Patriotism is something I understand. I get being loyal to the country of your birth, being willing to defend it if necessary, and wanting to help make it a better place for all Americans.
That much I understand. I include myself in that definition.
Wild-eyed, flag-waving lunacy, masquerading as patriotism, is something that I consider a disease. And when that kind of lunacy infects a school, where fully grown adult teachers are entrusted with the responsibility of educating young children, then I consider it not only a disease but a potentially dangerous threat.
According to several news reports today, both local and national, a sixth grade student at East Middle School in Farmington Hills was reportedly yanked out of his seat last week by some crazy teacher who could not tolerate the idea that young Stone Chaney was not standing up and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance like the rest of the kids. The following day, yet another teacher lost her mind for the same reason. From the Detroit Free Press:
“She starts yelling at me, telling me to get up. I just kept doing my work,” he said. “She speed walks over to me, yells at me to get up. She wanted to know why. I told her that I don’t pledge to a flag. I pledge to God and to my family.”
One of the teachers has been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of an investigation by Farmington Public Schools, according to the Free Press story. The superintendent of Farmington Schools also released a statement saying that “The district fully supports the right of each student to participate or not in the daily Pledge,” which is fine, and somewhat of a relief. But it still doesn’t get to the heart of the problem here.
The first part of the problem is the obvious part, or at least it should be obvious. No teacher nowhere has the right to treat any child like that ever. At any time. There is simply no excuse.
The second part of the problem is that these teachers are supposedly adults who supposedly know something about the teaching profession and who voluntarily chose the teaching profession as a career. So how do these so-called adults call themselves teachers with a straight face when they don’t even know that Stone Chaney had a right not to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance? Whether you like it or not? It’s his right as an American citizen.
How is it that a sixth grader understands the Constitution better than two of his teachers?
And the third part of the problem, which will be more obvious to black folks than to white, is that it is highly unlikely that any teacher would have ever felt so free to mistreat and abuse and disregard the rights of a white child like this. To most black folk this is as clear as day. If you’re not black and are reading this, find the nearest black person and ask them.
What is also obvious, though maybe not quite so much so, is that this has got to be related to the fallout surrounding the stance taken by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who ignited a firestorm last year when he took a knee during the National Anthem as a means to protest police brutality against black bodies. So far this year, Kaepernick has not been signed by any professional football team, most likely due to retaliation for his daring to take a stand against injustice while still on the NFL plantation. No way I can say this for sure, especially since no interview with the teachers has been published nor have they been identified (hell, they could be black for all we know, but I kinda doubt it), but I’m guessing these two teachers are white and simply cannot stomach Kaepernick’s black defiance. But they can’t do anything about Kaepernick because Kaepernick is a grown-assed man. So instead, what do they decide to do? They take the coward’s way out and pick on a kid with the twisted hope of stamping out any flicker of burgeoning defiance and/or unwillingness to mindlessly go along with the crowd. Because obedient negroes are preferred.
Chances are, the vast majority of Stone’s classmates who were standing and reciting the Pledge had no idea why they were pledging or, even more likely, didn’t much care. Teacher says stand and pledge so they stand and pledge. That’s the way it was when I was a kid and we had to stand and pledge. I wasn’t pledging to be patriotic, I was pledging because teacher said pledge. Which is fine. But it doesn’t make those who pledge any more patriotic than Stone by any stretch. No way no how.
Patriotism has never been about blindly doing what you’re told.