Quantcast

«

»

Jun 11 2014

A poll with hubris!

It’s not so much the stupidity of this poll as it is the blithe arrogance of it.

For several years the debate has raged on between Conservatives and Liberals about two words in the Pledge Of Allegiance.

These words are, “Under God”.

Let’s settle this debate today.

With an online poll. On a little-known website. Right.

POLL: Should “Under God” Stay In The Pledge Of Allegiance?

Yes 84%
No 16%

So if those numbers change, will the people at that website then just say, “Well, it’s settled then. I guess we’ll stop saying “under god.”? If they stay the same, will you atheists consider the issue resolved and resign yourself to praising god?

65 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Anri

    Pity we can’t require they specify a god before our agreeing to praise it or not.

  2. 2
    Gerard O

    There seems to be some doubts as to whether Lincoln used the term “under God” in the Gettysburg Address – some sources include it, some don’t. Does anyone know the truth? Lincoln seemed to be a doubter, particularly in his early years.

  3. 3
    thepianoman2020

    The Gettsyburg Address has a few different versions. If I’m not mistaken, the original draft does not use the phrase “under God.”

  4. 4
    opposablethumbs

    For some reason the voting buttons don’t display for me, but I can see where my cursor “turns into” the hand. So would anybody mind letting me know which is on the right of the screen and which is to the left out of the yes and no options? Ta very much!

  5. 5
    gog

    Do secessionists balk at saying “indivisible?” I’ve always wondered.

  6. 6
    steve oberski

    Some great comments over at “freedom” “press”:

    America is a melting pot theists, stop pissing in it.

  7. 7
    Alan Boyle

    As a Brit, I’m curious as to what Pharyngulite Americans feel about the pledge in general. We don’t really have anything comparable here, and the closest analogy I can think of is of organized prayer. The difference is, of course, that you’re pledging allegiance to a flag instead of a God. I understand that the flag is meant to represent the ideals of America in general, but to me as an outsider it looks more like a tool for promoting blind patriotism and exceptionalism rather than many of the ideas that are theoretically the nation’s core values.

  8. 8
    Alan Boyle

    So would anybody mind letting me know which is on the right of the screen and which is to the left out of the yes and no options?

    No is on the right.

  9. 9
    AsqJames

    @ opposablethumbs,

    “No” is the one on the right

  10. 10
    Anders Kehlet

    #7 Alan Boyle: Yeah, I’m curious too. As a Dane, all that pledging weirds me out.

  11. 11
    Ishikiri

    Now 65% yes, 35% no. Hijack harder, people!

  12. 12
    davidnangle

    Alan Boyle and Anders Kehlet, I’m an American, so I had to repeat that pledge year after year, and it weirds me out, too. The pledge was actually to the flag, and not even the country.

    And it carried forth into the debate about flag burning. The debate about what’s more important: The symbol or what the symbol symbolizes.

  13. 13
    karmacat

    As an American, the pledge weirds me out too. The phrase “for which it stands” always confused me as a young child. I always wondered why they were talking about witches

  14. 14
    ledasmom

    The pledge has always bothered me, at least since I took a good hard look at it. I don’t care how much the flag is symbolic of the country, the flag is not the country and I’m not pledging my allegiance to a piece of cloth, under god or not. I don’t ask anyone else to share my opinion, but I personally do not ever say the pledge in any version.

  15. 15
    SallyStrange

    Anders & Alan: As an American Pharyngulite, I can tell you that I fucking hate the pledge and so does most everyone I know. Keeping in mind that I tend to socialize with USA versions of radicals and lefties, but even when I was in primary and secondary school, there was nobody who really loved it. It’s so brainwash-y.

  16. 16
    gog

    @ Alan Boyle #7 RE: Blind patriotism

    Wisconsin statute 118.06(2) has two versions. The original version from 1993 required the pledge to be recited in all public schools at the start of the day at least once a week for grades K-8. In 2001 it was amended to require it every day for all grade levels. There’s a notable exception for “religious doctrines” in private schools.

    Clearly, the amended law in 2001 is your standard jingoistic post-9/11 posturing. I remember when it was enacted; I started refusing to stand and received a bit of harassment from my peers and teachers alike. Some students started loudly shouting the “UNDER GOD” part at me (knowing I was an atheist) and would finish off with “AMEN!” So it’s not only some tool to get people’s nationalism to a fever pitch, but there’s also an undeniable religious bent, as with just-about-fucking-everything in this country.

    TL;DR: the pledge is a barely-concealed political and religious tool.

