The Spectacle Blog

Shedding Patriotism

By on 4.25.06 | 6:24PM

I came across a remarkable column on AlterNet today about a mother's revulsion at her five year-old boy's patriotism and her joy at his shedding of the lies his teacher told him. It's insanely long-winded, but worth checking out for a few choice bits. An electronic sample platter:

The Harlem unit of the National Guard was putting on a Christmas clothing drive for Iraqi children. On the way into the city, I tried to explain to my son what we were doing, and -- as best I could -- why. As we crossed the George Washington Bridge and the Manhattan skyline spread out below us, I began to give him a variation on the "Africans don't have any food, finish your dinner" talk. I wanted him to understand how privileged he was to live in a place where bombs don't rain from the sky. It was a talk I'd tried to have before, but not one he'd ever paid much attention to until that day, trapped in the backseat of our car.

In simple language, I told my son that our president had started a war with a country called Iraq. I said that we were bombing cities and destroying buildings. And I explained that families just like ours now had no money or food because their parents didn't have offices to go to anymore or bosses to pay them. "America did this?" my son asked incredulously. "Yes, America," I answered. He paused, a long silent pause, then burst out: "But mommy, I love America! I want to hug America!"

Hug America! What a clueless Bush drone! Doesn't he know how big America is? Can he even pronounce "nuclear" correctly? The parents' intervention here is clearly warranted. More:

The patriotization of our son was thorough enough to survive the summer. He decorated his birthday cookies with red, white and blue sugar, and in his summer camp program, when doing arts and crafts, those were the colors of paint he favored. "I made the stars red, white and blue -- like the flag!" he exclaimed, holding a paper mobile he'd strung together.

I love America, too, but is anyone else getting the impresion this kid's mom is trying to make him out to be a sort of hybrid cross-polination of Sean Hannity and Forrest Gump?

We've since returned to the city, driven back to urban life more by adult boredom and the need to earn a living than our children's relative educational opportunities. Our son is now enrolled in a well-rated K-5 public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side; he's one of two white kids in his class. Not surprisingly, the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer part of his morning routine. Come to think of it, and I could be wrong, I've never seen a flag on the premises.

Thank Heaven's! A return to civilized living!

My husband and I realized, though, that Narrowsburg did more than mold our boy into a patriot. He can, it turns out-- despite the warnings of other city parents--read at a level twice that of his new peers.

Seriously? Those provincial yahoos can read?

Since we returned to the city, he has learned how to ride a bike, long for an X-Box, practiced a few new swear words, and, somehow, learned the meaning of "sexy." He has pretty much stopped favoring red, white and blue.

And that alone is worth the price of well-rated a K-5 public school on Manhattan's Upper West Side with only two white kids. God Bless America!

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