Missouri college unveils mandatory course on "patriotic education"

It’s fun to imagine the howling that would have greeted this idea if it had been proposed by a public university. (Would it survive a First Amendment test, legal eagles?) But the school, the College of the Ozarks, is private. It’s a Christian college that offers free tuition in exchange for students agreeing to work while they attend. A course like “Patriotic Education and Fitness” that gives them a very basic taste of basic training thus is less unusual for this campus than it would be for others. People there are used to learning practical skills as part of their college experience.

My libertarian streak made me do a double take at the thought of mandatory “patriotic education,” private school or no, but hey. If your kid’s going to get indoctrinated at college, what would you rather have them indoctrinated in? Respect for America and its military or the idea that math is racist?

“We think understanding the military now is more important than ever because we have 99 percent of the population being defended by 1 percent, who are in uniform,” [President Jerry Davis] said. “We should be more intentional about patriotic education and from our point of view that needs to occur from kindergarten all the way through college.”…

“If we don’t pay attention to this type of education there is a danger that within a few generations, we’ll have a population that doesn’t understand its own country or believe that anything is worth fighting for,” he said. “We think this is a good example to others.”

Students enrolled in the six sections of the course gathered on the lawn Monday, lining up in formation, as a showcase for the campus and media outlets.

It’s hard to tell from the write-ups how much class time is allotted to civics versus military traditions and military skills. The school notes that students will receive lessons on “map reading, land navigation, rifle marksmanship, rope knotting, and rappelling.” (Rappelling?) But they’ll also cover “American government and politics, modern military customs and courtesies, and flag protocol and procedures.” Civic education is badly needed on college campuses but this seems geared less towards matters like separation of powers and the Bill of Rights than an ROTC-lite intro to military life. The class is categorized “military science,” in fact, not civics. It also comes just a month after the school announced that it won’t play sports against other schools whose athletes kneel for the national anthem. It seems more nationalist than constitutionalist, or more Roy Moore than Ben Sasse, shall we say.

Look at it this way, though. If the bad kids are doing abbreviated basic training, the good kids had better do it too.