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Cactus
24th Nov 2001, 10:18 PM
Political rant number 1: Pledge of Allegiance.

I was reading an article by Marc Singer in the New Yorker today. I was in a doctor’s office waiting to get an x-ray for my hand to detect the remnants of glass from my act of stupidity several months ago, the circumstances of which I shan’t here repeat. The article’s background was this: in early 1999, Wisconsin adopted a law (a rider to its annual budget bill) which decreed that every school day was to begin with the pledge of allegiance. Of course in the interest of fairness, I am reporting this as factually as I can from this article: the bill called for either the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem to be recited or sang, each day. This all happened before 9-11.

The law stipulated that “No pupil may be compelled against the pupil’s objections or those of the pupil’s parents or guardian to recite the pledge or sing the anthem.” Something I think is a fair statement, however, 9-11 happened, and as did the following: parents apprehensive about the new rules called in, and came to a school board meeting which roughly outlined the opposition’s points, firstly the reference to God, a God, a single, God, etc. the usual jargon. Also, the feisty nature of the national anthem and its militaristic attitude was offensive to those who were devoutly non-violent. Lastly there was the argument that the law was basically “an unsubtle form of coercion, one that smacked of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths and defined patriotic self-expression in narrow and unimaginative terms.”

The board in Madison Wisconsin, basically voted that every school could offer, every day, a wordless instrumental version of the national anthem. Which allows expressions of patriotism without the necessarily violent militarism of the anthem, or the conflict of church and state in the use of “God” in the pledge. Which again, I think is a prudent and acceptable act in wake of 9-11.

The following day, the spin doctors got to work, pasting headlines reading “PLEDGE BANNED IN CITY SCHOOLS.” Which firstly I consider a misinterpretation of the actions of the board which was to produce a less offensive, more diverse, and over-all, broader, and inclusive way to be patriotic, than the narrow version the original law called for. If anything, the board showed more tolerance and patriotism, and faith in what makes this country great, than anything that the pledge of allegiance could have done. Secondly, I find it to be offensive that journalists would in such an ugly fashion, misshape the news to further their own political ideology.

What happened next hit me with a profound realization of who I am and where I stand. A new school board meeting was held, the auditorium packed with people chanting the pledge and shouting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” the exact resolution of the situation was less important than what had transpired there. During the recitation of the pledge, the entire audience stood, and the board, with the exception of 2 men, Bill Keys, and Shwaw Vang, a social worker, immigrant from Laos. Then during his three minute speech, Vang got up and said, and this is what really touched me, “ ‘As Americans, each of us has a right to do what he feels is right, and I have as much right as anyone else. I won’t be forced to do something against my will. That’s a right I have as a citizen. I also believe in the Pledge of Allegiance. I say it because I believe in it, and when I want to say it – not because a group of people forces me to say it. Now I’m going ot say the pledge. I invite everyone to stand and say it with me. Those who don’t want to do so, I respect your right not to, and I hope you have the courage to remain seated.’ Whereupon he faced an American flag, stage right, and, along with virtually the entire audience and all the other school-board members except Keys, recited the pledge.”

Later a local radio shock-jock taunted Vang by saying, “You’ve been called Seesaw Shwaw. You’ve said ‘yea’ and ‘nay.’ You say the pledge promotes war, but this is not Vietnam – this is America.” For the record, Vang was Laotian, the son of an officer in a special guerilla unit funded by the CIA. And he later said, “… In Thailand or Laos, if the pledge or the national anthem is being said, no matter where you are you’d better stand up straight and salute. There’s a feeling of fear that goes with that, the fear of a government that wants to control every single move a person makes. In Laos you have ot have total respect for the government or you will be persecuted. Almost every Laotian teacher and student says the pledge, but does that teach them to be more patriotic, I don’t think so.”

