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The version of patriotism Misao Nakaya suggests in his March 7 letter, “Teach patriotism at school,” seems to be the old-fashioned kind related to blind acceptance of authority and self-sacrifice. This kind of selfless patriotism is clearly not politically neutral and hardly represents a true feeling of love for one’s own country. Rather it is a product of the rightist rhetoric of belonging and heroism.

The times are gone when one could find it natural to simply “belong” and thereby entrust his/her fate to authority with the assumption that his/her interests would be taken care of in the best possible way. The very facts of World War II should be enough to prove that authority either cannot make, or has no interest in always making, the best decisions for everyone. Thus the recent government’s plan to use school time and facilities for what amounts to political indoctrination is quite scary.

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