Pick on someone your own size

I was appalled to read an opinion piece in this morning’s Inquirer about one of our clients, Sam Smith, a fourteen-year-old who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The editorial writer, Joe Cox, was incredibly patronizing about this young man, whose decision not to say the pledge is based in part on his opposition to his country’s policy in Iraq. Cox quotes Smith saying, “I don’t think of myself as an American,” he says. “I think of myself as a human being.”

But rather than applaud him for taking a stand for something he believes in, Cox chose to criticize Smith because his views on Iraq are nothing original and “straight out of the Democratic playbook.” (He also sums up Smith’s philosophy this way: “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Great rebuttal, Mr. Cox.)

Here’s how he concluded the article:

So while there’s some comfort in seeing a thoughtful 14-year-old take a skeptical view toward the things that conventional wisdom sometimes holds too close to its bosom, there’s also something sad about this particular case.

Sam Smith is an intelligent young man who unfortunately seems to know only what he doesn’t believe in, not what he does. And while rejecting God and country might seem fashionable to him now, there’s likely to be a price to pay somewhere down his life’s long road. That will happen the day he realizes he needs both in ways he can’t even imagine right now. Rest of article

I must disagree – I think Sam Smith knows exactly what he believes in.

Incidentally, Cox might reserve some words for the adults who have responded to Smith’s refusal to say the pledge with comments such as “he should move to Iraq if he doesn’t love this country” and comparisons to protestors who stood at airports calling returning Vietnam vets baby-killers. He has also been told by fellow students that their parents now “hate him.” Personally, I’ll take Sam’s thoughtfulness and courage over the sentiments of these “mature
adults” any day.

4 thoughts on “Pick on someone your own size

  1. The cry from war supporters during the Viet Nam War of “America, love it or leave it” was neatly answered by “America, change it or lose it.”

    the problem then (and, presumably,now) was not that we didn’t love our country or that we didn’t understand the system we were governed by, it was that we really bought into what we were taught in school. We really *believed* in the rights in the Constitution and and Bill of Rights, and the bold statements in the Declaration of independence. The rebellion was because the establishment did *not* adhere to those documents.

    Needless to say, I’m on Sam’s side.

    (But then, I also think that the Pledge should be returned to its orginal–pre-Congressional meddling–version.

  2. I agree with Sam’s position on this. It would be nice, if everyone could just learn to agree to disagree, without raising the emotional flag of war. Everyone isn’t going to think the same way as everyone else and it’s pointless to expect them to.

  3. Is there a way that we can get in contact with Sam? I’d like to give him my support, especially since his world seems to be closing in around him like a boa constrictor.

  4. Only a few years ago I was in Sam’s position at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School. For refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance, my friends and I were given detention. After several lengthy discussions with administrators, the principal instructed the teachers not to violate our constitutional rights any longer. From that day forward, an increasing number of students refused to stand for the pledge for a variety of reasons (religious, political, personal, etc.). I am heartened that Sam Smith and others like him still believe that we all have inalienable rights that no one–not the principal, not the teacher, not the government–can take away from us. I consider myself extremely patriotic and thoroughly American. Patriotism means having the courage to stand for what is right…

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