For T.C. Morgan (letter April 1), being a citizen of the United States is all about loyalty, no matter whether the leadership is "right or wrong." (One wonders whether he felt the same way when Bill Clinton was president.)
Morgan quotes Teddy Roosevelt: "We can have no 50-50 allegiance." But Roosevelt's concept of allegiance differs from Mr. Morgan's. Roosevelt also said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
Like the constitutional framers, Roosevelt understood that one can be "an American and nothing else" and still properly criticize one's leaders. He knew that loyalty is an important democratic principle, but that the truth is infinitely more important. Thus, the framers wrote the First Amendment.
Abraham Lincoln understood that democracy sometimes requires that we choose truth over loyalty to leaders. Honest Abe said, "Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong."
Charles M. Ashley