One Flag, One Language, One School (ca. 1921)

One Flag, One Language, One School

Pamphlet by C. A. Windle, ca. 1921.

In this pamphlet, C. A. Windle argues that the “anti-parochial school campaign is merely one phase of the anti-Catholic crusade.” He cites the Smith-Towner Bill, which effectively set the movement for compulsory public education in motion, and alludes to other “bills which have for their ultimate object the destruction of Catholic schools.” (In a few years, the Oregon School Case would become the most notorious example.)
Although the pamphlet is undated, the inside cover offers a clue. Under the heading “A Great Man Dies,” Windle laments the death of Cardinal James Gibbons at the age of 86. From other sources we can confirm that Cardinal Gibbons died in March of 1921; therefore, we can assume that the pamphlet was issued sometime shortly thereafter.
Please read the following excerpts from the pamphlet (or click to see the full text).

Excerpts

  • The enemies of the parochial school camouflage their attack upon the right of parents to give children a religious education by a pretended defense of the public school.
  • [Americans] should investigate the proposal to abolish parochial schools and analyze it carefully. Is it right or wrong? Does it accord with American principles or is it in conflict with the ideals upon which this Republic is founded? Does it interfere with religious liberty?
  • The anti-parochial school bills proposed in various states are dishonest because they are weasel-worded in such a way as to appear not to harm parochial schools, but merely compel attendance at public schools.
  • The backbone of the argument put up by these so-called public school defenders is exemplified by the clever slogan they use which is cunningly designed to catch the unthinking and deceive the uninformed—“ONE FLAG, ONE LANGUAGE, ONE SCHOOL.”
  • Every American can endorse the sentiment of having one flag, but it must be the grand old banner of the stars which guarantees religious freedom, and under whose sacred folds the right of Catholics, Protestants and others to follow their conscience in giving their children a religious education has ever been protected. The flag without this right becomes a meaningless rag.
  • Americanization of tens of thousands of immigrants would be well nigh impossible if we were so blind as to prohibit the teaching of foreign languages in our schools.
  • They assert that the “little red schoolhouse” is in danger of being gobbled up the religious school ogre.
  • America is great today because its people are of different races and received different training, have different ideas and in them combine the best elements of each.
  • One Flag? Yes! The flag of Liberty!
    One Language? Yes! The language of Truth!
    One School? Yes! The School of Justice.

Questions

1. How does Windle’s title — “One Flag, One Language, One School” — use irony for rhetorical purposes?

2. What does Windle mean when he calls the bills “weasel-worded”? (See third bullet point.)

3. Do you see any parallels between the types of arguments that Windle is refuting in this pamphlet and the types of arguments that we see in contemporary politics? If so, give an example.

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