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May 29, 2011 1:29 AM   Subscribe

An updated Pledge of Allegiance

About the US Pledge of Allegiance
posted by Blazecock Pileon (72 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah... I think I'll just sit back and watch this one develop...
posted by nanojath at 1:33 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're just giving those kids free Ritalin? Socialsim! What has this country come to?
posted by Winnemac at 1:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


One nation... underwhelming...
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:54 AM on May 29, 2011


So, we agree this creepy artifact from McCarthyism should go away then? Okay.
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


They're just giving those kids free Ritalin? Socialsim! What has this country come to?

Heh, you guys...

* googles Pledge of Allegiance *
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898).
You guys!!!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:12 AM on May 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist, and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898).

Read on:

Bellamy "viewed his Pledge as an 'inoculation' that would protect immigrants and native-born but insufficiently patriotic Americans from the 'virus' of radicalism and subversion."

This Bellamy guy. Has anyone seen his birth certificate? Are we sure he was a 'real' American?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:28 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age? I honestly don't remember giving it much more thought than brushing my teeth. It was just something you did, because the alternative was getting bitched at harshly.

I remember seeing a couple Jehovah's Witness kids sitting around not reciting it and thinking, "What the hell is wrong with you?" However, it wasn't rooted in any patriotic sentiment, I just thought they were being difficult. Just like when they refused to hand out Valentine's Day cards like the rest of us. I'm not sure they were cognizant of why they weren't reciting it any more than I was aware of the reasons I was standing there flapping my mouth.
posted by secondhand pho at 2:36 AM on May 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

We moved to Texas from Canada when I was in fourth grade. Apparently, reciting this loyalty oath is a big deal in American elementary schools, particularly down south. Not having memorized the Pledge ahead of time, I wasn't too popular with teacher or the other students.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:40 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


This and cookies and milk are two things I never understood about America.
posted by Summer at 2:43 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

Didn't like it. Instinctively felt it was not a good thing. Once junior high came around, and I was old enough to start to get a clear idea of what was going on with the Vietnam war and the anti-war protest movement, I stopped reciting it. I'd just stand up with the rest of the class while it was being recited. Remaining seated wouldn't have been a viable option down in Alabammy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:50 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age? I honestly don't remember giving it much more thought than brushing my teeth. It was just something you did, because the alternative was getting bitched at harshly.

I felt it was weird, cultish brainwashing material and I hated being forced to swear an oath of allegiance to something I didn't know enough about to actually make that choice. It felt uncomfortable and wrong and weird.

Granted I was a very serious and dour little kid and was reading stuff like 1984 and Brave New World around the same time.

I remember I used to stand there and just mouth nonsense, or not actually put my hand in the right place. Or I'd cross my fingers.
posted by loquacious at 2:51 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


hat were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

I never did. From K-12 I never recited the pledge. It seems like a goofy anachronism.

I remember seeing a couple Jehovah's Witness kids sitting around not reciting it and thinking, "What the hell is wrong with you?" However, it wasn't rooted in any patriotic sentiment, I just thought they were being difficult.

I couldn't have summed up the problems with reciting the pledge better myself. Why should kids have to choose between making their classmates think such things about them and remaining in good standing with their god?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 3:04 AM on May 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


"What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?"

Let's see. I was probably exposed to this in kindergarten, that would have been 1953.

It was a daily ritual. At first it was mystical... that "under god" part, and the fact that we might be invisible.

The "liberty and justice for all" piece made sense, I liked saying that part. I had no idea what "the republic for which it stands" meant..I had no idea what a "republic" was.

Those were pretty patriotic days, it felt important to be making this statement.

Somewhere in Jr. High School that started to change, we started talking about religion and politics and had permission, in our own group, to question the old givens, it was time to consider socialism, atheism, and once the '60's started rolling in, devient sexual behaviors. The pledge became less of a means of participation and more of a symbol of what we wanted to escape from.

After elementary school, the pledge wasn't a daily event, it was reserved for special school assemblies and larger group activities.

Now days, I'm seldom exposed to the pledge, but when I am, it's a very different experience. It's recitation is usually connected to smaller groups, older people, and has much more meaning than it ever did. I attend "Veterans for Peace" events once in a while...those guys recite it at the start of every meeting. I was invited to an Optimist Club meeting a month ago, they were making a donation to my non-profit, they recited it, an interesting very diverse group, black, white, male, female, affluent, sort of poor, it had meaning in that context as well.

