Pharyngula

Growing bolder in Boulder

Oh, to be young again and brave: I’m impressed with these high school students who protested the American loyalty oath to a god:

About 50 Boulder High School students walked out of class Thursday to protest the daily reading of the Pledge of Allegiance and recited their own version, omitting “one nation, under God.”

The students say the phrase violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

Back in my high school days, I simply quietly refused to say the pledge, and didn’t make an issue of it. It’s a sign of progress that now students will make their protests loud and unavoidable.

Dare I hope that more students across the country will take some inspiration from this act?


There’s also a video of the students! There are also the usual suspects: the young Neandertal who thinks that if you won’t recite the pledge, you ought to leave the country, and the blinkered administrator who isn’t going to change his dogma. Otherwise, though, look at the smart students standing up for their rights — those are the ones who matter.

Comments

  1. #1 Alison
    September 28, 2007

    I would love to see the version they recite in print. I’ve gone from just omitting “under god” to simply saying nothing. Despite the fact that I’m surrounded by theists, and have to hear the pledge many times (as the parent of public school students, I attend school events, and reciting the pledge is de rigeur)nobody has said a thing to me. In fact, my kids don’t say the “under god” part, and their friends think it’s fascinating, rather than appalling, that they have no religion. Unfortunately, I’ve raised conscientious objectors rather than agitators, so if this kind of thing is going to happen in my town’s schools, it won’t be started by my kids. Oh, well.

  2. #2 Wicked Lad
    September 28, 2007

    Ever since my high school days, I’ve stayed silent during the Pledge, based not on my objection to the “under God” phrase, but based on my objection to the very idea of a loyalty oath…especially to a flag. (Eddie Izzard riffs on this in a hilarious routine, but I don’t have access to YouTube from work. You can search for “Eddie Izzard flag” and it’ll turn up.)

  3. #3 Jennifurret
    September 28, 2007

    During my senior year of high school, Indiana law made it mandatory to allow time to recite the pledge of allegiance followed by a minute of silent every day of class. “Allow time” because they knew it was unconstitutional to force it, but they still wanted to weasel it in. Peer pressure alone made most people do it, because people didn’t understand why someone wouldn’t. I would always stand, but would never say the pledge. I thought it was important to be respectful to others, but that I didn’t agree with the message so I wouldn’t recite it.

  4. #4 Gaurav
    September 28, 2007

    Perhaps reciting the Indian motto “Truth alone triumphs” is a better idea. But then its treason!

  5. #5 CortxVortx
    September 28, 2007

    I always found it ironic that the phrase “one nation, indivisible” was divided by the divisive phrase “under God.”

    — CV

  6. #6 ctenotrish, FCD
    September 28, 2007

    I leave out the god bit as well. The pledge was better before McCarthyism!

  7. #7 Christian Burnham
    September 28, 2007

    Yes- It’s insane that children have to pledge allegiance to a flag in the first place.

    Where’s the anti-flag movement? Is there one?

    I suggest using the term ‘aflagists’ for people who don’t think bits of cloth hold mystical powers over humanity.

  8. #8 Mus
    September 28, 2007

    Hmm. The video isn’t working for me. I even allowed scripts globally (I have never seen so many scripts in one place), but no luck. Anyone have it somewhere else or know how I could watch it?

  9. #9 Christian Burnham
    September 28, 2007

    I did a search for the video on YouTube. No luck, but I did stumble across this ‘hilarious’ monologue by Christian comedian Rich Praytor regarding the pledge.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaCi_JJLCyY

  10. #10 dorid
    September 28, 2007

    One of my kids won’t say “under God” during the pledge, the other will refuse to pledge entirely. I have to say I’m proud of them. In response to their middle school now offering Lunchtime Bible Club, the elder twin has already approached the faculty about having an atheists club. We’ll see how that goes. She’s already decided that the first meetings will be a viewing and discussion group of Flock of Dodos and she’s been wearing her “American Atheist” T-shirt to class at least once a week.

    there’re out there… they just don’t always make the news.

  11. #11 CalGeorge
    September 28, 2007

    The Pledge of Allegiance is offensive brainwashing. Why are they saying any of it?

    Come on. People putting their hands over their “hearts” and reciting a bunch of right-wing garbage?

    Incredibly offensive bullshit.

  12. #12 Epistaxis
    September 28, 2007

    I always found it ironic that the phrase “one nation, indivisible” was divided by the divisive phrase “under God.”

    Which means that, if you simultaneously recite the pre-McCarthyist version, you can belt out “INDIVISIBLE!” at exactly the same time everyone else is mumbling “under god.” Too bad the very process of reciting a pledge is designed to shut down the brain – no one will be able to appreciate the irony.

  13. #13 MartinDH
    September 28, 2007

    In her last year of pledging, my daughter recited the pledge that Frank Bellamy originally wrote (with the addition of “Equality” that Bellamy wanted but was afraid to insert):

    I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty, equality, and justice for all.

    At the end of the school year, a large minority of her home room were reciting with her, rather than the DAR/McCarthy version.

