I can't go on Facebook lately without someone having posted another Pledge of Allegiance ad trying to sell the idea that kids should be required to say the pledge at the beginning of each school day. Apparently this will fix everything that's wrong with America, judging by comments that say something like "We did this when I went to school and look what's happened to America since!"
There's also an assumption that the poster's friends will all be on board with this idea. Sometimes I'm surprised at the friend who's posted this repugnant suggestion--I wouldn't have expected it of her/him.
I don't understand the magical thinking behind this whole pledge mania. Is saying the pledge supposed to automatically make for better, more moral people? Is it supposed to instill some kind of patriotism that translates into better domestic and foreign policy? Does the absence of the pledge lead to a failure of patriotism that spells doom for the United States? I'm not getting it.
I myself refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance. You know, when communist or socialist countries do this sort of thing, people talk about how evil the state is, forcing its citizens to kowtow, to sacrifice their individualism for the sake of the state. That's pretty much what the pledge was intended to do: inculcate into people, especially school children, the idea that loyalty to the state was more important than their individual rights. Check out this site or Wikipedia for a complete history of the pledge, which was written by a socialist, by the way.
And do take in this image of the original salute that accompanied the pledge:
Look familiar? Yeah, I thought so. (No, they're not the Hitler Youth. They're schoolkids in the USA, back before this particular salute took on a really, really negative meaning.)
Pledging allegiance to a central state is, to put it mildly, not my thing. I dislike nationalism, particularly the jingoistic nationalism that raises its ugly head every time there's, say, the invasion of a nation that's done nothing to threaten us. Saying the pledge of allegiance every school day only serves to put a stop to thinking. The mindless repetition of the pledge seems inoffensive and patriotic (and by the way, I don't particularly hold patriotism in any high esteem, either). But the harm lies in that very mindlessness. Children don't really understand what they're saying, but by the time they're adults, the pledge has become a ritual that gives people the warm-and-fuzzies. There isn't any questioning of what they're actually saying and promising.
I don't want to promise my loyalty to a centralized state. I keep saying in the comments on these abominable FB posts that my allegiance is to the planet and all of the creatures who live on it. In my view, our loyalty should be to our fellow humans and to the living things around us, not to the apparatus of the state.
The pledge simply became more abominable when the words "under God" were added in 1954. Now pledge takers are compelled to mention a being they may not even believe in. They are forced to say that they believe the United States bows to an imaginary being, that it operates under a god. This in a country where religious freedom was one of the aims of the founders.
And don't even get me going on that whole "liberty and justice for all" bit. We have the highest per capita rate of incarceration in the entire world, and I'm sure I don't need to mention that imprisonment falls disproportionately on certain races/ethnic groups. "Liberty and justice for all" is a cruel joke. I honestly don't know how people can even bear to say these words in the pledge without feeling like the rankest hypocrites. But then again, as I said, the P of A discourages actual thought. It's so much easier to believe that the country one was born in is just and righteous in all its ways.
I was quite relieved when someone put up the following to counteract all the stupid P of A posts:
Now that's something I can get behind.