I suppose it could be seen as brain washing...but, that's what we made it, that wasn't the original intent. I found this little blurb this morning, which I thought was interesting, and put it in a bit of a different light:

"The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

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


It's easy to be dismissive of the Pledge, it sounds old, it sounds trite. Patriotism has been associated with a lot of evil crap recently. But, let's not throw it out because of the extreme right wing, the militia types, the teabaggers, they co-opted it, they've twisted it, and we shouldn't consider it as belonging to those types of groups.

Of course, this whole comment could have been prompted by the fact that the item I read just before I opened the MeFi, was this.

Happy Memorial Day, folks.
posted by tomswift at 3:21 AM on May 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


I would always try to imagine the reason that at some point in our nations history a daily loyalty oath became required for children.

There must have been some sort of elementary school revolt or general strike or something that's been covered up.

You know Hitler went to elementary school. True fact.
posted by Bonzai at 3:26 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


tomswift, my father was a WWII veteran who was part of the crew of one plane shot down over the Pacific. He never talked much about it, just saying he 'bobbed around in the ocean for a few hours' before being rescued, but it obviously shaped who he was. IMO, there was more Post-Traumatic Stress among the WWII vets than most people think.

My father was one of the 1000 who died on April 12, 2011, and he never saw the Veterans Memorial.

Happy Memorial Day.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:10 AM on May 29, 2011


But, let's not throw it out because of the extreme right wing, the militia types, the teabaggers, they co-opted it, they've twisted it, and we shouldn't consider it as belonging to those types of groups.

Well there's that inconvenient "under God" bit which has become something of a sticking point. Either the pledge has it or we don't do the pledge according to a great many Americans. If that's the choice I'm going to be faced with, I'm going to throw the pledge out.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 4:15 AM on May 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Doublewhiskeycokenoice... I can certainly understand and support that position.
posted by tomswift at 4:25 AM on May 29, 2011


I find it sad that most America's can reel off the Pledge without a moment's thought, but seem to have little thought about its meaning or knowledge of its history.

Meanwhile, we can't even come close to listing all the Bill of Rights. We can remember the pledge but not our actual rights.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:30 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


the Jesuits had it right. Get kids young enough and you have them forever.
posted by Postroad at 5:03 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


We can remember the pledge but not our actual rights.

We have the right to remain silent!

unless in grade school at Pledge of Allegiance reciting time
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:08 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't understand the point of that documentary.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:10 AM on May 29, 2011


As a small-town, twice-a-week newspaper hack, I stand and say the pledge at least a couple times a week at various municipal and school board meetings. I figure it would be a distraction and cause animosity, making my job harder, if I didn't.

But I replace the phrase, "under god" with "of the people." I don't mumble nor do I shout. I say it loud enough, I suppose, for others to hear. I have never noticed any reaction. This is a conservative rural area, but there is also a strong independent and libertarian tradition round these parts, balanced with a tendency toward politeness that says you don't make a fuss unless you have to.

I assume that most folks don't really think about what they are saying when reciting the pledge. Otherwise, how do my religious neighbors, mistrusting big government as they do, square with the idea that god's in charge of a government that's such a mess?
posted by tommyD at 5:12 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Look at all those kids giving the US flag the Nazi salute.
posted by caddis at 5:37 AM on May 29, 2011


Otherwise, how do my religious neighbors, mistrusting big government as they do, square with the idea that god's in charge of a government that's such a mess?

Ineffable plan. Next.
posted by pompomtom at 5:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


secondhand pho: What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

I didn't. I went to a school where we did not say the Pledge of Allegiance, although we did learn it one year in history class and I can recite it. (That was the same year we debated the constitutionality of the Pledge, in fact.)

I actually have no issue with the line by line sentiment, but think it's inclusion in public schools violates separation of church and state and find little kids mindlessly reciting it to be more than a little creepy. But then I find all rote recitation by groups to be brainwashy and creepy, to the point where as an adult I have excused myself from all masses and other religious and civic ceremonies where anything that sounds like group chanting takes place. For some reason, this form of collectivism really pushes my squick buttons. All I hear is "groupthink, groupthink!" and I find it surprisingly threatening.