I wrote a lot of other sh!t here which I later erased because it made my contentions unfocused. Basically my thoughts are this: the pledge itself is an act of formality that for existing students remains more of a formality than an actual act of an oath, if even such acts exist in our society any more. Secondly, I believe that it is wrong to indoctrinate this in young people before they know what “allegiance” or “pledge” means. To do so is dangerous. Every dictatorship had its pledge of allegiance, every evil empire. But the strongest argument I could give is the one Vang gave above. That if one believes in the pledge, one should say so out of his own accord, not because he was compelled to do so lest he appear unpatriotic.

This made me think long and hard about the pledge. In the current crisis, if I were asked to fight an enemy like Bin Laden, I would not hesitate to take up arms, answer the call. Bin Laden is an enemy of humanity, and humanity’s persistence in its own being, as well as its drive to better itself, drives me, as a member of the human race, to defend it against the new peril. However, I still will not take a pledge of allegiance. Ever since I’ve really thought about what the pledge meant, and could understand what “allegiance” is, I stopped saying the pledge, because I answer to a higher authority, a higher bond, the bond between men, not the bond to a government, a state. The bond between men is sacred, it passes through race, religion, nationality, it is the will to preserve civilization, the bond of brotherhood, the bond between everything that is good. It is less regional, less political, less territorial, and less temporal than the policy of any nation. I owe my allegiance to the brotherhood of the human race, who is not interested in power, domination or political ends, but in the end, in only what is right, what is fair and just. And while the aims of humanity and the aims of the United States are the same, I will gladly help the US achieve its goals, if I am called to fight, I will. I will defend this country, and I will defend humanity, because that is the right thing to do. But still, I will not take the pledge, because as an old Chinese saying goes, a man may not have two masters.

There are many times when I think the interests of humanity are at odds with the interests of the US, and rather in those times rescind my allegiance to the US, I won’t give it at all. I choose to serve the US with action, not vacant words. And I certainly respect other people’s right to say, or not to say the pledge of allegiance. If a person does so willingly, I can respect it. If he can do so having acknowledged all the atrocious acts the US has inflicted on other peoples in the name of its own interests, and then with a clear conscience recite the pledge, I think the man is a fool, but nevertheless I will not question his faith, I think it’s rather admirable. However, I don’t think something so grave as an oath, should be uttered without a full understanding of its commitment, and to force youngsters who are themselves too young to drink, or to drive, or to vote, to indoctrinate them with this coercion.

One argument I hear is, “if you don’t like this country, go back to China.” Well, I answer, who said I held an allegiance to China? My allegiance is to mankind, and everywhere man has set foot, that is my country. I will protect what is right, regardless of what country I’m in. that is my rant about the pledge of allegiance, I think I ranted about this before, but this article really made me think…

ice_viking
24th Nov 2001, 11:57 PM
I have yet to meet an adult who can demonstrate a mutually accepted understanding of 'The Pledge of Allegiance'. As adults not being able to comprehend the pledge how can we expect our children to vow, yet alone know what it means. We stand there with hand over heart and recite, not caring about it’s meaning, certainly not living it in our daily lives. It's just words because the person next to us is saying them!

I have a classroom picture taken in 1890 where school children are pictured saying the pledge and hailing OLD GLORY. That's right, raised little arms in Hail Caesar ... Nazi Salute!


