Pledge of Allegiance is UnAmerican

Much is being made in my town of a selectman failing to open a meeting of the Board of Selectmen with the Pledge of Allegiance, a policy that is only a little over two years old.

Her oversight was not principled. She was chairing the meeting and running late and decided to skip the pledge. Her only previous demurral regarding the pledge was that she was not comfortable with the phrase ‘under God’ and wouldn’t be saying those two words.

But for skipping the pledge at the meeting she chaired she has been vilified publicly and privately, and subjected to hate mail, death threats, and who knows what else. She was essentially browbeaten into making a public apology, an action strongly reminiscent of the public ‘confessions’ of dissenters and other miscreants under various communist regimes.

This town, Falmouth, Massachusetts, makes a big deal of  its public service committee called ‘No Place For Hate’. Apparently some kinds of hate are okay here.

I wish she had taken a principled stand and refused to speak the pledge or to stand for it when others babbled it.

The Pledge of Allegiance is a piece of unAmerican jingoism. More than that, it is a quasi-religious loyalty oath. It has no place in a diverse democracy of free citizens.

No one – no one – should be compelled by the state, by the law, by public peer pressure, or by petty public officials, as in Falmouth, to recite a public loyalty oath, nor to respect an oath that compels religious observance. Not in the United States.

Perhaps in petty dictatorships. Perhaps in fascist or communist states. Perhaps in authoritarian religious hierarchies among Christians, or Muslims, or Jews. Perhaps in the right-wing theocratic wet-dream nation the religious fundogelicals and the Tea Party desperately seek to create. But not here. Not here where dissent and the freedom of speech and thought were once among our highest values.

The Pledge is no more a sign of genuine patriotism than the flag lapel pins our Congressmen wear, or the flags being beaten up when attached to private cars wheeling around town, or the hateful, self-serving spewings of right-wing mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk over the publicly-owned broadcast spectrum. After all, no terrorist worth his salt would refuse to speak in public, loudly and proudly, the American pledge of allegiance if it served his purposes.

When authorities call for the Pledge to be spoken, you can stand up for conformism and thought control and incipient tyranny, or you can sit down for democracy, freedom, and a nation of law and fact-based reason.

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7 Responses

  1. There is a fine line between patriotism and religion. The line is often blurred, if not eradicated by people that place too much stock in blind faith and allegiance, without thinking about that faith or allegiance. Blind faith, like blind patriotism, has been used by authority to whip the masses into a mob, in order to manipulate them against their own best interests, since time immemorial.

    What is this allegiance we are supposed to pledge to a flag, a piece of cloth? I pay my taxes, with very little complaint (other than when the money is wasted on nonsense) because for the most part my taxes provide benefits I couldn’t provide myself. Roads reasonably paved, bridges that don’t fall down when I cross them, libraries where I can find books, a local government that provides police and fire protection. Imagine living in a country where you had to do without those things we take for granted. But I don’t enjoy them because I blindly mouth some simple platitude to a piece of cloth. I work hard to be able to provide the money to contribute to my country, because its a damn fine country, warts and all. I should not be shamed into lock-step blind beliefs with everyone else.

    This whole bit of nonsense reinforces my belief that patriotism is just another substitute for or form of religion, which really is about banding together in like company so we can do battle with the “others” who are not like us. If you don’t say the pledge, you’re branded as an “other” and when you find yourself in that category, people are free to stop treating you like a human being. The psychology here is so fuckin’ obvious, but everyone refuses to take off their blinders. Look at North Carolina yesterday. They just relegated 10% of their population into “other” category. Won’t be long before they start rounding up the gays and tying them to fence posts.

    And what’s this with Taxachoosits? I lived in that state the year that it was the only one that refused to vote for Nixon. I was proud to live in that state. You’re too close to Rhode Island I guess. Look how the nice people there treated Jessica Ahlquist.

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    • Religion and patriotism/nationalism are both forms of tribalism, which is what you desribed as being “about banding together in like company so we can do battle with the “others” who are not like us.” They’re both primitive ways of interacting with the world and people around us.

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      • That’s the word I kept grasping for, but the brain wasn’t finding it this morning. Thanks.

        Tribalism. Let’s all go back and live in the jungle. 😉

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        • How about the forest? Jungles are too hot and sweaty. Forests are much nicer.

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          • Yes. So…verdant.

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            • …and green too.

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