I do not experience this at protest marches, perhaps because the call and response is more impromptu and the groups participating it are self-selecting.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:37 AM on May 29, 2011


I don't understand the point of that documentary.

i'm surprised, as it's pretty ham-handed satire

a more truthful and accurate parody would be to hand them all dollar bills and pledge allegiance to them
posted by pyramid termite at 5:37 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


a more truthful and accurate parody would be to hand them all dollar bills and pledge allegiance to them

I think they covered that essential idea pretty well by having the kids pledge allegiance to the names of a few big corporations.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:42 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never thought about what the words meant. Few do, I suspect.

Kids are used to being ordered to perform what are, to them, arbitrary and pointless commands.

It's useful training for when they get jobs.
posted by Trurl at 5:46 AM on May 29, 2011


Trurl: It's useful training for when they get jobs.

I wish I shared your optimism.
posted by gman at 5:52 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


At that age, very little about my surroundings made much sense to me. The fact that the words didn't seem to really say anything was appropriate. It's the same as how they started telling me to Not Do Drugs when I was already taking prescription medication.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:55 AM on May 29, 2011


What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

By the time I entered high school, I was reciting my own parody version:

I led the pigeons to the flag of the retarded state of america, but notary public, for rich is stands, damnation under guard, individual, with gibberish and mustard for all.

I'd have gotten away with it, too, but they noticed I was using my left hand to salute and called me down to the principal's office.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:57 AM on May 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


The Pledge was part of the beginning and end of my life as a middle school revolutionary. Because my mother had fanned the flames of my self-importance by continually reminding me that, no matter what anyone said, I was special, and that God had a plan for me. Of course, we were Presbyterians, and therefore Calvinists, under the rule of predestination, but I was sufficiently vain as to believe God had a plan for me in particular.

This held even after I decided, at about thirteen, that I was an atheist and a communist. I'd been reading a lot, and I found an ancient anti-communist screed at a yard sale, one of the kind where a Phyllis Schlafy type breathlessly recounted what she thought communists believe, and just like the anti-Hilary ravings of the last election, I read through it and thought, "hey, I can get behind this." It's funny, sometimes, how the terrifying predictions of the Right sound sort of nice, when you consider the mortifying Aqua-Net stiff-upper-lip star-spangled Reagan years as the standard being challenged.

I read and read, devouring Marxist dogma in stacks of dogeared yard sale paperbacks, found and joined the Young Communist League, to the smirking bemusement of my father, who shrugged and merely cautioned that I might be endangering my later in life run for Senator or my prospects for a high level security clearance, which was an actual consideration, considering I lived (and still live) smack dab in spook country, where an awful lot of jobs call for a clearance. I was a communist for the Howard County School System, and it was a nice sort of thing to be, something to set me apart that wasn't my gawky lack of flair, my aimless chattiness, or my perverse love of contradicting everyone in the world.

My social studies teacher was the perfect foil, an actual Republican with a Chevette and a bag of snarkish disdain for even-handed political education, and I was truly in my element. I'd heckle our classes about American government, point out the inequities inherent in the system, and otherwise be a loud, too-clever thorn in the side of The Man, by which I mean the harried teachers in a suburban school district. It was a sad day when I chanced upon the history of the Pledge and its socialist writer, made even worse by the genuine anti-American outrage of the words "under God" being tacked on in the McCarthy fifties by an axe-grinding religious pressure group that also managed to work it into the design of our currency.

"I just don't understand why I'm not more popular," I explained to the school's guidance counselor in a session, "when I'm on the side of what's right!"

At the morning two minutes hate, when we'd all stand up, hands on hearts, and chant out the dirge of the Pledge, I'd turn my back to the flag, raise a fist, and say "for the workers of the world" in a sort of growl. It always got titters and little mental notes for all the bullies, and it's interesting in retrospect to ponder how being a bullied kid for years can really push you over the edge in due time, to just make you go for broke and take a stand for the opposite of everything.

If I'd been smarter, I'd have articulated my case better, but it's a commendable thing that I was never punished for my refusal to say the Pledge. Possibly that was because they knew it would encourage me, and possibly it was because, with the exception of Mr. Social Studies, my teachers were more sympathetic to my view than to the rules. I was the snake in the garden, though, and I managed to recruit a few other oddballs, and we organized the first-ever Hammond Middle School Workers' Party—a paltry, distracted sort of collection of revolutionaries that amounted to not much more than three disaffected nerd kids grumbling at the unpopular end of the cafeteria.