    (Of course, as a Brit, I fail to see the point of a daily recitation of a pledge).

  14. #14 Don
    September 28, 2007

    It’s so interesting… the Pledge was devised by a socialist and is now fervently demanded by the Right Wing… authoritarians are more alike than different.

    Three cheers for the youth of America! I fervently hope they stay more American than our current crop of “leaders” from both entrenched parties.

  15. #15 incunabulum
    September 28, 2007

    When my mother tries to say the Pledge of Allegiance, the “under god” part sounds weird to her. Why? Because she was born in the 30s and, as a child, recited the pre-McCarthy version. I noticed the article on FOX News didn’t mention the older version.

  16. #16 SteveM
    September 28, 2007

    When I was in elementary school in the 60’s, we would follow the pledge with an excerpt from the DOI preamble, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal … and the pursuit of happiness”

  17. #17 Jason Failes
    September 28, 2007

    It has always struck me as odd that the word “indivisible” is placed so closely to the ultimate divider, “God”, in the pledge.

    The American Government needs a better Irony Metre.

  18. #18 386sx
    September 28, 2007

    Hmm. The video isn’t working for me. I even allowed scripts globally (I have never seen so many scripts in one place), but no luck. Anyone have it somewhere else or know how I could watch it?

    There you go:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUZXdNOYazM

  19. #19 Pygmy Loris
    September 28, 2007

    I don’t understand the need for pledge recitations either. We had them in elementary school, but by middle school teachers were too busy trying to cram all the lessons in to be bothered with losing valuable class time. We probably didn’t have these sorts of things because homeroom wasn’t in the morning but at lunch time. Try getting hungry teenagers to recite anything!

  20. #20 Bad
    September 28, 2007

    Jason Failes:”The American Government needs a better Irony Metre.”

    And you need a “great minds think alike” meter. Check out post #5 🙂

  21. #21 Matt Penfold
    September 28, 2007

    As a European I find this whole pledge reciting thing rather odd. We do not have it here in Europe but does anyone really think that the French, Spanish, Germans, British, Irish etc are any less patriotic than Americans ?

  22. #22 Brownian
    September 28, 2007

    I think it’s a good thing to do it, ’cause this is our country you know, so if you have a problem with it, then you should leave this country.

    I’m just a poor, toque-wearing, poutine-eating, universal-health-care-believing Canadian, but didn’t your country come about by people who didn’t like the way things were and changed them?

  23. #23 russell
    September 28, 2007

    I admit it, I just want to win the comment contest.

    Nothing more than that.

    Oh, and as always, thanks for one of my favorite blogs PZ!

  24. #24 TritoneSub
    September 28, 2007

    My son just had an opinion piece published in his high school newspaper about the pledge (rural Indiana). I was counseling him to write about how the separation of church and state is good for churches and about the history of the pledge. He opted to spend his 250 words lamenting the fact that he feels marginalized by it. His idea was better.

  25. #25 Chili Pepper
    September 28, 2007

    Jennifurret wrote:
    Peer pressure alone made most people do it, because people didn’t understand why someone wouldn’t

    When I was in high school, for reasons unknown, they started playing a recording of the Lord’s Prayer after the national anthem every morning – I’m in Canada BTW, no pledge of allegiance.

    I stood for the anthem (even given the “God keep our land…” line, but sat down again when the prayer started.

    “Stand up,” hissed the guy standing next to me.
    “I’m an atheist,” I said.
    “Me too, now stand up!”

    Peer pressure is a pretty powerful influence.

  26. #26 troy
    September 28, 2007

    I wish I could believe that this was truly an act of protest. Lets be honest though, this is just ditching. I have no doubt that given the hint to do so the very same kids would walk out of biology class to protest the teaching of evolution. If these kids really felt so strongly they would stay in the school and make their point heard where it was most relevant. Walk outs are rarely protests and often just ditching. Go to school, get your education, then walk the streets on your own time wearing a sandwich board if you want to protest.

  27. #27 jenni
    September 28, 2007

    being left-handed, i never understood why you had to pledge and swear to do things with your right hand. so my bit of subversiveness was pledging with my left hand, starting at the age of ten or so.

  28. #28 K
    September 28, 2007

    You think that’s fun, try explaining the pledge to exchange students. Especially entertaining was the Russian kid. I laughingly told him the pledge is all Russia’s fault. It was invented because Americans were so afraid of communist that they think if they cast this magic spell, the communists would poof! Disappear!

  29. #29 PeteK
    September 28, 2007

    For many, mentioning God , whether in the definite way o rhte slipshod, casual way, is so ingrained in them, that noone gives it a second thought.

    E.g. “God knows” to mean “I don’t know”.

  30. #30 Snarly Old Fart
    September 28, 2007

    When I started first grade, we had to learn the Lore Sprayer and the Plechab Legions.

    You assume the right pose, mutter the sounds like the other kids, and you’re done. It made no more or less sense than anything else in grade school.

    I did not actually consider the wording of either until college, and then it all seemed so loony.

