We pledge allegiance to each other

The Pledge of Allegiance is un-American, argues Michael Lind on Salon.

In a republic, the people should not pledge allegiance to the government; the government should pledge allegiance to the people.

“We owe each other an obligation to obey the rules that we, directly or through elected representatives, have mutually agreed on,” Lind writes.  Our “appropriate expression of patriotism” comes from the Declaration of Independence:  “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Taking out references to Divine Providence, Lind suggests the Declaration be used for a Citizens’ Pledge.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. And for the support of these principles, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

It seems a bit wordy for something second graders are supposed to know by memory.

Update: A 10-year-old Arkansas boy, Will Phillips, refuses to say the pledge because he thinks “liberty and justice for all” should apply to gays who want to marry or adopt.  Of course, he’s not obliged to do so, but he’s taking some heat from school bullies, who think he’s a “gaywad.”  Jon Stewart has enlisted professional wrestler Mick Foley, who vows to bring a “world of pain” to anyone who calls Phillips a “wad of any sort.”

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  1. Miller T. Smith says:

    Talk about missing the point! The government IS the people and pledging to the government-a republic-is exactly what we are doing.

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    Now consider that The Pledge was an advertising insert to help sell flags…LOL!

  2. It seems pretty obvious to me that by “pledging allegiance” Americans are — as Lind argues — doing so to the Republic. And what is our republic? It’s the people, after all, who elect other people to serve the general public. Then there’s “one Nation.” And what is a “nation?” It’s a group of people: –noun 1. a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own.

    At first glance Lind makes sense — until you actually delve into the Pledge. His real issue, I think, is coercion to say it. But that, as he notes, has been settled for almost 70 years. Teachers/educators need to be aware of this and not discipline students who [rightfully] assert their right not to say the Pledge.

  3. What is he, some kind of revolutionary or something? 🙂

  4. Charles R. Williams says:

    In the Pledge of Allegiance we do not pledge allegiance to the government, we pledge allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands. This calls on us to resist a government that violates our liberties.

  5. Charles R. Williams says:

    Another thought. When we say one nation, under God, we are asserting that our rights do not come from government but that government has a duty to protect God-given rights.

  6. A major problem he may be getting at is that there is no critical thought about what patriotism is. The notion many people have been led to believe is that patriotism means to follow the government, and they often do it blindly.

  7. Our sixth-grade class memorized the entire Declaration – including the whole list of easy-to-mix-up parallel “he has” statements.

    It may very well be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

  8. Do you really expect critical thought from 2nd graders? No, let them memorize the pledge now and hate their country later.

  9. It bugs me that he’s removed “by their Creator” but left everything else intact. “Endowed” is not really the right word if there’s no one behind the action, and the full meaning of “governments are instituted among Men” is lost. Also, it breaks the rhythm, removes a great-sounding word, and butchers history.

    However, I’ll also say that I’m surprised that if he’s going to edit the Declaration to make it universally palatable, that he left all the occurrences of “men” (to equal “people”) intact. That’s bound to be confusing and discouraging for 5-year-old girls.

  10. “I pledge allegiance to my next-desk neighbor. And to the self-esteem-raising exercises for which we take class time. No Child Left Behind, discipline problems tolerate, with standardized testing for all.”

    New version, not an improvement.

    My first reaction was also, “We’re not pledging allegiance to the government; we’re pledging to the IDEA of America….which is the people.” Guy misses the point.

  11. I’ve got a homeschooling friend who doesn’t think much of the idea of pledging allegiance to the flag (which after all is only a symbol), so she has her son recite the Preamble to the Constitution each morning instead.

  12. Richard John Neuhaus used to say that “under God” meant under the judgment of God.

  13. I know that we all know this, but keep in mind that the “under God” segment was a very recent addition (the 1950’s) to serve as a reminder of the Godless nature of the Communists. Kind of a childish reaction if you ask me. Then again, a nice low level tool to agitate against the very possible spread of communism.
    On another note, does anybody else feel a tinge of nationalistic unease by having to recite the pledge every morning as a rote exercise? Reciting anything over and over again without meaning or critical analysis seems to me to be a problem that truly freedom loving people should react strongly against.

  14. Look, I’m all for free expression, but does anyone not think that this boy is just parroting what his parents say about the country? The articles say that he has plenty of gay friends, which, I’m assuming, are adults met through his parents’ political activities.

  15. I don’t know, SuperSub… the CNN anchor asked the kid “what is a gaywad?” and he thought about it, and then said very calmly, “I don’t know. I think it’s a discriminatory term for homosexuals.”

    We’re all shaped, to some degree, by our parents’ ideas, attitudes, and behaviors, but we’re still individuals. This young feller presents himself as quite rational; I think that seeing that some of his parents’ friends are allowed to get married and others aren’t would be a credible point of origin for his thought process.

  16. I wish that people, when reciting the pledge, would not pause between “one nation” and “under God.” There is no comma.

    You can thank a DAR friend for my latest obsession. 🙂

  17. So no editor at Salon is literate enough to parse and comprehend what the Pledge says.

  18. >I wish that people, when reciting the pledge, would not pause >between “one nation” and “under God.” There is no comma.

    There should be. “One-nation-under-God-with-liberty-and-justice-for-all.” is not really very readable. But that’s what you get when you insert extra words for political correctness. The original “One nation, with liberty and justice for all” did scan better.

    To be fair, people also seem to pause between “I pledge allegiance” and “to the flag.”

  19. Peter, you left out “indivisible.” Here’s the pledge:

    “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.”

    It scans well, although omitting “under God” would make it scan better.