It didn't take long for us to realize that the goal of empowering the workers wasn't going to happen without getting us into more or less permanent detention and even suspension, and my workers' party collapsed in partisan squabbling. Fortunately, I salvaged our esprit du corps by suggesting that we affect the air of Belgian intellectuals instead, and the Revolution failed in favor of pretentious discussions of poetry with a hint of a French accent.

I still didn't say the Pledge, but I'd just fall into a sullen, defeated silence instead, watching the smug social studies teacher and imagining that I could just concentrate real hard like in The Fury and kill him with my mind. Harsh, I know, but it was 1981, our president was a grinning hateful actor grunted out of the asshole of politics by the Moral Majority, the country was lurching into gruesome right wingery, and I was thirteen.

Then, of course, I read the autobiography of Malcolm X, bought a dashiki at a yard sale, whoofed my greasy, stringy hair up into a sort of sad, lopsided white boy 'fro, and started telling my teachers that I would no longer answer to my name, substituting "X" for my given last name and pointing out, helpfully, that I'd rejected my slave name. That's a whole other sad story, though.

Middle school is a hell of a drug, alas.

Amusingly enough, though, I did get a security clearance later in life, one requiring an investigation of months and months, with interviews and questionnaires and bottles of urine and so forth, and the interviewer in one meeting chuckled and said "Young Communist League, huh?"

My eyebrows shot up and I felt a pay raise evaporating, but it was just a blip. Enough of a blip to make me silently curse that goddamn permanent record teachers were always talking about, but just a blip.

"I'm gay, too," I chirped, remembering I'd read that that was only a security matter when it was a secret thing.

"We know," the interviewer said, with a smile and a raised eyebrow.

I think my mouth made a subtle little "o" then, but memory is a fragile thing. I got my clearance, which escalated over the years to the point that I still get follow-up investigations on a couple of the microfilm jobs I worked that were sensitive enough to require a refresher warning in the sensitive nature of such data. Of course, it could be that I didn't pay attention at the time while I was slapping papers down on a Bell & Howell planetary microfilm camera and pushing a button, over and over, day after endless day, and don't know a damn thing about anything, but maybe I just can't tell you because then I'd have to kill you.

Possibly, even, with my mind.
posted by sonascope at 5:58 AM on May 29, 2011 [61 favorites]


In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps his eye on us all.
He used to lean upon me
As I pledged allegience to the wall

Lord I recall
My little town

posted by Meatbomb at 6:02 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just want to remind everyone that the "under god" part divided the "our country" from "indivisible" in 1954. Despite growing up in a household that was both reasonably patriotic and also quite religious, I was aware of this from a fairly young age. My father recollected when they changed what he was supposed to say and felt strongly that it was a bad thing. I was both taught the same concern and ultimately inherited much of the viewpoint.

tomswift, I wonder if the "under god" part seems so important to you in your memory because it was magically added during the first year in which you were learning the pledge.
posted by meinvt at 6:42 AM on May 29, 2011


And of course I meant "one nation", not "our country". Must wake up before posting.
posted by meinvt at 6:43 AM on May 29, 2011


Yeah, this whole idea of mandatory group promising always struck me as immensely sinister and distasteful, and something more appropriate to a totalitarian dictatorship than the (*cough*) "Land Of The Free". It used to be accompanied by a more appropriate salute.

You guys really need to drop the whole thing altogether.
posted by Decani at 6:43 AM on May 29, 2011


Having to say it again as an adult at every school board meeting has made me reflect on it a lot more than I ever did as a child reciting it in school; I feel like it would be more useful, both pedagogically and patriotically, if we had the children recite the Bill of Rights, the preamble to the Constitution, the beginning of the Declaration, maybe the Gettysburg address or part of an MLK speech ... foundational and crucially important documents of the United States, taking them each a month in turn.

At least that way by the time you graduated you'd be able to rattle off the first ten amendments automatically, even if you never paused to ponder on what they meant as a child. That's potentially useful rote knowledge!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:00 AM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was a goody-two-shoes in elementary school, so I didn't really think about saying the pledge. They got me young; what can I say?

