I Pledge Allegiance

Politicians love to defend the Pledge of Allegiance almost as much as they like to oppose burning our nation’s flag. The wholesome, patriotic, downright American tradition of reciting a pledge of loyalty in schools every morning is the sort of thing only an America-hating terrorist would ever oppose.

Unless, of course, you believe that America stands for theological freedom, and find the phrase “under God” at odds with certain religious beliefs. Or you believe that America stands for political freedom, and find the entire notion of mandating allegiance from citizens a bit… Red.

I always got hung up on the “under God” bit. I’m on the record of being in favor of liberty and justice for all. Rainbows and puppy dogs aren’t half bad either. But then some clown crammed an “under God” in the middle of the thing (nearly 60 years after the pledge was first coined, mind you), and didn’t even add meaningful content with it. Instead, the extra appositive phrase just makes the whole sentence almost impossible to parse to a child who’s still trying to get the hang of correctly conjugating the word “is” on a regular basis.

But apart from the atrocious grammatical implications, the phrase implies a certain basic religion: that God presides over our country. Thus anyone who believes in more or fewer Gods than just the one is unable to faithfully pledge their allegiance to the entire country, if following the scripted pledge.

While this makes for an interesting academic argument (and occasionally affords politicians some good sound bites), and while I still believe it wholeheartedly, it may overlook some important details.

My daughter, now in kindergarten, was playing quietly in the living room this morning when she spontaneously launched into this recitation:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the bepuplic for which it stands: one nation, under God, in-invisible, with ligerty and jujace for all.

So she’s not developing a sense of God watching over us, or of mandatory loyalty to an ineffable and eternal nation. She’s trying to figure out what a bepublic is and what made it invisible.

One thought on “I Pledge Allegiance

  1. just pixels says:

    The good olde Pledge of Allegiance, written by a Socialist a hundred years ago to counter charges of disloyalty aimed at leftists. Revised in the 1950s — adding “under God” — to help charge leftists with disloyalty. It’s become a fixture of public life, a perfunctory nod to patriotism and religious life, a meaningful as “in God we Trust” on the money, or “God Bless the United States” at the end of a political speech.

    God may be watching over us, but in the past few thousand years He has faithfully obeyed the laws of physics and probability. (Perhaps God pledges allegiance to Newton, Einstein and Planck.)

    Anyway, the “one nation” and “indivisible” obviously come from the trauma of the Civil War. The open and casual talk of secession popping up these day comes from people who are undoubtedly the fiercest defenders of The Pledge. I guess they want to take “in-invisible” out, just as others want to take “under God” out, and just as others (me) want to rewrite the whole thing.

    The President takes an Oath of Office to “protect and defend the Constitution”. That seems like a perfectly good starting point. Citizens — children included — can say they believe not in the flag and its bepublic, but in the Constitution, the whole thing.

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