A Word on the Pledge of Allegiance

If you’ve spent any amount of time in an American public school, you probably know the pledge of allegiance by heart, but for the sake of my non-US readers here it is in full:

I pledge allegiance to the flag

of the United States of America,

and to the republic for which it stands,

one nation, under God,

indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The phrase “under God” was included in 1954 to differentiate the United States from the godless Commies over on the other side of the Iron Curtain, and it’s usually the main point of contention amongst people who criticize the pledge.  I disagree with them, not because I believe in any kind of God, but because I don’t think they are going far enough in their stance.

In my opinion, the whole pledge itself should be done away with.  My reasons for stating this are twofold: 1. A country that prides itself on granting its citizens the freedom of having a dissent opinion has no business asking said citizens (especially children who can’t even fully make out what they’re swearing an oath to) to pledge their allegiance to principles and entities they are free to criticize and reject, if they so choose.  2. It serves no real purpose, other than to give overzealous patriots the mistaken belief that they are contributing to society by babbling a bunch of words to a piece of cloth hanging on a pole.  And that’s essentially what every flag is, a piece of cloth on a pole.  It has no inherent value or meaning, outside of the ones you are willing to bestow on it.  The pledge will not–cannot–ensure that the children who spent 12 years reciting it become good, honest, upstanding citizens.

Does anyone actually believe that there exists a scenario in which some 32 year old man who was about to commit tax fraud, suddenly stopped and thought to himself, “Wait a minute, I once pledged my allegiance to the flag…so I can’t in good conscience go through with this crime.”  This has never happened, and it will never happen.  The pledge of allegiance has no deterring affect on anyone, doing anything.

The usually criticism I receive for my position on this issue is that I am being unpatriotic, to which I reply, “I’m aware of that, now what’s your point?”  I’ve written before where I stand on the topic of patriotism, and have nothing more to add on to my previous post.

The other rebuttal I have heard is that I’m being silly, and that the pledge is harmless.  But this is not really a point of disagreement with anything I’ve said.  In fact, it fits neatly in with point two above.  The pledge is harmless in the sense that it carries little relevance to the people who go through it on a daily basis.  Most students just stand there looking off into space, waiting for the loudspeaker to finish reciting the pledge, so that they can sit back down and carry on doing whatever it was they were doing before hand.  So, what exactly is the point of this ritual, then?  Are we so insecure as a nation that we need to demand our citizens learn to parrot an oath to our flag from early youth, lest they might actually stop to think about the faults of the country they happen to have been arbitrarily born in?

Do you want to know how I pledge my allegiance to this country?  I follow its laws, I pay my taxes, and (if asked) I’ll serve jury duty.  I leave other law-abiding citizens alone to their business, and I expect the same in return.  That is my pledge to this country and its citizens, and to all countries and people around the world.  And I don’t need children to mindlessly recite it back to me every morning so that I can feel more assured in my personal convictions.

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