Rethinking the Pledge of Allegiance

I ran across this cartoon on Facebook and it prompted a discussion that I thought I should share here.

My response to some of the dogmatic statements in support of it was as follows:

Hey, folks, I have some objections to the pledge that have nothing to do with religion. Have you ever REALLY thought through those words? Also, this cartoon might suggest to the not-thinking-deeply crowd that all wars about about “defending our rights”. The fact of the matter is that very FEW of them have anything to do with defending our rights. Take Iraq, for instance. What did that have to do with my right not to like our Pledge of Allegiance?

And what I got in response to that comment was this:

…and here’s Jack…exercising some FREEDOM…enjoy!

I took this to mean that my comments were being taken as in character with the unwilling teen in the cartoon, as well as an affirmation of the cartoon itself.  Since no one in that discussion seemed to care what objections I might have to the Pledge, the whole exchange emphasized for me the unthinking nature of the American political paradigms.  So I thought I should share my thoughts here—for all three of you who care to know!  (Yes, I’m waxing sarcastic!)

Anyway, what follows is my off-the-cuff iteration of thoughts that I’ve been forming for years.

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First of all, what’s the point of requiring anybody to take a pledge?  Freedom of speech includes freedom from being MADE to speak, and especially from being made to speak something you don’t agree with—whether you are an adult or a child.

Secondly, what’s the point of pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth?  That’s just weird.  If you really want to take a meaningful pledge, how about making it to the Constitution, or to truth or justice or liberty or the rule of law?

As to “one nation”, we used to be a union of multiple, sovereign nations (states), but Abraham Lincoln changed that illegally and with the needless death of about 600,000 people, which does not count the total war waged against the South and the total political subterfuge that occurred there afterwards.

As to “under God”, what if someone does not see any evidence that this nation is somehow “under God” and objects to this line on principle?  (And did you know that this line was not in the original version of the Pledge, but was added for political reasons in 1954?)

As to “indivisible”, this is wholly unconstitutional as there is no provision that prohibits a state from leaving the Union.  Indeed, the Tenth Amendment makes it plain that states have the power to do ANYTHING that is not prohibited to them by the Constitution.

As to “with liberty and justice for all”, this is total propaganda and is not even remotely true.  In fact, MOST of the political talk at FB is about injustice, inequality, and infringements on liberty.  So what if a person objects to the Pledge on the grounds that it is simply untrue and hypocritical?

And finally, to top it off with some prime irony, this pledge was written by a self-avowed Socialist.  How ironic that so many folks identifying themselves as capitalists and conservatives, etc. are so enamored with the Pledge, just as are many Democrats, who at least don’t say so often that they have a problem with socialism.

Oh, and one more thing.  I know that military folks take an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  But what percentage of them even READ the Constitution?  And when was the last time you saw soldiers taking action against those enemies of the Constitution that are employed in Washington?  It is an astounding oath, promising so much, and yet NEVER honored.  Instead, these folks go off to fight wars to break open new markets for the bankers and their darlings, and they CALL it “national defense”.  Iran poses no threat to my liberty.  Nor does Iraq, nor Afghanistan, nor whomever is on the agenda to attack next after all these.

Like the soldier’s pledge, the Pledge of Allegiance is an exercise in hypocrisy.  Millions and millions of recitations of the Pledge do nothing to make good citizens of those who recite it.  Indeed, does reciting the pledge stop people from voting for scoundrels and tyrants who work against “liberty and justice for all”?  Does reciting the Pledge to the flag make people quit working against “the Republic for which it stands”?  Does it make them stop taking illegal entitlements from the government or surrender their jobs in unlawful government agencies?  Does it make them resign their membership in corrupt political parties?  Does it make them shun the twisted historical propaganda they learned in school and become devoted students of accurate history instead?

No.  It does none of these things.  It doesn’t make anybody into a better citizen any more than reciting the Lord’s Prayer on Sundays makes one a better Christian.  Even so, however, this darling Pledge is a poster child for the casual activist.  It’s an easy focus piece by which to gauge how the country is gone to pot.  They’ll say things like, “It’s no wonder that we’re doing so badly since so many want to take God out of the Pledge”, as if we were a society of godly people who were being attacked from without by evil people whose strategy against our godliness is to alter the words of the Pledge.

Clearly, the hearts of Americans are not interested in upholding the rule of law under our own Constitution.  Nor are they interested in upholding the various principles laid out in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  How can I say this?  I say it because it’s obvious; if we were interested, we’d be doing it.  But say a word against that beloved Pledge and you’ll find all manner of people who magically transform into the role of pious protectors of principle as they defend that Pledge.

Are these philosophical giants who are always thinking about such things?  Hardly.  In fact, most of them would be surprised by the points of fact I’ve raised about the Pledge so far in this article.  These things have been in public view all along, yet most of these defenders of principle have never discovered them.  This just goes to show what a shallow exercise it can be, this political dogmatism that pretends to be an outcropping of deep principle when in fact it is little more than empty tradition and the pride that goes with it.

So this whole cartoon is a prime piece of political propaganda, intended to stir the flag-waving fervor instead of fact-based, principle-based debate.  And it works wonderfully on a great number of Americans.  There’s your “State of the Union Address” right there.  And how sad a state we are.

So for those who are offended at my lack of enthusiasm about the Pledge, I remind you that not everyone who disagrees with you on some position is a “Pinko Commie Bastard” or a “Dope Head” an “Ungrateful Heretic”.  No, some of us actually have well-considered positions that are difficult to cast off so easily.  You want to save the pledge in some desperate attempt to “hold ground”, but I’m not interested in holding our ground; I want to fix what ails us and return to the actual practice of all the founding principles.  You have no such thing in mind; you just want things to be like they were when you were kids.  But that was a far cry from where this country began and it doesn’t seem that you’ve figured that out yet.

This Pledge of yours would have been an aberration to the Founders.  They would have been appalled at the idea that citizens would be required or expected to take an oath of loyalty.  They would have scoffed at the idea that this is a “nation” and that it is “indivisible”.  How is it, then, that you boast of Washington and Jefferson and yet cling to this Pledge at the same time?  Some deeper thought is in order.

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