WE believe in patriotism; and we believe in the teaching of patriotism in the public schools.
But we do not believe in the “patriotism” that—in many places—is being taught.
We do not believe in a kind of “patriotism” that glorifies war. War is against civilization, against national prosperity, against every interest of the individual and of the state.
We believe in a patriotism that seeks to save life, not to destroy it.
We believe in a patriotism that maintains—not denies—liberty of conscience.
We believe in a patriotism that proclaims that “all men are created equal,” and that every individual has “certain unalienable rights.”
This is the patriotism of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. This is the patriotism of the noble men who laid the foundations of this nation.
Why cannot the children in the public schools be taught something about individual rights? What could be more profitable than to teach them to prize their own rights, and to respect the rights of others?
What kind of patriotism is more truly American than that which prompted the writing of the Declaration of Independence?
To teach the children patriotism it is not necessary that they be taught how to kill people, and to believe that we are the “biggest” nation on earth, and can “lick” any or all of the others.
It is not necessary to teach them that the only proper place to show patriotism is amidst the smoke of gun-powder and the death and ruin of the battle-field.
If the American flag is to be held up before the children in the public schools, let them be taught that it stands for something else besides war.
Let them be taught the principles of individual liberty and independence upon which the government, represented by the flag, was established.
Teach the children to love peace, not war. Teach them that respect for right, that love of truth, that moral courage and self-reliance which are essential to true manhood. There will then be no danger but that they will grow up to be patriots.