:(

Twrecks
25th Nov 2001, 12:24 AM
The Flag of the United States of America has many meaning and represents different things to different ppl.
The Pledge of Allegiance has been around for a long time, late 1800's me thinks, and the words "under God" only added in the mid 50's. I contest that they, the two words "under God" don't belong and the author's inclusion of "equality" better suited to the true purpose behind the pledge.
I'm a firm believer in keeping State and Religion seperated by as much distance as possible. Bin Laden being a prime example of why, of course the Holy Inquision of the 16th century and so called Crusades a few centuries earlier should be enough for most educated ppl to see the dangers of religious driven States.
Might I also point out that the words of the Pledge do not condone any Military Dictatorship, in fact promote a Republic of States joined together as one Nation with Liberty and Justice for all. Hardly what any aspiring Hitler would want anyone chanting.
In respect for those objecting to the Pledge, I would like to remind them of a little document called the "Bill of Rights" and it's predicessor "the Declaration of Independance", again the word "equality" was left out, but that's another subject. The pledge should be a reminder of these important records of humanity. The pledge, nor the flag, is responsible for any negative actions taken abroad or domestically by our government or those acting by it's authority. Similar to judging the Nation of Islam by the actions of Bin Laden. So denying the pledge is more akin to denying human rights than protesting corruption. The Flag should be viewed as a banner of human rights and a badge of freedom. Those that hide behind this symbol to further their own gains should be brought down before it and not cause the flag to be burned, leaving behind those that should be condemned in the first place.
I view the flag, and the Pledge of Allegiance not as icons of patriotism, but rather, the identity of of idealism that was born to fly over the United States of America and the affirmation of that ideal. Those that believe our Military, Ecomony or Technology are the strengths of the USA should be reminded that they are by-products of what happens when we follow those "truths that are self evidant", and that a Federal Government and the Republic of States are means to safe gaurd the ppl under them against injustice through a system of checks and balances. What isn't as clear is that these same ideals should not be denied those not living under "Old Glory" and that the "Star Spangled Banner" be made of the night sky and supported by the fabric of all mankind. The notions of "Equality", "Freedom" and "Justice" are not just for Americans, they belong to everyone. They do not promote a Social Welfare State, but refer to the standing of idividuals under the law. The ppl make the laws and give the government the power to enforce it. The pledge is an echo of that consent and more importantly the dream behind it.

SpiritWalker
25th Nov 2001, 01:41 AM
I am agreeing with Cactus, but staying out of the "whys"

Frostblood
25th Nov 2001, 02:44 AM
Can children really understand what the pledge of allegiance is actually about? Can they ( more to the point ) understand why they are singing it? Schools should educate people about the history of america and what it all means before they expect children to start saluting their country.

SpiritWalker
25th Nov 2001, 02:53 AM
it's kinda like being a bigot... if you are taught early enough, you think that it's right..
if you can teach somebody to do something BEFORE they know why they are doing it.. they are least likely to question "why", and possibly search for another way..

Frostblood
25th Nov 2001, 03:10 AM
Yeah...dont get me wrong, i'm not one of those anti-authoritarian punks we all love to laugh at, but the flag worship which is so prevalent in America is pointless : 5 and 6 year olds probablly dont even know what the word "allegience" means, let alone "freedom","democracy" or whatever else is behind it, and those that do shouldn't need to recite an oath to prove it.

Cactus
25th Nov 2001, 01:43 PM
i think it's a delicate balance, becasue if people from very young are taught say, the cherokee indians' trail of tears, it's quite a traumatic thing... but it must be taught. at maybe the 8th, 9th or 10th grade, the truth must be taught, and then should they be given the option to pledge.

diddlysquat
25th Nov 2001, 01:43 PM
What pledge, do you mean this one?

I pledge allegience to the fag,
and the transvestite for whom he stands.
One notion, undenied
with Liberace and juicy fruits
for all
Amen

Nothing offensive in that which I see.

Frostblood
25th Nov 2001, 02:40 PM
Originally posted by Cactus
i think it's a delicate balance, becasue if people from very young are taught say, the cherokee indians' trail of tears, it's quite a traumatic thing... but it must be taught. at maybe the 8th, 9th or 10th grade, the truth must be taught, and then should they be given the option to pledge.

I agree...it should all be optional and they should be taught the history and issues behind it before they start reciting anything.

Evil_Cope
25th Nov 2001, 05:42 PM
Originally posted by Cactus
One argument I hear is, “if you don’t like this country, go back to China.” Well, I answer, who said I held an allegiance to China? My allegiance is to mankind, and everywhere man has set foot, that is my country. I will protect what is right, regardless of what country I’m in. that is my rant about the pledge of allegiance, I think I ranted about this before, but this article really made me think…

AMmayhem
25th Nov 2001, 06:23 PM
There was a Supreme Court case (can't remember the name right off) that we talked about in my government class. The case was about a state law that required students to say the Pledge. The Supreme Court said that the schools still could have the Pledge every morning, but couldn't force students to say it if it was against their religious belief, etc. This case occured sometime either in the 70's or 80's.