  31. #31 Brownian
    September 28, 2007

    Chili Pepper, I stand for O Canada, but I won’t sing it.

    I’ve never understood nationalism. Why should I feel pride for a place because I got borned there? There are better reasons to feel proud of one’s country, and in both the US and Canada those reasons are the antithesis of blind patriotism.

  32. #32 Moggie
    September 28, 2007

    At school, I had to recite the Lord’s Prayer aloud every day. As a result, and despite the fact that I haven’t spoken it (or prayed at all) for 35 years, I can still reel it off without thinking. I’m sure that’s the reason behind reciting the pledge at school: the belief that this rote repetition will make patriotism and obedience an ingrained, unthinking reflex. Thankfully, in many people it doesn’t work.

  33. #33 Michael Waddick
    September 28, 2007

    This is kind of funny because the same issue kind of came up in my high school in 2004. I went to south high school in Minneapolis and not until my senior year that they decide to recite the pledge every Monday morning over the loud speaker. Well they decided it would only be right if a student read it over the loudspeaker. Well who would of thought my quite problem inducing friend demanded that it should be him. Well come Monday morning he started saying the pledge and when it got to one nation under god he said “one nation under Getty Lee, Sting…” then the mic was attempted to be pulled from his hands. it was quite funny because then they actually had a struggle back and forth for the mic over the loud speaker. over all he didnt even get in trouble….

  34. #34 markbt73
    September 28, 2007

    I still prefer the Calvin and Hobbes version.

    “I pledge allegiance to Queen Fragg, and her mighty state of hysteria…”

  35. #35 BobApril
    September 28, 2007

    Matt – …but does anyone really think that the French, Spanish, Germans, British, Irish etc are any less patriotic than Americans?

    Well, yeah, sort of. You guys squabble over things quite a bit, but I can’t imagine Americans agreeing to (for example) give up dollars in favor of a hypothetical Amero. Or look at all the people here afraid that our membership in the UN will lead to a world government. Something like the European Union would be a VERY tough sell over here, even just between us and Canada – add in the Mexicans and it wouldn’t stand a chance. And yes, I know it wasn’t all that easy over there, but I think our nutcases would go the extra mile. Er, extra 1.6 kilometers, that is.

  36. #36 Interrobang
    September 28, 2007

    Being Canadian, I have to say the concept of pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth sounds kind of weird to me, although I understand why Bellamy came up with it — being a socialist of that particular stripe, he was pretty anxious to prove to a socialist-hostile nation that people that far left could too be patriotic, largely for skin-preserving reasons. (Given what later happened to Sacco and Vanzetti, and then later still with McCarthyism, I have to applaud the guy’s instincts.) So, no, Don, it wasn’t a case of “authoritarians” thinking alike, especially since a pacifist socialist is not really an authoritarian…

    Contrary to Chili Pepper’s experience, the best day of my schooling life happened when they stopped having the Lord’s Prayer and Bible reading as part of what they referred to as “Opening Exercises.” By that time, I’d long since refused to recite the thing, and would often conspicuously read or study during the Bible reading.

    On the other hand, between that and the Grade IV teacher who decided that a fun literacy project for us would be a daily reading from the New Testament, and the group of funnymentalists who moved into my high school attendance district when I was in Grade X, and proceeded to convert 90% of the school’s attendees, is it any wonder why I’m still pretty hostile to the idea of public displays of religion (especially Christianity)? I graduated from high school about a half a hundred years ago now, seems like, and I don’t know if the hangover will ever fade…

  37. #37 Rich
    September 28, 2007

    Nationalism seems a bit like a more current racism to me.

    We’re the same because our ancestors where geo-proximal.

    vs.

    We’re the same because we are geo-proximal.

    I don’t really buy into “a national identity” unless you spin it into tolerance and diversity.

    I’LL TAKE THAT FRIGGIN MOLLY NOW YOU SHOITEHAWKS.

    PS – KRISTINE IS STILL WITCH.

  38. #38 CJColucci
    September 28, 2007

    The best thing about pledges and prayers is the misreadings. More than a few NYC kids developed an irrational fear of being led into Penn Station. Just who is this busybody Good Mrs. Murphy, following us all the days of our lives? And Richard Stans, why are we pledging for him?

  39. #39 Dave S.
    September 28, 2007

    Chili Pepper [#25]

    When I was in high school, for reasons unknown, they started playing a recording of the Lord’s Prayer after the national anthem every morning – I’m in Canada BTW, no pledge of allegiance.

    I grew up in Canada in the 60’s. At that time, we not only sang the anthem every morning in school, but we recited the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe they thought it made us good citizens.

  40. #40 Charles Soto
    September 28, 2007

    I have not recited “the pledge” since about junior high. I always got mean looks during sports events, but I didn’t care. I objected both on religious grounds, as well as on the principal that one should not pledge allegiance to a republic, but rather to people. If the republic ceases to represent and defend the rights of the people, my allegiance disappears. I think that’s what some of the “founding fathers” had in mind, anyway…

    Good for these kids. I look forward to the day when I have a child in public school, so I can put my ACLU dollars to work! Oh, and I’ll probably sue Texas first…

  41. #41 Dan
    September 28, 2007

    When I was a wee lad in 6th grade, as a practical joke once, I managed to get the whole class of about 15 students to pledge their allegiance to the flag of Togo.