  17. 17
    Doug Little

    They should eliminate the pledge altogether it’s just authoritarian bullshit that means nothing.

  18. 18
    karmacat

    I had a classmate in college who was against flag burning. He is very smart, but couldn’t understand that freedom of expression is more important than a piece of cloth. You can always make more flags but there is only one constitution

  19. 19
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Whacked the poll with each browser on my iMac. When I get into work, again with each browser.

  20. 20
    gog

    You know what, I was wrong. The date of enactment for the 2001 version of the pledge law is August 30, 2001. It’s not related to 9/11, but certainly 9/11 had an effect on the way it was perceived.

  21. 21
    PZ Myers

    I detest the pledge, and stopped reciting it altogether when I was in junior high school.

    About the same time I gave up on the god nonsense, actually. It turns out that thinking undermines both religion and patriotism.

  22. 22
    SallyStrange

    By the time I was in high school, I was 100% uninterested in saying the pledge. My homeroom (the not-a-class class that we started every day with) teacher was a Vietnam vet. He told us at the beginning of the year that he didn’t mind if people didn’t want to say it, but he asked that, out of respect for his and others’ service, people at least stand up during it. So for four years, I stood silently and felt fucking weird every morning at the beginning of my school day.

    That was in the 90s, I get the impression that jingoism has taken hold in schools since 2001. Not surprising, that.

  23. 23
    gog

    I promise, this is all I have left to say about it:

    Wisconsin Legislature 2001 a.16 was an appropriations bill. The amendment to 118.06 was a rider.

  24. 24
    Alan Boyle

    Well that’s a pretty categorical answer to my question, thank you to everyone. I had a suspicion it wouldn’t sit well with the crowd round here.

    Though I now realise I wasn’t quite accurate when I said we didn’t have anything similar in Britain, because I just remembered it’s still actually a legal requirement to have an act of collective worship every day in schools. So our version of the pledge is actual prayer (or singing of hymns). In secondary schools (for ages 11+) the law tends to be completely ignored by a majority of institutions and my schools never arranged any at all during my seven years, which is why I didn’t think of the comparison originally.

  25. 25
    SallyStrange

    I was a high school exchange student in Belgium. They have no separation of church & state, so most schools are Catholic schools. Thus teachers had the discretion to make students stand and recite, “Au nom du pere et du fils et du saint-esprit, amen,” before every single class, not just at the beginning of the day.

    That was even weirder. Most of the teachers didn’t bother, but one–the French literature teacher–was insistent about it. Such a weird little man. I called him M. Ver-de-terre because he looked like a pasty white worm in a suit. With a wig.

    Worst class ever, it’s too bad, I would have liked to gain an appreciation of classical French literature.

  26. 26
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Just voted on it and it is now 57% Yes/ 43% No.

    As for reciting the pledge, it always struck me as similar to someone asking me to make a promise before telling me what I might be promising. Chances are if someone needs a promise or pledge first it’s not worth promising or pledging.

  27. 27
    Menyambal

    The elementary schools here in Missouri have all the students recite the pledge every morning. I find it very brainwashy.

    The fact it starts with the flag is confusing. Some places refer to it as the “flag salute”, even.

    With so much repetition, it becomes just a bit of patter, when it should be a solemn oath of citizenship. But it does serve as a symbol of the start of the school day, which again cheapens it.

    I tend to keep silent during the “under God” bit, and sometimes for “indivisible”. I only expect students to stand still and to not say anything else … I have not noticed any dissenters.

  28. 28
    opposablethumbs

    Thank you very much for the left/right info, Alan Boyle and AsqJames! I have now successfully voted (but sadly the religiots are still ahead, 53% to 47% at the time of writing).

  29. 29
    CHARLES

    as of just now 47/53 to the god guys

  30. 30
    tomfrog

    It’s funny how a piece of cloth ban be perceived in different cultures/countries. In the US, it seems, not indulging in adoration of the flag can be perceived as un-American by some people. In France, adorning the flag at your window or on your clothes or whatever would actually be perceived as far-right nationalism. The exception being during big sport events like the coming world cup (Allez les Bleus ! ;) ).
    There’s been a slight shift in recent years though: now the tricolore can be widely seen in leftists political rallies for example when at some point it was, again, mostly visible on the right.

  31. 31
    Menyambal

    Just voted. It is getting closer to even.

    I noticed that the picture is of a child. Adults do not do the pledge on a daily basis, as far as I know. It it very much a young student thing. Even high schools do not do it often.