In 7th grade I got a summer job as a T.A. back at the same elementary school. In order to be employed, I had to get a Social Security Number, and go down to the district office and sign a loyalty oath. To help 3rd graders make English muffin pizzas. In a non-subversive manner.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:03 AM on May 29, 2011


Is there a transcript somewhere?
posted by humanfont at 7:15 AM on May 29, 2011


I read and read, devouring Marxist dogma in stacks of dogeared yard sale paperbacks, found and joined the Young Communist League

Heh. I was YCL in my early teens as well. We'd sit around and study The British Road to Socialism. No wonder the Trots got all the hot chicks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:28 AM on May 29, 2011


I came to the US (from Sweden) for my senior year in high school, at a small school in suburban Atlanta. I remember vividly my confusion at the very first "homeroom" recitation of the Pledge on my first day. I had never heard it before - or even heard of it before - and they made everyone stand up and recite it, prompted by a loudspeaker announcement and the homeroom teacher angrily saying "stand up, for goodness sakes" at me when I didn't pop to my feet fast enough.

The vacant eyes of my new classmates as they droned on, the teacher continuing to glare at me and miming placing my hand on my heart, was one of the most surreal and disconcerting experiences ever. The first few weeks were pretty hellish in general, but that really stood out for me. I never actually recited the Pledge then, but I learned quickly that it was best to at least stand up and put my hand on my heart, so as to escape notice.

It was a weird experience too when I got my citizenship and got to actually recite the pledge as part of the ceremony. I was one of the few people at my swearing-in who seemed familiar with it - the words came back very easily, I didn't even have to read them off the PowerPoint slide!
posted by gemmy at 7:34 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I used to have a similar experience in church, when the congregation would recite The Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.


There was this stultifying flatness to the sound of hundreds of voices joylessly intoning this strange religious snippet that would feel very, very familiar to me years later whenever Star Trek had the Borg speak in that collective chant as they threatened the universe. Now, most things will lose their power and potency in a mass chant, from the mantras of communism to the delicacies of faith, but it always just struck me as such a curious means of indoctrination.

If you say a word over and over and over, your brain will disconnect it from its meaning, and you'll have that interesting synaesthesic experience of hearing the word as a noise, as a little confection of the tongue and bands of muscle at the back of the throat. It works for memory, in how people of my generation can't say "0-2-1-3-4" without singing it because of ZOOM, and advertising, where people who've never bought a carpet in their life will answer a call of "5-8-8" with "2-300, Empiiiiiiiire!"

Even in its pure form, the Pledge seems desensitizing, almost perfect to make you glaze over at the invocation of the good things about our country. I wonder if it's just a relic of the old world and the old ways, when we still believed in beating the rules in people with constant repetition. What works to teach you numbers doesn't do much to teach you about a complex thing like our country, or does it? Does the chant survive out of habit and tradition, or are some of us just sort of immune to the real lesson?

Back in church, I'd hear them talk about love and joy and awe, but I'd just hear it in that same colossal massed monotone, a meaningless string of sounds telling a story that you couldn't even begin to hear over the assemblage of phonemes propagated as compression waves in a gaseous medium.

AMEN.

Ummm...okay?
posted by sonascope at 8:00 AM on May 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


I liked reciting the pledge in school when I was little. I started leaving out the "under god" part when I realized what I was saying sometime in second grade, and it made me feel really subversive at an age where you really can't do anything about your place in the world.
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 AM on May 29, 2011


I remember I used to stand there and just mouth nonsense

Matt Groening taught me the version of the pledge I took in my later school years: "I pledge allegiance to the united snakes of a merry cow, and to the republicans, for which it scams..." etc.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:14 AM on May 29, 2011


sonascope, it's less confusing when you're Jewish. You at least recognized words, words that you used at the dinner table. In Hebrew school we learned the V'ahavta. It's about 10 lines of Hebrew. We used to do wind-sprints to see who could say it fastest. I bet I can recite it now:

V'ahvta et adonay eloheycha, oo v'khol nafshechah ....

Nope, I've lost it. But even then it was complete gibberish to me. It was an excellent early lesson that a lot of ritual is meaningless stuff you do to make adults happy.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:14 AM on May 29, 2011


sonascope: There was this stultifying flatness to the sound of hundreds of voices joylessly intoning this strange religious snippet that would feel very, very familiar to me years later whenever Star Trek had the Borg speak in that collective chant as they threatened the universe.