    You would not believe the time you can save by replacing “the United States of America” with “Togo.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t take advantage of that since I spent much of the day in the principal’s office getting chewed out for my subversive behavior.

  42. #42 sailor
    September 28, 2007

    Oh Yes, their version in MUCH better. Go kids!

  43. #43 sailor
    September 28, 2007

    Here is the student version to which I was referring in my last post I think they should substitute nation for flag. It is a bit damn stupid to pldge to piece of cloth.

    “I pledge allegiance to the flag and my constitutional rights with which it comes. and to the diversity, in which our nation stands, one nation, part of one planet, with liberty, freedom, choice and justice for all.”

  44. #44 n3rdchik
    September 28, 2007

    I like Atheist in a Minivan’s kid’s solution – One nation, under Canada.
    Cracks me up everytime.

  45. #45 Martin
    September 28, 2007

    I’m half German, which I suspect might influence my views, and the first time I saw TV footage of American school kids doing the pledge of allegiance the image that popped immediately into my head was images of the Hitler youth pledging undying loyalty to greatness of Germany and it’s leader.

    I thought it was just some wacko school… until I learned that it’s normal. Seeing footage of it still makes me very uncomfortable.

  46. #46 386sx
    September 28, 2007

    Christian Burnham wrote: I did a search for the video on YouTube.

    Here it is on youtube from some user named “birdieflybirdie”, whatever the hell “birdieflybirdie” is supposed to mean. What the hell?

  47. #47 Dahan
    September 28, 2007

    This whole pledge thing reminds me of what David Sedaris said when he moved over seas. He said that

    “Every day we’re told that we live in the greatest country on earth. And it’s always stated as an undeniable fact: Leos are born between July 23 and August 22, fitted queen-size sheets measure sixty by eighty inches, and America is the greatest country on earth. Having grown up with this in our ears, it’s startling to realize that other countries have nationalistic slogans of their own, none of which are ‘We’re number two!”

  48. #48 Virginia
    September 28, 2007

    I’ve advocated for years ditching the pledge and replacing it with recitation of the Preamble to the Constitution – a succinct, eloquent statement of what America is all about:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  49. #49 Martin07
    September 28, 2007

    I love the student body president’s surprise at the large turn out for the protest, as if high school students won’t take any opportunity to skip class.

  50. #50 Kseniya
    September 28, 2007

    I skip the “under God” part now, too. Am I an atheist yet, or just a lapsed Christian? I dunno, maybe I’m just a patriot. I consider the phrase unpatriotic, by virtue of the establishment clause.

    I never noticed the irony of the “one nation (divided) indivisible” thing. Nice.

    A year or two ago I read a short but persuasive essay about flag-burning, in which the author made a case against laws prohibiting desecration of the flag by arguing that such laws were manifestations of idolatry because only sacred objects can be desecrated. The SCOTUS may not be thus persuaded of the unconstitionality of such laws, but I personally have no problem with torching a piece of cloth in protest of some action taken by the republic for which it stands. Torching a flag is more patriotic than setting up “free speech zones” around convention centers, IMO.

    In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects. (J. William Fulbright)

  51. #51 Steve_C
    September 28, 2007

    Troy,

    That’s one of the goofiest things I’ve heard in a while.

    Even if they were “ditching” if it’s to make a stink about “UNDER GOD”, I’m all for it.

    Wanker.

  52. #52 Dahan
    September 28, 2007

    Kseniya,

    I hadn’t thought about the “desecration” tag in that way. Very interesting take.

    One more thing relating to the burning of the flag. Burning a flag is the correct way to dispose of one. What the anti-flag burning advocates are actually doing is making illegal what you’re thinking and feeling at the time of the burning.

    Burn a slightly faded flag, all the time feeling respectful? A proper and right thing to do.

    Burn the same slightly faded flag and feel anger toward American policies? You’re headed to jail buddy. A perfect example of “thought crime”.

  53. #53 MikeM
    September 28, 2007

    My kids are school-aged, so I get the chance to recite the pledge once in a while myself. Whenever we get to “Under God”, I stand on my chair, say it really loud (at the top of my lungs, really; that’s my masturbatory philosophy), and then start crying. Sobbing, actually.

    People are really worried about me. I have no idea why.

    Seriously, though, we’ve all seen the red-white-and-blue shirts, with the cross and Lady Liberty, and the words “UNDER GOD” written about 10 times the size of the rest of the Pledge. Isn’t that about the same as what I do?

  54. #54 godbot-loathing atheist
    September 28, 2007

    Not to knock Kansas, but the Kansas Republican Party seems to really want those loyalty oaths, too:

    http://newappeal.blogspot.com/2007/07/kansas-gop-launches-loyalty-oath.html

    So…is there an atheist loyalty oath? Loyal to the truth, maybe?

