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Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
October 10, 2001 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Forced patriotism? Forced religion? Is this good for the country OR religion? Education Secretary Rod Paige urged all schools to simultaneously recite the Pledge of Allegiance this Friday.
posted by UrbanFigaro (60 comments total)

 
As if that weren't bad enough, Paige went on to emphasize the very MacCarthyism-inspired bit that is so offensive: "We can send a loud and powerful message that will be heard around the world: America is `one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.'" If we learn anything from this, it should be that when religion and government are combined, they are both corrupted.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 2:46 PM on October 10, 2001


(sigh) I'm as America-loving as they come (active-duty AF, etc)...but something about the Pledge of Allegiance just gives me the creeps. It just seems so...Komsomol or Nazi Youth-ish. I've told my children that they do NOT have to recite it at school if they choose not to. Instead, I wish the schools would spend at least those few minutes discussing American principles & ideals, and not simply focus on the "Tea Party" and "cannot tell a lie" stories.

Worst of all, to us atheists of course, is the inclusion of "under god" in the Pledge. And don't get me started on the "In god we trust" on our currency...argh...
posted by davidmsc at 2:53 PM on October 10, 2001


"to urge" is not synonymous with "to force".
posted by Witold at 2:57 PM on October 10, 2001


I dislike the mixing of religion into our pledge as well, but I don't think there's any harm in reciting the pledge of allegiance. This country could do with a little pride from its' people, and there's nothing wrong with starting that early. It may make poeple think more deeply as to what makes this country great, ONE nation, INdivisible, with Liberty and justice for all. (Ahhh...to get rid of the god part) Wouldn't it be great if we could live up to the pledge?
posted by aacheson at 2:58 PM on October 10, 2001


This is so sweet. Maybe we can give them all little arm bands to wear. Ya know, arm bands with an eagle on them or something.
posted by Doug at 3:02 PM on October 10, 2001


Urban/davidmsc: have a mental margarita. Reciting the POA didn't turn anyone I know into a foaming-at-the-mouth patriotic nutjob just itching to kill a commie for Christ. And comparing it to the Nazi Youth? Give me a break!

Most of us were too busy inventing new words, nodding off, or furtively picking our noses while reciting it to get offended by the verbiage.
posted by MrBaliHai at 3:02 PM on October 10, 2001


Let's not get silly here. I can appreciate Figaro's caution when it comes to the mixing of church and state, but the idea behind this is pretty good. I think kids would enjoy the idea of doing something along with every other kid in the nation, and there's nothing wrong with putting a little emphasis on patriotism now and again.

Also, I don't think any of the kids are going to be suckered into fundamentalism by one line in the pledge. Hell, for the first two years of school I thought we were an "invisible" nation. It's just something you do to promote a sort of unity with your classmates.

If you're not buying into this, how about a nice nationwide "USA" chant? USA! USA! USA!
posted by Samsonov14 at 3:08 PM on October 10, 2001


or, even better, since it's harmless and fun, how about a nice organized prayer to allmighty god while we are at it?

Davidmsc, I agree completely. This is a wonderful oppurtunity for the religious right to start stepping on our toes. Damn those Mcarthy witch hunting bastards.
posted by bradth27 at 3:12 PM on October 10, 2001


I was a youth during the gulf war, and I didn't stand for the pledge the day that we bombed Iraq. (Let's not get into whether or not that was right...) The boy next to me kicked me, and i got sent to the principal's office. Other countires, like England don't have anything like the pledge, that's why it's compared to Nazi Germany - its forced patriotism, indoctrination, etc.
posted by goneill at 3:19 PM on October 10, 2001


I remember reciting the pledge all through grade school. Some time between Junior high and High school the practice went away. I'm not a Christian, I'm slighty patriotic, the pledge didn't sway me one way or the other. It teaches kids that we are a nation that says one thing (under God) and does another (freedom of religion). It's just words.

If we don't have kids saying it how will we come up with new and inventive parodies of it? the parodies I did in grade school are tired and old by now.

I also think the"U!S!A!" chant better fits with today's climate than the pledge does.
posted by Dillenger69 at 3:21 PM on October 10, 2001


Reciting the POA didn't turn anyone I know into a foaming-at-the-mouth patriotic nutjob just itching to kill a commie for Christ.

No, but it can sure cause resentment by being forced/urged to do something patriotic AND religious. A lot of students will see this the same way some of here see it and walk away bitter at a country that prides itself on freedoms while playing the HJ game. I second the armbands, at least we can be sincere about it.

A win for the religious right? I'm not sure about it, but this is certainly a step in the wrong direction.
posted by skallas at 3:22 PM on October 10, 2001


From the article : Paige spokeswoman Lindsey Kozberg stressed that taking part in the synchronized pledge recital is voluntary.

Yes, the Sky is falling.
posted by revbrian at 3:26 PM on October 10, 2001


voluntary. heh.
If this thing actually did take shape and get going, believe me...in the South, it wouldn't be voluntary....
posted by bradth27 at 3:29 PM on October 10, 2001


Well, yes, Revbrian, she has to stress that, because it would be illegal for her to force children to take part.
posted by Doug at 3:31 PM on October 10, 2001


Not to love Der Fuehrer is a great disgrace
So we HEIL! HEIL! Right in der Fuehrer's face

posted by owillis at 3:34 PM on October 10, 2001


Anylone care to venture a guess as to when "one nation under god" got put into the pledge?
posted by Postroad at 3:42 PM on October 10, 2001


I assume in the 50's when the "In god we trust" was put onto money?
posted by aacheson at 3:44 PM on October 10, 2001


It would be much more meaningful for everybody in the country to do one big wave, starting on the west coast and ending up on the east. WOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!
Tape it and send it to the Taliban so they can see how united the US is.
posted by signal at 3:44 PM on October 10, 2001


I just don't get the parallel between saying the pledge of allegiance together and Russian military youth training or Nazis. Paranoia in the extreme. