To Pledge or Not to Pledge

I attended a public meeting last night as I do from time to time. It’s a bad habit I can’t seem to shake. Like many of the more formal public meetings in this country, it started with the Pledge of Allegiance. (Foreign readers may not know that this is a 31-word quasi loyalty oath of allegiance to “the flag.”) When the time comes, everyone is supposed to stand, put their heart on their hand, face the flag, and recite the Pledge in unison, which is drummed into all schoolchildren.

My policy during the last several years has been to stand and remain silent with my hands at my side. I don’t make a spectacle of myself by staying seated, but I’m not willing to say the Pledge, for several reasons.

  • It’s too much like religion, and not just because of the “Under God” phrase
  • I don’t like feeling like a sheep following the herd
  • I don’t like the implication that we should bow and scrape to our rulers

Plenty of people would brand me a traitor for my attitude, an ingrate who doesn’t appreciate the benefits of living in the good ol’ U.S.A. In fact, I am quite grateful that I live in the U.S.A. because

  • I grew up in this culture and feel a part of it (omitting rock “music”)
  • The land is beautiful
  • Our politicians are less rapacious than in some other countries
  • We still have a reservoir of individualist sentiment that resists the “Progressives” and the neocons and their relentless push for a made-in-America brand of fascism
  • The libertarian movement has grown enormously in the years since 1971 when I signed on

I do indeed feel some kind of loyalty to the land and the people. But not to the government. And to swear allegiance to the Constitution, as the newly elected councilmen did last night, is a farce because the Constitution was shredded years ago, starting with Abraham Lincoln and perhaps earlier. At the federal level, they swear allegiance to the Constitution and then turn around and spit on it.

But wait, you might say, if you’re loyal to the people you have to be loyal to the government because we elect our leaders. But that’s a slender thread indeed. The government is controlled by unelected bureaucrats and powerful special interests. The government is not “the people.”

So, with only the mildest misgivings, I’ll go on boycotting the Pledge.

10 thoughts on “To Pledge or Not to Pledge

  1. I agree with you, and I follow exactly the same policy re the Pledge (and the National Anthem). I feel guilty about it, though–I object to the very idea of rising for the pledge at all, and yet, wimp-lamb that I am, I stand along with everyone else. Why would it be a “spectacle” if I just quietly sat in my seat and watched everyone else say the Pledge? I’m not reciting it, so why stand for it? There’s something pathetic about the polite person’s solicitude for everyone else’s feelings. But politeness is as addictive as any drug.

    I had to chuckle at the rock music reference, incidentally. I’m afraid rock music is dead, and has been for about two decades now. It’s an antiquarian interest, like Bach or Palestrina. Here’s the Billboard Top 100. I don’t think a single song on it qualifies as rock.

    • I just don’t care to answer questions about why I stay seated. As for music, rock or whatever followed rock are all the same to me. 😉

  2. I don’t see why we need any pledge at all. I say teach children (1) don’t hit the other children and (2) don’t take their stuff. Those two ethical principles, refined and interpreted, should carry them through adulthood and if widespread, generate peace and prosperity.

    The revision is a nice try, but most existing statutes don’t respect rights so there’s a contradiction.

  3. There are even more reasons to refrain from taking a rote loyalty oath to a piece of cloth, or a nation, but this is a good summary of what I believe. Since about the 5th grade I’ve stood silently. I stand to acknowledge a shared feeling about what is good in America, and have been prepared to explain why I don’t recite the oath. But in all that time, no 5th grader nor adult since, has ever remarked on it, nor apparently even noticed, so meaningless is the ritual to those who participate in it.

  4. I couldn’t resist quoting this item from today’s New York Times:

    The basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf became a flash point for controversy in 1996 when, playing for the Denver Nuggets, he declined to stand for the national anthem, citing American military aggression around the world.

    “You can’t be for God and for oppression,” he said. “It’s clear in the Quran: Islam is the only way. I don’t criticize those who stand, so don’t criticize me for sitting. I won’t waver from my decision.”

    After a brief suspension, he worked out a compromise that he would stand during the anthem but look downward and recite a Muslim prayer.

    From a conventional patriotic standpoint, you’d think the compromise was worse than what it replaced.

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