  55. #55 Robert Thille
    September 28, 2007

    I always thought it was strange that we pledged allegiance to the flag, rather than ideals behind the nation and the constitution that embodies them. The swearing on the bible also struck me as strange.

  56. #56 oxytocin
    September 28, 2007

    Also being a Canadian, I think that many of us find it uncomfortable when expected to be patriotic. Although I also stand for our anthem, I have always disagreed with its use at sporting events [except maybe the Olympics]. Being a huge fan of NHL hockey [I know, big surprise, right?], there have been some unfortunate occurences of booing and jeering between Canadians and Americans when their respective anthems came on. We already have our teams to cheer for…we don’t need to be reminded that we also have a border between as well. Humans are drawn to tribalism at every turn. Traveling is a great remedy for this, and I wish that everyone had the capacity to do so. You quickly realize just how small your corner of the world is…at once you appreciate what you have, while simultaneously learning that our way isn’t always the best way.

  57. #57 firemancarl
    September 28, 2007

    Hooray! Nice to see KIDS standing up for whats right!

  58. #58 Caledonian
    September 28, 2007

    Alas, I fully expect the forces of mindless conformity and obedience to authority to win, as they usually do when “children” are involved.

    What’s with this right-left garbage? Authoritarians are all alike.

  59. #59 charles Soto
    September 28, 2007

    I think Animal Mother provides the best athiest’s creed:

    “If I’m gonna get my balls blown off for a word, my word is poontang.”

    I think I will suggest to the esteemed Texas Legislature that we adopt the following as our new pledge:

    “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under Oklahoma, and partly under New Mexico, one and indivisible.”

  60. #60 Mus
    September 28, 2007

    There you go:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUZXdNOYazM

    Awesome, thanks a bunch 386sx!

  61. #61 BruceJ
    September 28, 2007

    It’s so interesting… the Pledge was devised by a socialist and is now fervently demanded by the Right Wing… authoritarians are more alike than different.

    Not only a socialist, he was in fact, a Baptist minister, and deliberately left out the mention of ‘God’, as he thought that it had no place in a pledge to a secular country.

  62. #62 Michael
    September 28, 2007

    So the principal’s sole stated reason for denying their request, at least on the video, was that he didn’t want teachers to have to worry about what they can and cannot say.
    WTF?! How is that any different from now? Is it not currently the case that secular institutions are not allowed to support any particular religion and teachers should watch out that they don’t appear to be doing so. Is racism still a bad thing? Should teachers not be careful that they don’t appear to be racist bigots?

    As for the claims that this was about cutting class, and not fighting against what is a blatant violation of the constitution, I’m left wondering if you guys went to school in a shoe box. Not to mention they cut out on reciting the pledge, not on taking a physics class. A major protest was held in my school over our teachers unfair wages. A few thousand of us “cut class” and protested by marching up and down the main street of Fairfield, CA. We made headline news and embarrased the hell out of the school board. The teachers eventually got their pay raised. It’s the power of the people. Even if the people are just highschool students.

    And lastly, the very first right in the very first amendment, is the freedom of/from religion. For those who don’t like that right being exercised, might I suggest moving to another country that doesn’t give you that right? I hear Iran is lovely this time of year.

  63. #63 Pete
    September 28, 2007

    Can you guys who have kids in school reciting this pledge, you know, do something about it? Like stand up at the meetings and say it’s crap?
    Thanks.

  64. #64 Ken Mareld
    September 28, 2007

    When it came time to say the Pledge in my High School I simply stood up and quietly said nothing. A number of my classmates did the same. Until one year one very authoritarian teacher decided to single us out and told us to wait outside the classroom during this ritual. I guess she thought our presence during this sacred ceremony would infect other students to do the same thing. The first few days there were three of us. Later (out of a class of about 30) there were 10 of us. This went on throughout the semester. We found out later she went to the school principal and the school board in order to determine whether she could get us expelled. As we were ALL honors students the administration told her to drop the issue. They also told her that she was to grade us fairly on our work in class. Being authoritarian herself she followed the orders of higher authority. She also left her teaching position at my High School at the end of the school year. It was the 8:00 AM third year German class. 1971-1972 Vietnam era, Los Angeles City School District.
    Today is a new era, and a new generation. The same battles are still being fought.

  65. #65 Denis Loubet
    September 28, 2007

    I wonder if we can frame this whole issue as a “teach the controversy” kind of thing. Use the theist’s own weapons against them.

    Serve the idiots right.

  66. #66 Jeff D
    September 28, 2007

    Don’t know if anyone else brought this up already, but I once heard Robin Williams substitute “under Canada” for “under God” in the pledge.

    Back in September 2002 and 2003, I went to 2 public schools as part of the “Ask Me What’s Great About America” lecture program, to talk about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc. The students in the K-grades still stand up and recite the Pledge — they can’t be compelled to stand or to say it, of course, but most do, and when I joined in I just fell silent when I came to the “under god” part.