    By the way, the poll title should reflect that “under God” was only added in 1954. So “be taken back out of” would be better.

  32. 32
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Looks like my IT department doesn’t like that web site. Sigh.

  33. 33
    HappyHead

    It’s now 48-52, with No leading.

    Expect the poll to vanish, or be reset any time now.

  34. 34
    Sastra

    I never minded saying the pledge per se because at some point I arrived at the conclusion that we were just supposed to be reaffirming or reminding ourselves of the humanistic ideals of the United States, which are still exemplary (and universal) even when they’re not put into practice (which they often aren’t.) I may have been taught this by one or more of my teachers. I grew up in the suburbs north of Chicago and looking back they were by and large a pretty progressive and liberal group.

    The “under God” part was rote and didn’t really bother me till I was an adult and figured out that no, it wasn’t simply another word for “Good” and it was exclusionary, insulting, and basically contradicted the rest of it. Not only is the Constitution secular but the belief that we owed ultimate obedience to a Divine Creator King doesn’t mesh with the principle that true authority rests on the consent of the governed.

    I used to belong to a woman’s club which started its monthly meeting with both the Pledge of Allegiance and the Club Collect. I would secularize both, either leaving out the references to God or changing them to something which made more sense. This meant I wasn’t in step with the rest of the group, ending the pledge a beat before them. Tough. I thought of it as symbolizing that atheists were slightly in intellectual advance of the crowd.

    If I were still in that club I’d probably make a stink about officially changing the wording of the collect, at least. I am older, more activist, and less concerned with “causing offense” to the religious. And by all means I support taking “under God” out of the pledge. It not only implies that atheists aren’t real citizens or can’t endorse humanist ideals of Constitutional democracy, it’s specifically intended to imply this. In every argument against the separation of church and state it’s thrown down like a trump card. That and the motto of “In God We Trust.” Who is this “we?” It’s damn well not We The People. Atheists are people.

    So I still don’t mind saying the pledge. “Onenationindivisible.” It creates harmony and disharmony at the same time. Now the rest of them can all play catch up. And woe betide anyone in the room who objects: teaching moment.

  35. 35
    chigau (違う)

    I can’t see the results without voting.
    But I can vote over and over.
    That may be a flawbin their design.

  36. 36
    LykeX

    By the way, the poll title should reflect that “under God” was only added in 1954. So “be taken back out of” would be better.

    How about “should the pledge be returned to it’s original form, the way the founders intended it?”
    I would actually be interested in seeing if that phrasing changed people’s responses.

  37. 37
    LykeX

    Actually, attributing it to the founders might be a stretch. A quick check tells me it wasn’t composed until 1892. Well, considering the target audience I had in mind, it’s probably close enough.

  38. 38
    athyco

    Alan Boyle, #7

    As a Brit, I’m curious as to what Pharyngulite Americans feel about the pledge in general. We don’t really have anything comparable here, and the closest analogy I can think of is of organized prayer.

    Organized prayer is a pretty close analogy, and a “prayer” most Americans heard 180 days a year for 12-13 years during K-12 schooling then had their participation in it drop to low double digits (maybe even single digits) annually unless they took a separate oath to the nation (e.g. armed services), politics, or (notably without an oath) education.

    My brother’s occupation is HVAC repair and installation; as an adult, he said the pledge when he attended his children’s school events–averaging maybe 6 times a year. He probably hasn’t averaged saying the pledge more than once a year since his youngest’s graduation. I taught public school for 27 years and was right back into the 180 days/year routine. And yes, I accepted it without thought. After the first 5 years of standing and reciting every day without hearing the slightest demur, I was educated via two children being raised as Jehovah’s Witness that refusal to stand/recite the pledge was a contention–an objection that had existed even before Congress had inserted “under God” into the pledge in 1954.

    I may have segued into simple grudging disapproval from my then-Episcopalian viewpoint if I hadn’t seen and objected to the bullying those children received from other students. It became my pleasure/honor in the 22 remaining years as a teacher to model publicly that–as long as you don’t disturb anyone else who wishes to participate–you don’t have to do diddly squat during the pledge. Need a nap? Finish forgotten homework or a note to your BBF? Fine. Don’t mind standing but your throat feels scratchy or your elbow is sore? Fine. Want to say the pledge but remain silent for two words? Do it. Want to go all the way back to the original by dropping those two words, saying “my flag” instead of “the flag of the United States of America,” and giving the Bellamy salute? That makes for an interesting conversation afterwards–especially at a high school football game.

