Since when is patriotism considered a “demonstration”? Worse yet, since when is displaying your patriotism IN AMERICA considered a biased activity? It is if your group decides to sing the national anthem on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. At least that is the explanation given by U.S. Park Police as to why they ordered a group of high school students to stop singing the national anthem. In their zeal to keep the area “content neutral,” the park officials lost track of the fact that in America, patriotism used to be expected.
As noted in a story on FoxNews.com, “A group of high school students attending a conservative leadership conference in Washington, D.C. said they were ordered by a security guard to stop singing the national anthem during a June 25 visit to the Lincoln Memorial.” According to the report, “U.S. Park Police confirmed that the students were in violation of federal law and their impromptu performance constituted a demonstration in an area that must remain “completely content neutral.”
Sgt. David Schlosser explained that the area the students were in was “restricted for this type of activity,” and he added that “performances, regardless of content, are banned to “maintain a contemplative and reverent area for the Lincoln Memorial, for the other guests and visitors.”
Here’s my take on the whole situation. First of all, the police officer should have just let the kids finish singing. They were already part way through the song. Once finished, the officer could have said, “I’m sorry, but this area of the memorial is supposed to remain quiet for visitors to show their respect and reverence.”
Done. No big deal. I know that some people may knee-jerk and complain that this is stifling of free speech, that is not the point. The point is that it is ok for the area to maintain its quiet nature, but the officer could have handled it much better. By waiting until the song was over, the officer could have simply asked them to move down where singing was permissible. Instead, he made an issue out of nothing by “breaking up” the “demonstration.”
The second point is the larger issue to me. This whole idea of “content neutral” seems a little bit crazy when talking about the national anthem. This is America, right? If a group were protesting abortion, either for or against, that content clearly would not be considered “neutral.” If a group was advocating amnesty for illegal aliens, that would not be considered “neutral.” But can someone tell me how singing the national anthem in America is somehow biased or not “content neutral”?
Schlosser told Fox News:
“We need to make certain that all other visitors that don’t want to be a part of that or just choose to be tourists are able to do so in the same light that probably President Lincoln wanted – which is completely content neutral,” he said.
President Lincoln died for his efforts to bring America back together. He paid the ultimate price for his love for his country. I seriously doubt that singing the national anthem would have been considered biased in his eyes. It would have been expected.