    I recall being compelled to sit through Bible verse readings AND say the Lord’s Prayer AND then recite the Pledge every day in elementary school in Pennsylvania in 1960-1962 before the Supreme Court’s decision in Abingdon School Dist. v. Schempp (374 U.S. 203), the 1963 case that struck down the Pennsylvania state statute that was mandating the Bible reading and prayer.

    It’s important to note that in a late 2002 “open letter” to America (attributed to Osama bin Laden and never renounced or disclaimed), his #1 criticism of the U.S.A. was that we have separation of church and state.

  67. #67 SteveM
    September 28, 2007

    “I always thought it was strange that we pledged allegiance to the flag, rather than ideals behind the nation and the constitution that embodies them.”

    Apparently you missed the next line of the pledge, “… and to the republic for which it stands…”

    As for citizens swearing allegiance to the Constitution, you seem to also be missing the whole concept of the Constitution. Which is, the citizens (We the people) write the constitution and it is the government that must pledge allegience to it (as they do, look at the various oaths of office. all swear to obey and protect the constitution (if only they actually would)). The constitution is the people’s law that binds the government, not the other way around. (at least, that is what it is supposed to be).

  68. #68 Snarly Old Fart, again
    September 28, 2007

    It would be funnier if they all sang the hymn from Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning of Life’.

    Oh, Lord, please don’t burn us.
    Don’t grill or toast your flock.
    Don’t put us on the barbecue
    Or simmer us in stock.
    Don’t braise or bake or boil us
    Or stir-fry us in a wok.
    Oh, please don’t lightly poach us
    Or baste us with hot fat.
    Don’t fricassee or roast us
    Or boil us in a vat.
    And please don’t stick thy servants, Lord
    In a Rotissomat.

    Or they could translate the pledge into German and chant it at the top of their lungs, shrieking the words ‘unter Gott’, and then afterwards say aloud a prayer to Apollo, Physician.

  69. #69 Jason
    September 28, 2007

    If you think the pledge is bad (and it is) imagine if your constitution began –

    “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,

    We, the people of Éire,

    Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ,…”

  70. #70 Woodwose
    September 28, 2007

    Why the disparaging remark about Neandertals?

  71. #71 MikeM
    September 28, 2007

    Can you guys who have kids in school reciting this pledge, you know, do something about it? Like stand up at the meetings and say it’s crap?
    Thanks.

    Good point. I’ll ask about it next chance I get.

    See? I can take criticism. [Grits teeth, gets red in the face, stomps off.]

    Nope, you’re right.

  72. #72 MikeM
    September 28, 2007

    Brings to mind one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes:

    “I pledge allegiance to Queen Frag,
    and her mighty state of hysteria.”

    Next frame: Calvin in the Principal’s office.

    (Curse that teacher…)

  73. #73 Kseniya
    September 28, 2007

    The Monty Python verse, translated to Russian and back:

    About, the God, please do not burn down us.
    Do not fry or fry your congestion.
    Do not place us in a barbecue
    Or boil us in a stock.
    Do not extinguish or bake or boil us
    Or hot movements us in a kettle with the convex bottom.
    About, please slightly do not steal us
    Or bang us with hot fat.
    Do not do fricassee or fry us
    Or boil us in a tub.
    And please do not attach your employees, the God
    In Rotissomat.

  74. #74 lithopithecus
    September 28, 2007

    “….one nation: fifty states, indivisible…”
    does nothing to the “flow” of the piece.
    still, you’ll never hear me say it…

  75. #75 David Marjanovi?
    September 28, 2007

    As a European I find this whole pledge reciting thing rather odd. We do not have it here in Europe but does anyone really think that the French, Spanish, Germans, British, Irish etc are any less patriotic than Americans ?

    Oh yes. Very few of them will consider “my country right or wrong” even thinkable.

    Except the Germans. They consider it thinkable — and run screaming from that thought. See comment 45.

    Only the Swiss are proud to be Swiss, and even that only as long as you don’t ask them if they don’t actually mean “happy” rather than “proud”. Oh, and I’ve met one Polish patriot. Recent events also let me suppose that there are some left in the Balkans…

    Where are you from?

    When I was in high school, for reasons unknown, they started playing a recording of the Lord’s Prayer after the national anthem every morning – I’m in Canada BTW, no pledge of allegiance.

    National anthem every morning?!? WTF?

  76. #76 David Marjanovi?
    September 28, 2007

    As a European I find this whole pledge reciting thing rather odd. We do not have it here in Europe but does anyone really think that the French, Spanish, Germans, British, Irish etc are any less patriotic than Americans ?

    Oh yes. Very few of them will consider “my country right or wrong” even thinkable.

    Except the Germans. They consider it thinkable — and run screaming from that thought. See comment 45.

    Only the Swiss are proud to be Swiss, and even that only as long as you don’t ask them if they don’t actually mean “happy” rather than “proud”. Oh, and I’ve met one Polish patriot. Recent events also let me suppose that there are some left in the Balkans…

    Where are you from?

    When I was in high school, for reasons unknown, they started playing a recording of the Lord’s Prayer after the national anthem every morning – I’m in Canada BTW, no pledge of allegiance.

