The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Iowa should not force students to sing the national anthem

Recently a few Iowa lawmakers have proposed a law that would have students sing the national anthem each morning, but this will only spur resentment and force patriotism on our students.
Ryan Adams
The American flag flies above the Old Capitol Building on Thursday, January, 24, 2019. The semester theme of “The American Dream” celebrates the diversity and perseverance of the American people.

House Senate Bill 587 was introduced in the Iowa Legislature in January that would require students to sing the national anthem daily at public K-12 schools.

This bill would also require social studies classes to teach the history of the national anthem.

This is nothing more than an attempt to force patriotism and violate the First Amendment rights of students.

The First Amendment gives all Americans — regardless of age — the right to freedom of speech and expression. This bill tries to address this by allowing students to take respectful silence, but it is unclear how this silence is meant to be performed. It would also mean that teachers who wish not to sing would have to be replaced by another staff member willing to.

The bill does not give further specifications or details about this procedure.

While students are given an out, they are given it in a way that potentially silences them. For teachers who wish not to participate, this bill will ostracise them as they would have to go out of their way to find a staff member to fill in for them, taking away time from learning as well as drawing unnecessary attention.

The national anthem is meant to be a voluntary patriotic display. While it is fine to be patriotic, this requirement will only serve as a form of propaganda to force or heavily encourage kids to automatically take pride in their nation instead of being able to develop their own ideals from actively living in the country.

While the bill might seem patriotic in the U.S., it would be seen as weird and propagandistic in other nations. If videos came out of Chinese or North Korean students singing a song each morning, we might even find it authoritarian. But in the U.S., it is presented as a way for younger kids to learn to appreciate their nation. This could also build resentment, as kids will see the national anthem as a tedious chore they have to perform each morning instead of a display of patriotism.

While the national anthem is a good way to celebrate our country during sporting events, medalling at the Olympics, and national holidays, we cannot force kids to sing it during valuable time that they could use to learn instead.

Part of patriotism is learning to love or admire your country on your own by appreciating its culture, traditions, and sacrifices through your own eyes and experiences.

Forcing patriotism would only serve to manufacture a fake blind loyalty created through pressure and ostracization. The best course would be to let kids experience what it means to be American in their own way and let them have the freedom to determine and feel how they want about our country.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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Caden Bell, Opinions Columnist
Caden Bell is a third year transfer student student at The University of Iowa majoring in Ethnic and Public Policy. This is his first year at the The Daily Iowan.
Ryan Adams, Assistant Visuals Editor, films


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Ryan Adams is the Films Assistant Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa studying cinema and journalism.