The Pledge of Allegiance

Mindless Minions Chanting

I do not say the Pledge of Allegiance and am against forcing children (or anyone) to say it for several reasons.

First of all, I do not feel allegiance to this country, so I will not pledge allegiance to this country. I pledge allegiance to my family and loved ones, to the principles of freedom from religious persectution and various other freedoms I won't list individually here. When this country acts in the interest of my loved ones (such as fighting to defeat a world power that would kill or enslave them, as in WWII), then I am with it and will fight for it. When this country acts to defend freedom for myself and others, I am with it also. However, this country often acts in direct opposition to the freedoms I hold dear, and it sometimes acts in ways that directly threaten those I love. As an example of both of these in one, when the US government wanted to send members of my family over to Vietnam to force our way of life on a poor, proud nation of people who'd just won their independence from the French, that was in direct conflict with both my convictions and the safety of my family and friends. Likewise, when the government tells me that I can't partake of one particular drug and may be locked in jail for the rest of my life if I do, then it is in direct violation of my individual rights.

Secondly, forcing someone to pledge something renders the entire pledge moot and void. A person cannot be forced to feel allegiance. A teacher telling a child she has to say the Pledge of Allegiance, is just like a mother telling her child she has to say she's sorry. The child may indeed apologize, but she isn't truly sorry. It's like Catholic parents who force their children to get confirmed.
Rather than making kids memorize a phrase and recite it mindlessly each morning like little automotons, we should teach them the ideals that this country was built on and stands for...teach them history, both the positive and negative things this country has done so that they can grow up to be thoughtful, productive citizens. But then, the government (whether it be communist, nazi, or a self-labeled "democracy" like the USA) would rather have its children grow into mindless automotons than thinking beings, wouldn't it?

Finally, the words of the Pledge of Allegiance themselves are of issue to me. They are untrue, and the phrase "under god" is an offront to one of the most important principles of this country: the separation of Church and State. This nation is not indivisible, as is and has been clearly displayed by its bifurcation over issues ranging from slavery and prohibition to abortion and the recitation of the pledge in schools. Liberty and Justice are also not available to everyone in this country, nor have they ever been. Anyone who honestly thinks this is the case is seriously deluded.

In short, I do NOT pledge allegiance to any country that imprisons people for victimless "crimes" like smoking a joint or paying for sex, all the while letting real criminals go free. I do not pledge allegiance to a country that publically espouses democracy while secretly overthrowing elected governments elsewhere (check your history books, people). I do not pledge allegiance to a country that withholds sex education, will not make birth control readily available, and all but condones violence against family planning institutions, all while more than 120,000 children wait to be adopted. I do not pledge allegiance to a nation where tens of thousands of people are gunned down each year and nothing is done to stop the massacre because a terrorist group (the NRA) has half of Congress in its hip pocket. And I will not pledge allegiance to a country that forces children to say a hypocritical and dishonest pledge in an attempt to brainwash them into mindless minions.

When we see films of young German kids giving the Nazi salute, we all feel revulsion at the sick sight of children brainwashed into nationalistic automatons...yet how is it any different from our kids being forced to say the pledge of allegiance in school? It's not. The situation reminds me of the following quote by Mark Twain:
"We teach [our childre] to take their patriotism at second-hand; to shout with the largest crowd without examining into the right or wrong of the matter--exactly as boys under monarchies are taught and have always been taught. We teach them to regard as traitors, and hold in aversion and contempt, such as do not shout with the crowd, and so here in our democracy we are cheering a thing which of all things is most foreign to it and out of place--the delivery of our political conscience into somebody else's keeping."

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