    National anthem every morning?!? WTF?

  77. #77 David Marjanovi?
    September 28, 2007

    Under a less political-historical definition of Europe, I’m obliged to mention the Putin Youth. Sick, sick, sick.

  78. #78 David Marjanovi?
    September 28, 2007

    Under a less political-historical definition of Europe, I’m obliged to mention the Putin Youth. Sick, sick, sick.

  79. #79 Shadow
    September 28, 2007

    And lastly, the very first right in the very first amendment, is the freedom of/from religion.

    Oh, but you know, some of them will even argue that. One of the local news stations runs a weekly editorial from the general manager, and it’s almost always some blind glorification of standard religious and military allegiance. I knew the day the title was Freedom of, not freedom from that things weren’t going to go well. ~_~

  80. #80 Richard Simons
    September 28, 2007

    As a Brit, I agree with Martin (#45) that seeing footage of Americans gazing with rapt attention at a flag, with their hand on their hearts, reciting the pledge of allegiance makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable. Part of it is probably that public displays of patriotism make many in Britain uneasy (although certainly some newspapers are very jingoistic).

    Oxytocin (#56) is right to say travel is a great thing in this context. I feel everyone should spend at least 6 months living in another country (and not just in a military unit). It impresses upon you that there are other ways of doing things that might be at least as good as your own.

  81. #81 jpf
    September 28, 2007

    I’m half German, which I suspect might influence my views, and the first time I saw TV footage of American school kids doing the pledge of allegiance the image that popped immediately into my head was images of the Hitler youth pledging undying loyalty to greatness of Germany and it’s leader.

    If that creeped you out, read this. In the original version of the Pledge ritual, it started with a military salute and then the hand was extended out toward the flag with the arm held straight, much like the Nazi salute.

  82. #82 PuckishOne
    September 28, 2007

    I’ve angered more than a few people over the years by not only refusing to recite the pledge, but also by refusing to sing the national anthem at public gatherings (although I will stand with the crowd). I’ve always envied countries like Canada who actually proclaim their allegiance to the country instead of a piece of fabric. And is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that these flag patriots are often the last people to know how the flag should be displayed, handled and disposed of?

  83. #83 Todd Sayre
    September 28, 2007

    This situation could be much improved with a little framing.

    These kids are obviously originalists. They didn’t “omit” god from the Pledge, their originalism compelled them to restore the Pledge. Besides, it was Congressional activists that threw away over 50 years of history and altered it in the first place.

  84. #84 lysa
    September 28, 2007

    That is the best and most amazing thing I’ve read all year. It gives me hope, it really does, for America’s future, that maybe the next generation can make a strong start towards returning this country to some semblance of Constitutional, and perhaps even secular, sanity. After all, even some of those radical anarchists who created our country, and our constitution, were atheists.

  85. #85 Dylan Stafne
    September 28, 2007

    Bill O’Reilly had a piece on this walk-out this evening, and lamented the “secular progressivism” of Boulder, and of San Francisco. God damn he’s a moron.

  86. #86 BglBttr
    September 29, 2007

    “Gott mit uns” – (god with us). Belt buckle inscription of german nazi soldiers.

  87. #87 Kseniya
    September 29, 2007

    God damn he’s a moron.

    In other news, Pope revealed to be Catholic.

  88. #88 Kausik Datta
    September 29, 2007

    The discussion about flags and oaths of allegiance strikes a chord. In India, apart from the National Anthem (which talks about unity of the nation in its diversity), there is no requirement of any particular pledge to anything in the schools. But there is a law that prohibits flag burning, or desecration of the flag in any way. Even private citizens are not allowed to carry the national flag (except on important national holidays), for the fear that they may not properly “respect” the flag.

    When I questioned what seemed to me to be an inordinate display of emotions towards a piece of cloth or paper, I was told that the flag per se was indeed a piece of cloth, but its importance lay in what it represented, the nation. For example, the Indian flag at the United Nations represents the country’s affiliation to the world body. Therefore, any disrespectful act towards the flag (such as public burning etc.) is considered to be symbolic of a disrespect towards the nation, the people.

    May I ask your opinions on that idea?

  89. #89 Robert Thille
    September 29, 2007

    SteveM, I didn’t miss the second part of that phrase, but why include the flag at all, much less make it first? “And to the Republic for which it stands” I still say that the _ideals_ behind the Constitution are much more important than the flag, _and_ the Republic. If the country were to continue a great deal further along the direction G.W. Bush has set out for us, ignoring the Constitution and it’s guarantees of freedom, would the Republic deserve allegiance? If the Constitution were ammended to remove religious freedom and require everyone to have a Muslim or Christian faith, would it still deserve allegiance?

  90. #90 RamblinDude
    September 29, 2007

    Therefore, any disrespectful act towards the flag (such as public burning etc.) is considered to be symbolic of a disrespect towards the nation, the people.

    May I ask your opinions on that idea?

    Interesting how the sacredness of symbols increases in direct proportion to authoritarianism.