Yes, thank you, that is exactly why it freaks me out. It's chilling.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:39 AM on May 29, 2011


I'm always surprised by how many of my high school students get up and say it clearly, though not with any apparent passion. I personally don't care if they do, and I don't think many of my colleagues do either (though I guess you never know). Somehow the institution survives even in the absence of anybody actually invested in it.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:41 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. When I was a freshman in high school, famous alum Steve Wozniak came to speak to the student body. First thing he did was have us all stand up and recite a parody allegiance to him, which we all did quite merrily. Parents and faculty witnessing this were PISSED.

2. I went to my nephew's high school graduation this week, and the retired Army colonel who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance screwed it up. Like majorly screwed it up. "I pledge allegiance to the United States of America for which it stands, one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all." The entire crowd stood around with their hands on their hearts looking at one another with "that was weird" expressions on their faces.
posted by queensissy at 8:52 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll second humanfont and ask for a transcript. I had my speakers turned up, but I had a hard time understanding what the children were saying except for a few words here and there.
posted by Calzephyr at 8:58 AM on May 29, 2011


Here's a transcript for everyone who wanted one. I'm pretty sure I got all the words down.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
Thank you very, very much for letting us little kids live here.
It really, really was nice of you.
You didn't have to do it, and it's really not creepy to have little, little kids mindlessly recite this anthem every day and pledge their life to a government before they're old enough to really think about what they're saying.

This is not a form of brainwashing.
This is not a form of brainwashing.
This is not a form of brainwashing.

This is really the greatest country in the whole world,
all the other countries suck.
If this country ever goes to war, as it often wants to do, I promise to help go and kill all the other country's kids.

God bless Johnson and Johnson.
God bless GE.
God bless citigroup.

Amen.

Very good, kids, now come and get your Ritalin.
posted by phunniemee at 9:07 AM on May 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Calzephyr: "I'll second humanfont and ask for a transcript. I had my speakers turned up, but I had a hard time understanding what the children were saying except for a few words here and there."

Here's the subtitled version for you.
posted by gman at 9:09 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks guys! I'm surprised they picked Johnson and Johnson over Procter and Gamble.
posted by Calzephyr at 9:15 AM on May 29, 2011


Calzephyr: I'm surprised they picked Johnson and Johnson over Procter and Gamble.

You think satirical videos are immune from exclusive advertising rights for the highest bidder?
posted by gman at 9:42 AM on May 29, 2011


I never gave much thought to the pledge of allegiance, but when I moved to Texas in high school it blew my mind that we were also required to say a pledge of allegiance to the texas flag.
posted by meta87 at 9:43 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


the Jesuits had it right. Get kids young enough and you have them forever.

... or they become atheists. YMMV.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:01 AM on May 29, 2011


God bless Johnson and Johnson.
God bless GE.
God bless citigroup.


A megabank, a weapons and nuke plant maker: safe.
A megacorp that bills itself "a family company": pretty safe.
No giant tax-cheating CEO-hates-teachers-unions companies that are "cool": wimp out.

At least the Corporate American Flag has the fruit & the fries & the search.
posted by morganw at 10:07 AM on May 29, 2011


I pledge allegiance to Queen Fragg and her mighty state of hysteria...
posted by Existential Dread at 11:20 AM on May 29, 2011


Oops. I got the oath wrong:

"I plead alignment to the flakes of the untitled snakes of a merry cow and to the republicans for which they scam one nacho, underpants with licorice and jugs of wine for owls."
posted by saulgoodman at 11:52 AM on May 29, 2011 [2 favorites]



You think satirical videos are immune from exclusive advertising rights for the highest bidder?


Well no, it just seems to me that P&G has its tentacles in more things than Johnson and Johnson, but that's just IMHO.
posted by Calzephyr at 12:08 PM on May 29, 2011


What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

I had vague, nascent suspicions about it, which were most likely triggered by a MAD magazine cartoon I'd read around age 7 (involving, as I recall, a white businessman reciting the pledge while thinking something like "with exceptions for certain ethnic groups and political dissidents" when he got to the "liberty and justice for all" bit) and which eventually blossomed into early teenage resistance and contempt, most certainly encouraged by a steady diet of punk rock.

