Americans seem to have again found two old friends as a result of terrorism on their very own continent. Patriotism and personal opinion have once again found their public voices through the heartache and outrage being felt by so many.
Whether or not these rekindled friendships will grow and strengthen in the months and years ahead will depend on the courage it takes to sustain them. Seduced, for much too long, by the comfort zone of political correctness, Americans have allowed their civic courage to weaken and atrophy.
Civic courage is like a muscle, the more frequently you use it, the stronger and more reliable it becomes. Believe it or not civic courage is like good manners. The times in life when you need them the very most are those times when you feel like using them the very least. It's easy to be polite to people when things are going your way. It's when situations get a little unpleasant or uncomfortable that putting your best foot forward is harder to do. Courage works the same way. The times in life you need to act with courage are those times when you fear someone, something or some out come the most. Keeping civic courage close has not seemed necessary for the average American over the past four decades.
However, it only took losing the towers of the world trade center and over 6,000 human beings for the wearing of the red, white and blue to become big business and proof of patriotism. While I support the wearing of the red, white and blue, I am more concerned that those colors don't fade as they come under attack from within our own borders. Such an attack is underway by those Americans among us who think that our reaction should be to apologize to the world for being who we are and causing this to happen.
Need proof that political correctness is rearing its intellectually impotent head on this issue? OK, how about the professor at Duke University who was instructed to put a disclaimer on his own web site stating that his opinions in support of our retaliation have nothing to do with the university. His colleagues who shared the opposite view were not asked to put a similar disclaimer on their opinions.
University of North Carolina police and the university provost contacted a criminal justice professor who had expressed his opinion in his own office in support of our intervention in Afghanistan to a female graduate student. She then 'reported him' to the university authorities. She complained that his position made her "uncomfortable."
A New Mexico educational institution has also made the 'hit list' of those who would dictate the flow of words. Accused of 'treason' for his flippant and cavalier remark "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote."
Despite his published apology "I was simply being at the moment an incredibly insensitive and unthinking jerk." three Republican state representatives and one UNM offical are calling for his resignation. You see, the desire to control speech can be found on both sides of the political aisle. Apparently his public apology and recognition of his transgression means nothing to those who would seek their moment in the media.
While the world of political correctness and tyranny of thoughts can be found in many parts of our culture, educational arenas seem especially fond of these adolescent exercise and compulsory courses.
Take a look at the cases cited above and others which the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (www.thefire.org) is working to sort through.
What is alarmingly significant about these examples is the need for the individuals being victimized to have to resort to legal and outside organizations to see justice done. Only under the threat of public and alumni exposure have these educational institutions seen fit to cease and desist with their political and cultural persecutions of fellow Americans.
Free speech is a constitutionally protected right in this country or so we like to think. Civic courage, however, has only the protection of each individual citizen. Without such courage, patriotism and personal opinion fall victim to the tyranny of those within our borders.
Keeping courage close will create a comfort zone where patriotism and personal opinions will thrive. It's a price each of us can afford. The return on such an investment is freedom forever.
~ Casper Star Tribune - November 20, 2001
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