  91. #91 Jesurgislac
    September 29, 2007

    When I visited New York in February 2002, the first thing I noticed (I’d never been to New York before) was the infestation of US flags. More flags than I’d ever seen before even in the US, on shop windows, hanging from windows, in doorways, on doors – all over the place.

    Except when I visited Harlem. There, I saw exactly two flags, the whole time I was there, both of them hanging from the windows of private homes.

    The UK doesn’t do flag-worship the way the US does: Americans who have visited have noted with surprise that no private houses ever have flagpoles in the garden, that few shops or restaurants or businesses have a flag.

    OTOH, I had to sit through 15 minutes of mandatory Christian worship every week when I was at school, and legally, it should have been every day.

  92. #92 R(k)
    September 29, 2007

    Hard to believe this is even (still) an issue. I don’t see anything wrong with a student being quiet or, as I did in school, simply leave out “under god”. My middle school, smack in the middle of a Navy and Marine housing community in SoCal no less, TOLD us we should do as much if we preferred to on the first day of orientation. That was 20 some years ago.

    Though admittedly today I would probably find myself omitting “with liberty and justice for all” as well.

  93. #93 Sheldon
    September 29, 2007

    You would be amazed at the wingnut reaction to these students in Boulder, check the link below! Yikes! In their “pro-American” zeal they are totalitarians!

    http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_7016257#42972

  94. #94 PhysioProf
    September 29, 2007

    This was heartening (from the Foxnews article):

    “Principal Bud Jenkins told the Camera newspaper on its Web site Thursday the pledge will not be moved, but added he was proud of the students for standing up for their beliefs.”

  95. #95 Jamie G.
    September 29, 2007

    Double on Bill O’Reilly. I watched him give his two cents on the issue. Gawd, what a jack@ss!

    And how is ”secular progressive” a bad thing? Hey Bill, break it down….p-r-o-g-r-e-s-s, isn’t that what we all want? I guess not. I’d love to see an SNL skit spoofing O’Reilly in the medieval Dark Ages, or better yet, with a Brittish accent lamenting the ”Progressives” who moved to the New Colonies and declared their independence.

    The only person who pisses me off more than Bill O’Reilly is Rod Parsley and the Center For Moral Clarity. They are all bastards!

  96. #96 Porlock Junior
    September 30, 2007

    SteveM (#16) went to a remarkable school. On reading about the kids’ proceeding to hold truths self-evident, I thought of the possibilities for further expansion of that educational experience (which he hinted at in #67, as it turns out).

    Think of it — in middle school they add “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

    Into high school, with “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” Heh.

    Before thy graduate, it’s all together now: “and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Heh indeed.

    College is a good time to learn about prudence indeed.

  97. #97 DDeden
    September 30, 2007

    “I’m impressed with these high school students who protested the American loyalty oath to a god”

    “these high school students who protested .. to a god”

    Either the govt is a god, or there’s a missing comma or something. or I need to go back to bed.

  98. #98 Aesmael
    October 1, 2007

    “I’m impressed with these high school students who protested the American loyalty oath to a god”

    “these high school students who protested .. to a god”

    Either the govt is a god, or there’s a missing comma or something. or I need to go back to bed.

    [S]tudents who protested the American {loyalty oath to a god}?

  99. #99 Anton Mates
    October 1, 2007

    Kausik,

    When I questioned what seemed to me to be an inordinate display of emotions towards a piece of cloth or paper, I was told that the flag per se was indeed a piece of cloth, but its importance lay in what it represented, the nation. For example, the Indian flag at the United Nations represents the country’s affiliation to the world body. Therefore, any disrespectful act towards the flag (such as public burning etc.) is considered to be symbolic of a disrespect towards the nation, the people.

    I would say that the government has no business punishing disrespect. Disrespect is an attitude, not an action; if I am disrespected it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If a nation can’t win the respect of most of its own people, it’s doing something wrong.

    Beyond that, though, most people burning their own country’s flag aren’t expressing disrespect towards the nation and it’s people. They’re usually expressing disrespect towards their government, and denying that it or its flag is truly representative of the people it rules. Interpreting that as “disrespect towards the people” is a nice little frame-job that places the very issue the protester wants to raise off-limits to discussion.

  100. #100 DingoDave
    October 1, 2007

    I wonder how long it will take before some of these fanatical American nationalists insist on the re-introduction of the ‘Bellamy salute’ which originally accompanied the recitation of the pledge.
    See here.
    http://rexcurry.net/wikipedialies.html

    My dear Americans, your popular culture is beginning to display some worrying trends.
    For a truly scary read, go here.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=5487
    Here’s a brief summary of this article.

    Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps
    by Naomi Wolf

    From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all.

    1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
    2. Create a gulag
    3. Develop a thug caste
    4. Set up an internal surveillance system
    5. Harass citizens’ groups
    6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
    7. Target key individuals
    8. Control the press
    9. Dissent equals treason
    10. Suspend the rule of law

    I hope that your citizens can quickly begin to reverse some of these appalling developments, for all our sakes.

  101. #101 Efendi
    March 5, 2008

    very nice website

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