Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thoughts on the Pledge of Allegience

I had two very different views on the pledge in my inbox this morning. The first was from Strike the Root, The Free Person's Pledge. The second was from Home School Solutions, New Pledge of Allegiance?

At Strike the Root, Jason begins by saying:

Pledging allegiance to the flag always bothered me, as far back as grade school. There's the obvious paranoia stuff, about young people being compelled by law to attend and by routine to pledge to institution-established symbols; that picture above is opportunistic and coincidental, but perfect. But let's pretend we're in need of a daily collective pledge. Can't we come up with a better one?

And concludes with:
Liberty and justice are the ideal objects of glory, and governments are at best just means to those ends, no matter how many symbols they throw at us. There is much justice in America , but hardly justice for all, and all the baby eagles nesting in dollar bills on Lady Liberty's torch won't ever change that.

"I pledge allegiance to liberty and justice for all." What better resolution to daily swear?

I really liked that. :) Short and to the point.

Then over at Home School Solutions, Mrs. Sherry says:

As Thanksgiving approaches, there's no better time to reflect on the values from which our country was founded. As homeschoolers, it's sometimes easy to neglect the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Our pledge to the American flag is just a small way we can give honor to God for his providential protection of our country. Today, as you read the article below, I hope you are motivated to press your right hand a little more firmly to your heart as you lead your kids in an American tradition that may one day be obsolete if we take it for granted.

Um, we don't recite the pledge in our home to begin with . . . Do people without children at home pledge to the flag before they go off to work? And by the way, this "tradition" is younger than the "tradition" of compulsory education in the US. She also implies that the pledge is really an "honor to God," and doesn't have anything to do with our nation itself. So the pledge is actually an American tradition of honoring God? I'm confused.

Then she includes this article:

Globalist Pledge of Allegiance in U.S. School
October 2007
Distributed by http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/
By Kerby Anderson

"I pledge allegiance to the flag and my constitutional rights with which it comes. And to the diversity, in which our nation stands, one nation, part of one planet, with liberty, freedom, choice and justice for all.”

If that doesn’t exactly sound like the pledge of allegiance, you would be correct. But that is the pledge that some students are saying at Boulder High School. More than four dozen students have been participating in a “pledge protest” in the school courtyard.The protest is motivated by many reasons but the principle criticism from the students is that the current pledge of allegiance violates the so-called “separation of church and state.” Of course, we have heard that argument before from atheist Michael Newdow and the judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Etc, etc. I don't see how it's "globalist" if the kids are still pledging allegiance to the flag of the US and the constitutional rights of the US. There isn't a global flag, that I'm aware of (ok, I just Googled it, and I was wrong, there is, and there's even this interesting video about a global flag song), nor are there global constitutional rights. They talk about "our nation, one nation." I thought the students had done a nice job with their alternate pledge. Although I'd have taken the "flag" out, because while I love my country and the flag is a great symbol of it, that's all it is, a symbol--as the current pledge states, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands." Why not just pledge allegiance to the Republic, or the Constitution, for that matter? So I'd have just said "I pledge allegiance to my constitutional rights . . ."

Anderson says later in his quoted article:
Well, isn’t it amazing how far we have come in fifty years? Back in 1954, Congress added the words “under God” to the pledge in order to acknowledge God’s providence and protection of the United States of America.

Funny, I thought they'd added "under God" because the US govt wanted to further divide us from the "atheist" Soviet Union during the Cold War. From Wikipedia:

More specific objections have been raised since the addition of the phrase under God to the Pledge. 1954, the year of its addition, also held the height of the Cold War anti-communist movement in the United States. Anti-communist ideology in the U.S. frequently identified the Soviet states with atheism; the House were still seeking to expose "godless Communist" infiltrators. The fall of the Soviet Union and the aftermath of the religiously motivated 9/11 terrorist attacks have made the phrase under God less timely than it was in 1954.

[ . . .]

In addition, some critics assert that the under God clause seriously weakens the Pledge of Allegiance; they claim that the religious can view the phrase as an out-clause, qualifying their pledge, so that their allegiance is only binding when the nation acts in accordance with their perception of God's will.

That's pretty interesting. More history, from The Pledge of Allegiance, A Short History, by Dr. John W. Baer, Copyright 1992 by Dr. John W. Baer:

Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. He was a Christian Socialist.

Francis Bellamy in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with political, social and economic equality for all. The government would run a peace time economy similar to our present military industrial complex.

The Pledge was published in the September 8th issue of The Youth's Companion, the leading family magazine and the Reader's Digest of its day. Its owner and editor, Daniel Ford, had hired Francis in 1891 as his assistant when Francis was pressured into leaving his baptist church in Boston because of his socialist sermons. As a member of his congregation, Ford had enjoyed Francis's sermons.

His original Pledge read as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ]

In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change. He had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.

What follows is Bellamy's own account of some of the thoughts that went through his mind in August, 1892, as he picked the words of his Pledge:

It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution...with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people...

The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands.' ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?

Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity.' No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all...

So it was written by a socialist, but the "under God" bit was added, in part, to separate us from the communists. From an article at enotes.com titled "What Is The Difference Between Socialism And Communism?":

Socialism and communism are both economic systems (the production, distribution, and use of wealth) that require that goods be owned in common, instead of privately. The difference between the two systems is in the fact that socialism covers a wide range of political systems, including communism, whereas communism is a strict interpretation of socialism. While socialism advocates communal ownership of industry, it does so in two ways: either in the form of state ownership or else in the form of ownership by the workers themselves. Communism, on the other hand, allows for only one form of the communal endeavor: state ownership through a small group of political elite. Communism also goes one step further than socialism in that the Communist state not only controls the economy, but all areas of society.

So why didn't the leaders at the time (1954) feel they should scrap the original pledge and come up with a new one, not associated with a socialist? Maybe they didn't know it's history. I think it's kind of funny.

As a libertarian, I disagree with forcing someone to pledge their allegiance to begin with. If I want to, I will; if I don't, I won't. And forcing someone, especially a child in a school he's forced to be attending, to parrot a pledge he may not agree with or doesn't fully understand, isn't going to make it mean anything.

If pledging your allegiance to something means you are loyal to it, that you support it, then wouldn't that mean that if someone in the US has pledged their allegiance "to the Republic," and then goes to a war protest, they're violating their pledge? What happened to "liberty?" The pledge negates itself by it's very being.

Maybe I'll just propose this one: "I pledge to pursue liberty and justice for all."

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