Twrecks
25th Nov 2001, 09:12 PM
Originally posted by Frostblood
Can children really understand what the pledge of allegiance is actually about? Can they ( more to the point ) understand why they are singing it? Schools should educate people about the history of america and what it all means before they expect children to start saluting their country.

You mean all that BS like "Jonny Trumain", "The Boston Tea Party" and "Paul Revere". The films and books I saw as a youth totally distorted the so called "truth". The history they taught in schools was a joke. If they really want for kids to understand it would be better to teach French History to see the "why" behind the U.S. and the fact that the assasination of JFK was to further Organized crime within our government and the Vietnam conflict was not a "Police Action" but a means for the Military-Industrial complex to get fat.

Its a shame so many miss the point of the pledge and the ideals the flag stands for. Ideals that take predicent over any stupid brain-washing religion. Which is the only reason they (religion) object cause it might take power from their twisted versions of the truth. Yea, it's easy to be disallusioned be the hypocracy of our Government and the evils commited by its hand. Sure, but in the end the media and it's interests can also be found at fault which in turn revolve around religious alliances. Its all about money folks, the control and ditribution of money. Control over currancy and trade was what the Civil War was about, Its why Hitler persicuted the Jews and Socialist Russia went atheist. To blur the ideals and mask the true intent of our founding fathers with debate over religious involvment in the pledge and the flag somehow is a patriotic therefore facist symbol is all a smokescreen. Dammit, JC was put on the cross because he wanted to abolish the church and spread human rights. If you think what attrocities have been commited under the Cross, it should have been burnt 2000 years ago. But it is the ideals that the cross stands for that is everlasting, and hopefully for future generations the same will hold true for the Flag. Amen.

Cactus
25th Nov 2001, 09:52 PM
bravo.

it's the thought that counts, not the actions. religion itself has degenerated into a conglomeration of empty rituals around little or no faith at all.

a salute every morning diminishes the value of the salute, a gift every day diminish the value of giving. one should do it only when they mean it.

Claw
25th Nov 2001, 10:07 PM
Originally posted by Cactus
(...) I answer to a higher authority, a higher bond, the bond between men, not the bond to a government, a state. The bond between men is sacred, it passes through race, religion, nationality, it is the will to preserve civilization, the bond of brotherhood, the bond between everything that is good. It is less regional, less political, less territorial, and less temporal than the policy of any nation. I owe my allegiance to the brotherhood of the human race, who is not interested in power, domination or political ends, but in the end, in only what is right, what is fair and just.


Way to go :)

Claw
25th Nov 2001, 10:16 PM
Originally posted by ice_viking
I have a classroom picture taken in 1890 where school children are pictured saying the pledge and hailing OLD GLORY. That's right, raised little arms in Hail Caesar ... Nazi Salute!
:(

Now that's really unfair: Just 'cos the Nazis's used it they don't own it. It constantly irritates me how the Nazis tained perfectly good symbolism... I sometimes feel an urge to hail just to express my irritation

/me salutes. SALVE dammit!

That's freedom...

Frostblood
26th Nov 2001, 02:15 PM
"One argument I hear is, if you don t like this country, go back to China. Well, I answer, who said I held an allegiance to China? My allegiance is to mankind, and everywhere man has set foot, that is my country. I will protect what is right, regardless of what country I m in. that is my rant about the pledge of allegiance, I think I ranted about this before, but this article really made me think"

Very true of course.

Twrecks : thats what i was getting at. Teach people the history behind it and then let them decide whether to pledge allegiance to their country once they've been informed.

Now, while most of the problems of the world can be attributed to money, I dont think Nazism is one of them...from all i've heard Hitler was simply a stupid madman ( he believed that the Spear of Longuninius would bring him victory...this was the spear that was thrust into the side of Jesus...and he was killing 6 millions Jews at the time...insane? ) with a talent for public speaking. I think he genuinely believed that the Jews were responsible for all the evils of the world and wanted to eliminate them. Stalin wanted power, not money, since it had been abolished, although this is essentially the same.