A visit to any American classroom during which children stand and pledge allegiance to the flag of their nation reveals mumbling, boredom, and the exact opposite of any feeling of patriotism. Lord Goldsmith is recommending new procedures which he believes will enhance patriotism on the part of children. Included are a new national public holiday to celebrate Britishness, making childlren take part in citizenship ceremonies, and ensuring everyone speaks English. “We already teach schoolchildren what citizenship means, but it would make sense to have a coming-of-age ceremeony which marks the moment they move from being a student of citizenship to being a real citizenship in themselves.”
The best rsponse to this meaningless dribble proposed by Lord Goldsmith was made by Lady Kennedy, a civil rights lawyer: “I see this as an empty gesture. To ask 16 year-olds to troop into a hall and like Ameircans put their hands on their heart and take an oath of allegieance is risible.”
Citizenship arises from being engaged in a society in meaningful ways. It comes from taking pride in one’s nation’s behavior as a democratic society. Unfortunately, for British, as well as American children, the past five years in which their leaders lied to them an caused the death of thousands, has done more to damage feelings of citizenship than all the ceremonies will ever accomplish.