little assault on America (and its veterans) disguised by safety concerns failed to fly under the radar.  I can’t help but wonder how many of them do escaped undetected.

What all this brings me to is a few thoughts about the “right of patriotism.”  We hear a lot in this country about our guaranteed rights and freedoms: the right to keep and bear arms, the right to a trial by jury, et cetera (if the Latin here leaves you a little blank, then I recommend you peruse the Bill of Rights for a refresher), and we hear quite a bit about patriotism and love of country—but what about a right of patriotism?  Of course, I recognize that this right is protected by an umbrella, so to speak, of other rights, specifically those found in the first amendment—freedom of speech, assembly, and the press in particular.   Personally, I also find it a bit odd to even think about a right of patriotism, just because I take so deeply for granted that it exists.  Even the most oppressive, totalitarian countries in the world encourage (and often force) their “citizens” to celebrate country and display their “patriotism”, perverted though it might be; so how could this right be challenged in the United States?

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the United States is just the place where it can be challenged.  While I think it’s fair to say that Americans generally expect patriotism (defined, I should add, as a love for or devotion to one’s country) from their fellow citizens, we don’t force it from anyone–in fact, we hold dear the right to say differently. This in itself does not create a challenge to the right of patriotism; however, a problems arises when those who choose to abstain complain that they are “offended” by the patriotism of those around them and then demand that it be reduced or eliminated altogether.  These leftist types have in effect invented a new right for themselves–the right to not be offended.  A right that applies, of course, only to minority groups, whether racial, philosophical, or religious.  It is perhaps the height of political irony that in the United States, a country that values freedom above any other, our right to express devotion to this and many other ideals is challenged under the deceptive aegis of “tolerance”.

This short piece is a rallying call.   The great weakness of those who love our country and freedom is that we too often take for granted the ability to express that love, and we end up sitting idly by while it is undermined by the forces of progressive tolerance.  It up to each of us to individually challenge this norm, first by courageously using our right of patriotism, and second by standing united with those individuals, like Cody Alicea, whose right is challenged by the radical, “tolerant” left.  I believe that these anti-patriotism forces are generally shocked when their sneak attacks are met with the kind of patriotic fervor and outrage that generally forces them to backtrack and recant.  Let us make sure that this is always the case.  Those who would sacrifice freedom for a little tolerance deserve neither.