I Pledge Allegiance to …

I once taught in a school that started every day with the Pledge of Allegiance. For many of the students, in Paul Simon’s words, it was merely a Pledge of Allegiance “to the wall”. I do not believe that we should have this pledge any more. Not that I am Anti-American, but pro-American (as far as allegiance to an earthly country is called for).

Side note: In this school we also pledged allegiance to the Texas flag. Imagine the divided devotion of pledgers should Texas ever secede from the Union!

Question to those of you who argue for the Pledge of Allegiance: Which one of the writers of the Federalist Papers would have supported this pledge – an innovation of centuries later? Or which of the other founding fathers would have supported it?

Another reason I am against even having a pledge is that it is all symbol and no substance. Instead of wasting time forcing students to mouth words for which they have no understanding or frame of reference why not focus more on teaching the Constitution (warts and all) and writings like the Federalist Papers? Why not teach, carefully and honestly, a history of our country, including both high and low points, examples exemplary as well as those cautionary?

Of course, this is what I tried to do with my students when I was in Texas – teaching, carefully and honestly, a history of our country, including both high and low points – instead of teaching from a simplistic, supposedly Christian, textbook. And the result was my being forced out of the school.

A kind of funny memory I have from this school (which still has lots of good memories for me). I was teaching American history and going off script (that is, not sticking to the textbook talking points) about US involvement in the Philippine War over a century ago, the title of the chapter something like “Reaching for Glory”. As I was highlighting several unsavory events that our military was involved in a student in the front row raised his hand. He asked me, “Are you a Christian?“And with a straight face too. In the minds of many of these junior high kids everything involving our armed forces is necessarily an extension of our Christianity.

Maybe for them the pledge makes perfect sense. A Shibboleth for our times. The American Eagle flying in midheaven with an eternal gospel of democracy for the world. Maybe for them the two allegiances are fused into one – Americanity.

About asterisktom

I breathe, therefore I blog.
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