Patriotism can’t be forced
Representative Esquivel of Medford is sponsoring a bill to require a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in all Oregon public K-12 schools. On the surface, it appears to be a patriotic measure intended to foster positive citizenship. Below this noble veneer is a clouded personal agenda.
Rep. Esquivel was unable to force the school his grandson attends, a public charter school, into flying flags and reciting the Pledge. The school’s director wanted students to have a thoughtful understanding about the meaning of the Pledge rather than just an empty recitation of words. Flaccid in his attempt, Rep. Esquivel is now using his position in the Oregon House to force his grandson’s school to comply with his agenda.
This bill cannot accomplish what its proponents hope for; patriotism cannot be forced. If patriotism is the goal, a weekly recitation keeps a presence in the classroom without being overbearing. Repeating an action daily can sometimes have an impact contrary to its intention. Just as reading a poem every day would not make every student a lover of poetry, reciting the Pledge every day will not make them patriots.
Where the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and the flag makes its most influential impact on kids is at sporting events. There, community members can rise up, remove their hats, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with students and role-model their own patriotism. Patriotism builds upon the sportsmanship of athletic events, nurturing a heartfelt passion that no empty recitation can replace.
The unanimous support in committee was a result of Oregon House members fearing to appear unpatriotic. The courageous vote would be a vote against Rep. Esquivel’s bill of jingoism under the guise of patriotism.