    In all those years of interesting conversation, I haven’t had one person say that they spontaneously pledge the Stars and Stripes as they encounter it outside the post office or other government buildings. They all admit that if they’re attending a child’s graduation or honor ceremony or sporting event, they’re there for a shared community purpose that wouldn’t be diminished by omitting the pledge. It just makes them uncomfortable if someone else doesn’t follow along in a crowd. It makes them uncomfortable to consider saying pledge individually and spontaneously. Since most of the interesting conversations had been with parents, an effective comment after those admissions was along of lines of raising children who didn’t have to experience those uncomfortable feelings about a pledge that–hey, think about it–ends “with liberty and justice for all.”

  39. 39
    twas brillig (stevem)

    after my vote (of NO), the standing is: Yes=48% | No=52%
    Hooray, we winning. Will this really settle the controv, once and for all? Is this really a debate the Liberads have been raging with the Conserps?
    is this just a placebo for the Conserps; to let them think they won, or that they really are being dominated by the oh so many Liberads, thus claiming the “underdog” status of envy?
    .
    I seem to remember that in my High School days (class o ’76) there was no required recitation of the PoA, just listen to it on the PA. If it was added in ’54, I wonder how I always knew that it was a recent addition…that the “real” POA was just, “… One Nation, Indivisible, with…” I could understand the I… word needing to be there after the Civil War, but never understand why G was in there. Sounded so artificial to my lapsing-Catlick mind at the time.

  40. 40
    Sastra

    twas brillig #39 wrote:

    that the “real” POA was just, “… One Nation, Indivisible, with…” I could understand the I… word needing to be there after the Civil War, but never understand why G was in there. Sounded so artificial to my lapsing-Catlick mind at the time.

    Actually, the ‘real’ Pledge of Allegiance was just “One Nation Indivisible, with …” In other words, no comma after the word “nation.” Both the comma and the pause were inserted along with the unnecessary phrase “under God.” When the religious reference was added back in ’54 one of the criticisms was that the addition was aesthetically ugly: it destroyed the cadence and flow of the words.

    So if you say it without the reference to ‘God’ but put the pause in anyway it implies that something crucial has been removed. Atheists shouldn’t do that. No comma in the original, no hesitation now.

    (I once won a bet with Michael Newdow over that comma. Heh)

  41. 41
    Kevin Kehres

    I had mistakenly thought that the pledge was a 19th century post-Civil War exercise to keep those pesky secessionists in line.

    My bad.

    Turns out, it was created pretty much as a ploy to sell more flags to schools. Written by a Christian socialist (I know, my jaw is still agape) to honor the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas. According to wiki, it was “promoted by James B. Upham, a marketer for the magazine, as a campaign to instill the idea of American nationalism in students and sell flags to public schools.”

    It’s meaningless drivel, of course. Any traitor worth his salt would gladly lead the pledge in front of an audience of millions, while secretly plotting the downfall of the country. I’ll bet every one of those right-wing Bundy-ites recite the pledge daily, even though Cliven doesn’t even believe the government exists.

  42. 42
    David Marjanović

    39% YES
    1666 votes

    61% NO
    2622 votes

  43. 43
    Alverant

    61% say no now. I wonder how long before the poll is taken down because it’s not going the “right” way.

  44. 44
    David Marjanović

    The phrase “for which it stands” always confused me as a young child. I always wondered why they were talking about witches

    “and to the Republican Richard Sands, one vegetable”…

    That’s how someone understood it as a small child. I can’t google for it, there are too many real Republicans named Richard Sands out there.

    Actually, the ‘real’ Pledge of Allegiance was just “One Nation Indivisible, with …” In other words, no comma after the word “nation.”

    La République une et indivisible.

    It’s meaningless drivel, of course. Any traitor worth his salt would gladly lead the pledge in front of an audience of millions, while secretly plotting the downfall of the country.

    It’s medieval thinking: because many oaths contained “by God”, “by whatever saint” or “so help me God”, oaths were considered literally sacred, and to break them was considered blasphemy. Religious believers, meaning practically everyone, were scared shitless of breaking an oath, even an oath they had been forced to swear against their will. This attitude continued into WWII.

    Nowadays, only dictatures and the USA have a daily loyalty oath. I’ll never get the few seconds of TV out of my head where smiling 6-year-old schoolgirls look up to the Yemeni flag outside a school building and gleefully recite something that contains al-Thawra, “the Revolution”.

  45. 45
    David Marjanović

    This attitude continued into WWII.

