I still remember seeing members of Congress singing “God Bless America” on Sept. 11. I usually laugh at such hokey displays of patriotism, but not that day. I remember listening to President Bush speak right afterward. I didn’t joke about him as usual and I wanted him to be brave and wise. In my eyes, he was.
I want America to win this war. I want the victims of Sept. 11 to be avenged, and I want to do my part to help.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. In the Colorado legislature, there’s a bill that would mandate a patriotism class in public schools. Other, not so blatant, attempts at patriotism include the increase of Sept. 11 related-classes spawning at universities across the nation.
According to a story from the Knight Ridder wire service, Princeton University has three Sept. 11- relate courses, including “Lawful Responses to Terrorism After Sept. 11: A Human Rights Perspective.”
Even the press is getting in on the action. Members of United Press International helped out one of their sources by lending him a camera to do “further reconnaissance of the new location where terrorists were hiding.”
We’re all American citizens after all, and we should do our best to help this country. Right?
What I’m afraid of is that this new flurry for patriotism will lead to something else/_” indoctrination. Right now, we want to believe that our country is right in everything it does, but as history shows, that’s just not the case.
In 1971, The New York Times began publishing a series of articles based on the Pentagon Papers /_” a top-secret study of the U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia that ranged from World War II until May 1968. Included in these papers was proof of U.S. miscalculation and deception of the American people. The government tried to stop the Times from publishing, but, thanks to legal victories, the story came out.
It’s easy right now to get into the mentality that America is always right because that’s what we want to believe /_” what we need to believe to justify ourselves to the world.
But just because it’s easier to think that way doesn’t mean we always should.
Sooner or later our generation will be in charge of this nation. When that happens, will we still continue to believe everything we’re told?
While it is important to believe in America, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question what we’re being told, and it doesn’t mean we should silence those who do question. Newspapers across the country have been bashed for “un-patriotic” editorials that questioned American policy. Some college professors have even lost their jobs due to unpopular speech.
It may be hard to listen to those questioning a system that is defending the victims of Sept. 11, but if we allow the system to go un-questioned, how far will it go? Will our government try to deceive our willing ears, such as they did with the Pentagon Papers?
Will they try to silence the voices that attempt to tell the story?
We shouldn’t attempt to silence these voices. Instead, we should listen to as many sides as possible and decide, for ourselves, what is right and what is wrong.
Maria Sanchez-Traynor is a senior majoring in English and journalism.