A few days ago a student at an American university unwittingly burned a paper napkin on which was a representation of the American flag. A night or so after that he was set upon in his room, taken out and beaten till he lost consciousness. He is supposed now to be recovering in a hospital from the effects of his chastisement.
Such an occurrence is of course not typical. But it is warning of what may develop from a too keen sense of patriotism, however lofty.
The manufacturer who stamped that flag upon his napkins held willingly in contempt the symbol of the nation's greatness. He turned to a cheap and personal use that ideal which may never be cheap nor personal.
The men who, acting as a mob and by night, insanely and brutally took vengeance on one man, were inspired by a spirit of patriotism which is as false as it is evil. Not by violence may the great democracy be made steadfast. They, ignorant of the meaning of liberty, used the methods of violence to defend an ideal which they could not comprehend.
It is sad that now when we need to the utmost all the brave and honorable patriotism which our men may summon from a brave and honorable tradition, that some men, however few, should attempt mob violence as an expression of their love of America.
We should not, in being proud of our flag and our national anthem, fall to the level of the rabble, which hoots, throws stones, and riots when some slight form is omitted, not from an exalted and generous conception of the meaning of their nation and a desire to preserve its honor, but simply because, being a rabble, it loves to hoot, throw stones, and riot.