September 17, 2011

A forced patriotic mandate ... only the GOP

It is a funded mandate, but Constitution Day is a forced mandate, Kent Greenfield notes. Shock me that the GOPers in Congress got that done, and use the once-to-have-been-abolished Department of Education to do so:
Since 2005, by Congressional mandate, all educational institutions receiving federal funds — from preschools to universities, whether public or private — are required to provide relevant educational programming to observe the occasion.
 So, does that make it unconstitutional? Greenfield says that's at least arguable.
Ironically, Constitution Day is probably unconstitutional. One liberty the Constitution protects is the right of individuals and institutions not to applaud it. The laudable message that Congress wanted to send — our Constitution should be celebrated — is muddled by its method of mandatory commemoration. The mandate violates the academic freedom of the targeted institutions.
As for the option of turning down federal funds, Greenfield notes most schools can't afford to do that.

Beyond that, there's all the other issues. Riffing on the Pledge of Allegiance, Greenfield says:
(M)andatory patriotism is corrosive even if accomplished bit by bit. ... Rote patriotism is made even worse when citizens of other countries are also socialized to believe in the exceptionalism of their own nations.
Well put, well put. That said, conservatives have never met a version of coercive patriotism they don't like. Red Scare? Check? War on Terror? Check. Using a cheesed-up acronym to call a spy bill the Patriot Act? Check.

That all said, I'm surprised Grover Norquist hasn't pushed for this "stick" to be used to make Ronald Reagan Day a national holiday. Or that Rudy Giulani wasn't trotted out to do the same for "9/11 Day."

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