Dear Editor,

It is always a pleasure to see our citizens proud of their country. As our 243rd birthday arrives, it is apparent that many have come to confuse patriotism with nationalism and in some corners, tribalism.

While some nationalism is normal, once citizens place the symbols of our country above the values they stand for, we tread in a direction unhealthy for those very freedoms.

Our Freedom of the Press struggles under daily attacks, our Freedom of Speech is continually challenged, our Freedom of Religion is being changed to ‘Freedom of Our Religion, or Else’ and in many parts of the country, our Freedom of Petition and Freedom of Assembly are being restricted by untenable laws generated by ultra-conservatives.

A free country will never demand its citizens pledge their allegiance at meetings, or its children daily in schools. A free country will never demand its citizens recite prayers in public meetings, schools, or other public, non-theistic events. A free country will never demand its national anthem be conducted at every sporting event, every school graduation, or every political gathering.

Once a country’s citizens start demanding these actions, they have taken away everyone else’s freedoms. And that, fellow citizens, is how fascism kills a nation.

David Youngberg