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'Pledge Issue Reveals Rift of America's View of Itself'

October 15, 1988

Kesler's column on the pledge issue contains so many distortions it would take a letter of equal length to refute them. I want to deal with just one, his rhetorical question "Why did he adhere to a split decision that admitted that the controlling 1943 case, West Virginia vs. Barnette, was ambiguous on the disputed point?"

Maybe he refers to the advisory opinion as a split decision. The case itself went 6 to 3 against the compulsory flag salute, which was not a narrow split, especially in 1943 at the height of wartime patriotic zeal. And there is nothing "ambiguous" in Justice Robert Jackson's reasoning. He states, for example, " . . . We are dealing with a compulsion of students to declare a belief." He doesn't like it. Further on he states, "To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of institutions to free minds." What's ambiguous about that?

The difference between liberals and conservatives, as I see it, is that liberals believe in freedom from governmental supervision for the individual, while conservatives believe in freedom from supervision for corporations.

I'm a liberal. And proud of it.

ERNEST JACOBI

Malibu

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