What the Pledge of Allegiance is really doing


Having young children recite the Pledge of Allegiance always seemed to me to be a somewhat disturbing thing, smacking of childhood indoctrination, even leaving aside the ‘under god’ part. This video captures the problem with it.

(Thanks to Fu Dayi)

Comments

  1. says

    Excellent video, presumably filmed with parental approval…. But it raises an important question: What is an acceptable way to inculcate patriotism? Or, for the truly cynical, is there one?

    We can easily imagine the hullabaloo that would follow a call to repeal the pledge. “First you take God out of the classroom,” they would say, “and now this? Just how much do you hate America?” It’s somewhat ironic, of course, that the pledge was originally devised by a socialist who didn’t feel he could get away with the words “equality” or “fraternity.” And we all know that the words “under God” were not added until the (second) Red Scare in the 1950s, notwithstanding the fact that generations of American children beforehand had been sufficiently patriotic to march off and die in two World Wars.

    But what would replace the pledge? Nothing? Would we simply rely on history and civics classes? That would be my preference, but it seems that we can’t even agree on how our own history is supposed to be taught. The Texans and Kansans, in particular, are determined to reinvent the founding as a quasi-religious event in the life of God’s chosen people, and since Texas is such a large market for school boooks their wishes tend to affect the contents of books sold all over the country.

  2. Matthew says

    Richard,

    I count myself among the truly cynical and say that teaching patriotism has no place in the public school system. Any form of government sponsored nationalism, though apparently harmless, is a step in a very scary direction. The purpose of the schools is to educate, not to manipulate the emotions and opinions of the students who attend them. I would suggest that the pledge be repealed entirely but as that is very unlikely, I would settle for it to be returned to its original wording.

    Though “Just how much do you hate America?” does seem to be the most likely response that most people would have to suggesting the pledge be repealed, I find it a bit ironic. My response to that question is that by getting rid of the pledge people would not be influenced by it and more likely to form their own opinions. Isn’t that one of the things that people say makes America so great? If you really love this country there are plenty of ways to show it that are more productive than uttering a few words. It would be far better to become a more active citizen whether it means writing an opinion piece in the paper, promoting your favorite candidate or piece of legislation, joining the armed forces, or whatever you can do to improve something about this country.

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