    …In Europe, that is. In Islamic cultures, the tradition continues that every public speech begins with “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”; the intent seems to be that any lie that comes after that would be blasphemy.

  46. 46
    unclefrogy

    Any traitor worth his salt would gladly lead the pledge in front of an audience of millions

    uncle frogy

  47. 47
    mothra

    While in grade school, I was sent to the principal’s office for putting my left hand, rather than my right hand over my heart – and resisting this correction by the teachers while saying the pledge (yes I’m sinistral). They finally agreed it was okay for me to use my left hand. The whole incident caused me to consider the words rather than just going through the process every school morning. I quit saying it as I realized (even in 4th grade) that republics could be wrong. I likely would have had another year or two of ‘dronedom’ without the schools’ thoughtful intervention.

  48. 48
    Mobius

    Just voted. “No” is now at 71%

  49. 49
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Now 74% “No”. *titter*

    Also, the site is called “Freedom Press”. ***Conservative Buzzword Alert***

  50. 50
    moarscienceplz

    25% Yes
    75% No
    Well, that about wraps it up for God. Now where’s my Babelfish?

  51. 51
    Crimson Clupeidae

    Current results:
    YES 24%
    3218 votes

    NO 76%
    9991 votes

    So far, the poll is still up. Anyone starting a pool on when it gets taken down?

  52. 52
    busterggi

    No 76%, yes 24 %. Well, let’s see the words disappear now.

  53. 53
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    I would happily pledge (conditional) allegiance to a republic that has liberty and justice for all.

    Now… if I could just find one…

  54. 54
    Olav

    Here, this is how to “pledge allegiance”: (animated gif on Tumblr).

  55. 55
    HolyPinkUnicorn

    @Thumper #49:

    Also, the site is called “Freedom Press”. ***Conservative Buzzword Alert***

    No kidding. A few minutes of browsing around their site reveals that they don’t have the slightest understanding of what either of those two words mean.

    Regarding the pledge, I’m not a fan, much less a reciter. Though it never fails to amuse me hearing “freedom” lovers explain the need to make such pointless loyalty oaths mandatory by law, along with a constitutional amendment against flag burning–again, all in defense of “freedom.”

    However, I graduated high school in June 2001, one of those last few innocent months of pre-Homeland America, and public schools have been busy with far more serious issues since then.

  56. 56
    timgueguen

    You can tell how much a part of US culture the Pledge is when you see ads like this one for the NBA’s app. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UczUQEKJOuk

    The ad is airing up here in Canada as well. It would be interesting to know how many Canadians get that it’s a joking reference to the Pledge. I would guess the answer is a lot.

    And speaking of shows of fealty, do any non-Americans find the whole hand over your heart thing a bit odd? It always seems kind of weird to me since it isn’t common up here.

  57. 57
    inquiringlaurence

    The poll has rightfully been Pharyngulated.

    80% No, 20% Yes.

    Remove that phrase, please.

  58. 58
    garydargan

    So if those numbers change, will the people at that website then just say, “Well, it’s settled then. I guess we’ll stop saying “under god.”? If they stay the same, will you atheists consider the issue resolved and resign yourself to praising god?

    I that another poll question?

  59. 59
    garydargan

    So if those numbers change, will the people at that website then just say, “Well, it’s settled then. I guess we’ll stop saying “under god.”? If they stay the same, will you atheists consider the issue resolved and resign yourself to praising god?

    Is that another poll question?

  60. 60
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @garydargan, 58/59:

    um, what exactly is your point? Because it sounds like you’re just repeating the OP where PZ explained, well, that this is a poll with hubris.

    If you have anything to add, you could, y’know, add something. It’s always beneficial when a comment mixes a little extra substance in with what’s come before.

  61. 61
    Joanne Minish

    #7 Alan Boyle: Isn’t it like singing God Save the Queen ?

  62. 62
    David Marjanović

    And speaking of shows of fealty, do any non-Americans find the whole hand over your heart thing a bit odd?

    See the end of comment 44: we find the whole pledge odd and… disturbing.

  63. 63
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Joanne Minish:

    Isn’t it like singing God Save the Queen ?

    No. Not at all.

  64. 64
    busterggi

    “And speaking of shows of fealty, do any non-Americans find the whole hand over your heart thing a bit odd?”

    The Bellamy salute would seem even odder though it was the original version.

  65. 65
    dailydouq

    There is another poll at the same site that appears to still be allowing voting. Should this one be crushed too? The yeses are winning at the moment.

    http://thefreedompress.com/poll-prayer-allowed-school/

Leave a Reply