A Different Perspective on the Pledge

One nation indivisible

I just discovered a great short story over at Atheist Ethicist, entitled “A Perspective on the Pledge”. It puts the Pledge controversy in a different light. I highly recommend you check it out. He also has a PDF version you can download and pass out to all of your annoying relatives.

Here’s just one of the comments left by readers (This one is by somebody calling himself No More Mr. Nice Guy):

Personally, as someone who was born and raised outside the US, I think it’s bizarre that there is a [Pledge of Allegiance] at all. Apart from the US, only totalitarian states have this kind of mandatory patriotic exercise. (Yes I know in theory it’s not mandatory, but…) And I find it surreal that millions of children every day stand up and chant in unison about how free they are. [emphasis added]

6 Responses to “A Different Perspective on the Pledge”

  1. The Watcher Says:

    Oh God, it’s so true. When I was little, I knew there was something fishy about the Pledge, but I couldn’t verbalize what.

    Now I realize. It’s what this guy said.

  2. ericsan Says:

    So totally true. Born and raised outside of the US as well, it always shocked me how much indoctrination takes place in “the land of the free”. There seems to be a complete lack of critical thinking when it comes to issues related to national pride, and I guess we’ve seen it at work over the past few years; people are so blindly proud of their country and government that they just can’t accept they’ve been bamboozled by the leaders they trusted.

    On the other hand, France may have better education and no indoctrination, but the French still elected a Bush-like douchebag for president, so what does that tell you? People are just dumbasses, anywhere you go. Haven’t we had this discussion before, Ron? :)

  3. Brian Says:

    Nationalism (or patriotism, if you prefer) is one branch away from religion on the tree of ignorance. There are so many similarities between the two. There’s the demand for blind obedience. There’s a mandatory unwillingness to view history as it really is, not how one might like it to be. There is the belief that only the country (or religion) you belong to can do the right thing, and in a fortuitous convergence of the two, only your country has God on its side. To this odious pair I would also add the less noxious, but nonetheless irritating, category of sports fanatic.

    There is clearly a boundary between being a zealot of one type or another and not being a zealot. This is, of course, an individual’s ability to think critically and use reason. Once a person summons the intellectual fortitude to utilize these abilities, there is no going back to the dim and bellicose world of anger and fear that typifies believers and patriots.

  4. Jr. Says:

    Well said by Mr. Fyfe.

    I can’t say it really genuinely bothers me that we do the pledge in the morning, but still, now that I think about it it seems to evoke McCarthyism. In a very dumbed down way, but still, why do you have to pledge yourself to a nation every day? We’re not weeding out anti-American commies anymore, though.

  5. Ron Britton Says:

    Brian:

    Blind patriotism being just one step away from religion explains a lot. I’ve always been mystified by how a lot of wing nuts on the right will accuse liberals of “hating America” if they say something contrary to the President’s agenda. How is trying to improve the country hating it? If I hated the country, I wouldn’t be trying to fix it. If your child falls off his bike and breaks his arm, do you put him back on the bike so he can break the other, or do you “hate” him and take him to the doctor?

    In the fundie mindset, there is no room for a non-literal translation of the Bible. In the extreme-Republican mindset of blind patriotism, there is no room for constructive criticism.

  6. Troy Says:

    Where do I begin on the Pledge? The pledge is to the republic for which the flag stands; yet these children have likely never read or if they did do not understand the constitution or the historical context. For that matter the words of the pledge aren’t words children would use. What it is then is a civil mantra. Sort of a mindless prayer to the country with the flag standing in for prayer beads. The “Under God” addition is of course even more pernicious, and my understanding is the author of the pledge’s family opposed the change. Not only that the “Under God” phrase isn’t constitutional. There is no part of the constitution that institutes theocracy.
    I advocate instead of a pledge to the flag a daily constitution reading (with explanation). Such action would in fact serve the de facto purpose of the pledge in getting the students functioning as a class and directing their attention beyond their own individual conversations. It also would also possibly help correct the woeful amount of ignorance about the constitution.