Of course, I'm one of those "difficult" people who doesn't stand up for the national anthem at ball games, either, unless it's to strategically duck out to get a hotdog.
posted by scody at 12:56 PM on May 29, 2011


I have no problem with the pledge...

...as long as I can add "for all who can afford it" to the end.

With our new governor gutting the schools, none of the teachers have done anything but smile. I'm hoping my daughter will pick up on this as she enters kindergarten
posted by Redhush at 1:03 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would've been my freshman year of high school when I finally got busted for not saying the pledge.

I want to say I had stopped saying it out of rebellion or a nascent sense of activism, but honestly it was pure pedantry dating back to early grammar school. I knew what "indivisible" meant and I knew that we were divided into 50 states and therefore the pledge was factually incorrect and therefore I wasn't going to say it. I was that kind of kid.

(In later years I discovered a disbelief in God and started questioning that whole "liberty and justice for all" thing, but those more reasoned objections were after the fact; really I was just a terribly uncompromising pedant with no sense of poetry.)

So for quite a few years of school I'd stand up with everyone else and put my hand somewhere vaguely appropriate and quietly daydream about whatever while the rest of the kids either droned through the real pledge or mouthed the words or did their own equally stupid made-up versions and I don't remember anyone ever noticing that I wasn't saying it until the day that someone did.

It was during one of those awful "spirit rallies" where they'd drag everyone out of class and into the gym tobe hectored by loudspeaker into approving of the football team at length and high volume, but only after making us all say the Pledge again en masse.

And I was standing there quietly pretending I wasn't there, which was pretty much my plan until they'd let us go back to class, and one of the other kids noticed I wasn't saying the pledge and made some gesture like why aren't you saying the pledge? and I sort of shrugged at her because it's not like I had a well-articulated explanation for why I wasn't saying the pledge, I just didn't say it is all, and the pledge ended and I sat down and waited until they'd decide the football team was sufficiently adored and release us back to class.

And when we went back to class my French teacher let us all get seated and then instead of teaching us any French that day spent the period shouting at me, accusing me of disrespecting the greatest nation on earth and I should be ashamed and people died for my rights and what do I think about that and etc.

He was, I guess, trying to humiliate me by doing this in front of the other kids, or else make an object lesson out of me, but that was a terrible miscalculation on his part: I was a curve-breaking pedantic math nerd in flood pants who spent his lunch hour playing Dungeons & Dragons with the other nerds; I already knew everything there was to know about public humiliation. And the only object lesson I represented to the other kids was don't be a pedantic math nerd in flood pants. If anything he temporarily raised my social status for a while.

I'd like to say I came back at him with an articulate defense of my position, rallied the other kids in support, or at least tried to argue with him and got kicked out of class, but I wasn't that kind of kid. I just sat quietly and waited until he was done and then spent every French class until the end of the year watching him lecture and thinking through what he'd said, and really for the first time considering what each line of the pledge actually meant and why people would get so upset over it, and eventually coming to the conclusion that he, and it, were wrong in every possible way.

He wanted these words to produce a belief and a faith and a sense of nationalism in me; when really all they could do was let those who already held those beliefs reaffirm it, and try to make the rest of us feel bad for being left out. And he though he could brute-force that belief into me by shouting more loudly. And most importantly and most shockingly I realized he represented the majority: enough people really did believe these things that they really could force the rest of us to sit through it. But they couldn't force us to believe it.

I learned a lot from that French teacher. The opposite of what he wanted me to learn, and almost no French at all, but it was very educational anyway.



This video, incidentally, was terrible. Blunt heavy-handed ineffective bullshit choir-preaching propaganda. But it brought back that memory I'd almost forgotten for good. So thanks for that.
posted by ook at 1:31 PM on May 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I switched from a public to a private school in middle school, and remember being caught totally off-balance in homeroom on my first day when we didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance. I never once thought about what the words meant, but recited it every single school day from age 6-12, and it was a weirdly radical experience to realize, oh wait, why the hell did we do that? It got me thinking about how bizarre the content of the Pledge is, which I think was a real unintended gift from my new school. The odd part about it was that in almost every other way, the private school was far more conservative and rigid; we had prayers broadcast over the PA system before football games and I got detention more times than I can remember for having my shirt untucked. I wonder whether the lack of the Pledge had more to do with residual Civil War tensions (might sound crazy but this was in Atlanta, at a school that was proud of being established not long after Reconstruction).
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 2:05 PM on May 29, 2011


