PERSPECTIVErnAnthems for Doomed Youthrnby Thomas FlemingrnRockford is becoming for me what the Rouen Cathedralrnwas for Monet or the village of Selbourne for GilbertrnWhite: a place intrinsically no more interesting than any otherrnbut as worthy of close attention as any human community.rnRouen Cathedral is beautiful, but Europe has hundreds, evenrnthousands, of beautiful churches. Monet, by depicting Rouenrnin every possible light, weather, and season, made it his. Forrngood or ill, I am making Rockford—a light industrial suburbrnof Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon —my own mythicalrnuniverse.rnOne chapter in the ongoing saga of federal t)’ranny in Rockfordrnis the construction of several superschools that will transferrnmore money from the hands of parents and children to thernpockets of public contractors, lawyers, and education bureaucrats.rnThe other day the undisputed king of Rockford talk radiorninterrupted my breakfast to ask what I thought of the groundbreakingrnceremony for a planned magnet school. /According tornan announcement from the school district, the ceremonyrnwould begin with a playing of national anthems: first the American,rnand then the Mexican. I agreed to go on the program torndiscuss the implications, and as soon as the host read the announcement,rnthe lights on his telephone lit up and stayed litrnthroughout the two hours I was in the studio.rnThe callers often prefaced their remarks with “I am shocked”rnor “I can’t believe it.” To me the only surprising part is the surprisernitself Magnet schools, which are supposed to attract ethnicrndiversity without coercion, ought to be called Venus Flytraprnschools, because however sweet the nectar smells, the endrnresult is death—death to community schools and parental influencernand an end to the remote chance that students mightrnlearn an^iihing but propaganda. The underlying assumption ofrnall these programs that march under the banner of schoolrnchoice (here in Rockford the magistrate and master call theirrnsystem “controlled choice”) is the Jacobin-Marxist convictionrnthat the state rules and experts decide. Fathers, who were oncernregarded as symbols of sovereignty and divine power, are reducedrnto the status of taxpayers and laymen.rnThe token Republican columnist working for the Gannetrnmachine’s “Rockford” newspaper described the outragedrncallers as “xenophobes,” a word he probably had to look up inrnthe dictionary. What he neglected to mention is that one of therncallers had a Latin American wife, another was a Mexican immigrant,rnand several claimed to have spent years in Spanishspeakingrncountries where they never expected to hear the “Star-rnSpangled Banner” played at soccer matches and never askedrnfor their children to be given English-only instiuction paid forrnby Spanish, Mexican, or Ecuadorian taxpayers.rnW’liat people objected to was not so much the celebration ofrnMexican cultural heritage as it was the explicit acknowledgmentrnof dual loyalt}’ and dual sovereignty’. Flags and nationalrnanthems are not cultural expressions; they are statements of politicalrnallegiance. Wlien radical students carried the hammerand-rnsickle or the flag of North Vietnam or burned the Americanrnflag, everyone knew what they meant: they werernrenouncing their allegiance to the United States. WTien Chinesernstudents, in “pro-democracy” demonstrations, wavedrnAmerican flags and set up models of the Statue of Liberty, therncommunist government interpreted their symbolic gestures—rnquite properly—as a threat to the regime.rnNo man can serx-e two masters, and Mexican-Americans canrnlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn