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I Hate The Pledge of Allegiance

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I hate the hypocrisy of it, I hate the forced nationalism that it indoctrinates our youth with and I hate a national allegiance that claims we are one nation under a mythical God.  One of the privileges of being an American is, supposedly, being free without constraints.  One has the same amount of freedoms whether one utters a pledge of allegiance or not.  Having school children recite it daily with all of the contradictions and hypocrisies that it contains glosses over the very real issues of true “liberty and justice” for all and fills children’s heads with a false reality of who we really are as a nation.

How many times was the pledge of allegiance regurgitated with tens of thousands of school children bleating out “liberty and justice for all” when blacks were second class citizens, when women did not have the vote, when other minorities from Japanese-Americans to atheists were denied “liberty and justice?”

It seems that one young school boy has seen another bit of hypocrisy in our mindless pledge.  The Arkansas Times reports:

A Boy And His Flag

Why he won’t pledge

Will Phillips isn’t like other boys his age.

For one thing, he’s smart. Scary smart. A student in the West Fork School District in Washington County, he skipped a grade this year, going directly from the third to the fifth. When his family goes for a drive, discussions are much more apt to be about Teddy Roosevelt and terraforming Mars than they are about Spongebob Squarepants and what’s playing on Radio Disney.

It was during one of those drives that the discussion turned to the pledge of allegiance and what it means. Laura Phillips is Will’s mother. “Yes, my son is 10,” she said. “But he’s probably more aware of the meaning of the pledge than a lot of adults. He’s not just doing it rote recitation. We raised him to be aware of what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s fair.”

And therein lies the rub.  The “fair” part.

Will’s family has a number of gay friends. In recent years, Laura Phillips said, they’ve been trying to be a straight ally to the gay community, going to the pride parades and standing up for the rights of their gay and lesbian neighbors. They’ve been especially dismayed by the effort to take away the rights of homosexuals – the right to marry, and the right to adopt. Given that, Will immediately saw a problem with the pledge of allegiance.

“I’ve always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.”

And, young Will, there never has been.  Since the day of our Declaration of Independence the statement that “all men are created equal” was a lie.  In over two hundred years the lie still remains.  And of course the results of this young mans awareness and exercise in his freedom to not stand and recite the pledge is met with the usual ignorance of what being free is really about:

They [the kids who don’t support him] are much more crazy, and out of control and vocal about it than supporters are.”

Given that his protest is over the rights of gays and lesbians, the taunts have taken a predictable bent. “In the lunchroom and in the hallway, they’ve been making comments and doing pranks, and calling me gay,” he said. “It’s always the same people, walking up and calling me a gaywad.”

I suppose in other days he would be called a “Nigger lover” or a “Jap lover” or whatever.  Instead of an honest reflection on what this fellow is standing up for (or sitting down for), the rights of all citizens and not just those that are recognized by certain segments of society,  the already-indoctrinated in hate classmates propagate their parents prejudices.  This young man, though, has got it spot on and is on the same sheet of music with me in regard what it means to be an American:

At the end of our interview, I ask young Will a question that might be a civics test nightmare for your average 10-year-old. Will’s answer, though, is good enough — simple enough, true enough — to give me a little rush of goose pimples.  What does being an American mean?

“Freedom of speech,” Will says, without even stopping to think. “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.”

And reciting some mindless pledge by rote does not reinforce that.  In fact it inhibits that expression.  My hat is off to this young man and his understanding of what it really means to be an American.

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