What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

That it was a rote exercise that I had to comply with, although I recall occasional swellings of some form of patriotic communality that I was supposed to feel. There was some hippy-dippy American History teacher in 9th grade, who liked to be called Mr. B., who started off one class questioning why we said the Pledge at all. His room was done up in swirls and psychedelic flowers and was quite unlike the blank beige walls of other classrooms. All the guys in the class spent parts of lunch hours debating whether Mr. B was a homo or not. I remember thinking how weird it was that he got away with having different walls and making assertions about US history that (in retrospect) sounded like they'd been cribbed from Howard Zinn. This was at the beginning of a decade of steady and systematic right-wing shifts on the political pendulum that started with Reagan sacking the air traffic controllers and ended with Bush Senior invading Panama and Jesse Helms and Jerry Falwell intoning against the moral squalor of Robert Mapplethorpe and Karen Finley. By the end of the decade that teacher was probably more conservative than the most right-wing teacher had been at the start of the decade.
posted by blucevalo at 2:34 PM on May 29, 2011




What were your own feelings while reciting this at an early age?

Don't know if I was feeling anything. But I know what I was thinking. Six hours and fifty-nine more minutes until the dismissal bell rings.
posted by notreally at 2:41 PM on May 29, 2011


Rush's album Power Windows came out in 1985, with the song "Territories." I knew all the words, including the lines:

"Better the pride that resides
 in a citizen of the world
 Than the pride that divides
 when a colorful rag is unfurled."

I was about 5, just starting kindergarten. I don't remember ever doing the pledge in K, but when it started in elementary school, I didn't think about the words much. It was a challenge to me to memorize the whole thing, and then to see how fast I could recite it (which got me into trouble a bit). As I got older and started to think about the content and meaning behind what I was saying, well, my allegiances will always fall to my favorite band vs. my homeland. I started by getting a bit sullen at the whole affair, and I started omitting the "under God" when I found out that it was tacked on (and therefore I thought I could get away with it under the flag of patriotism through religious freedom and arguing from the source material). In middle school, I stopped saying it; first by standing and mouthing, then I stopped mouthing, then I would just refuse to stand unless strongly scolded. The whole thing was building to a bit of a fever pitch, but then I went to a high school which didn't say the pledge, and so quite luckily got out of that.
posted by Eideteker at 3:59 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was allowed to stand silent and say nothing. I got a note from my mother and everything.
posted by The Whelk at 4:26 PM on May 29, 2011


When I was a kid (and I ain't old, either), we had to recite the Lord's Prayer. This was in a public school. In Canada.

We also had to sing O Canada, which is essentially the Pledge of Allegiance with "the United States of America" crossed out and "Canada" penciled in, set to a tedious plod of a melody.

Oh, how we envied the Jehovah's Witness kids who got to go and sit quietly in the hallway instead.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:58 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sys Rq, I also went to elementary school in Canada, in a public school, and I remember we sang O Canada at the beginning and end of the school year, when the whole school would assemble in the gym and listen to speeches by the principal and various old people. We also had religious instruction except for those few kids whose parents were nonreligious (or maybe differently religious) and who went to a different room to study ethics. It sounded mysterious and exotic at the time.
posted by pguertin at 6:36 PM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just twice a year? I'm talking every. single. day. Southern Ontario, 1980s.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:42 PM on May 29, 2011


The way I learned the pledge reminds me of the way I learned my school song. At age 11 I started at a Sacred Heart Catholic school and our school song was in French. I had never learned French until that year, so I had to memorize this song in a foreign language with no idea what it meant or even what the individual words were. Even after taking 9 years of French and becoming nearly fluent, I wasn't ever completely sure what the school song was saying because I'm not sure what words the sounds I memorized were supposed to be.

Still remember the song, though.
posted by threeturtles at 10:05 PM on May 29, 2011


meta87: "I never gave much thought to the pledge of allegiance, but when I moved to Texas in high school it blew my mind that we were also required to say a pledge of allegiance to the texas flag"

I know! When my son came home after his first day of school and told me about it, I was astounded. I didn't even know states *had* their own pledges. No place else I've ever lived brought it up, if it existed. They even do it at PTA meetings. It's very strange.
posted by dejah420 at 2:57 PM on May 30, 2011


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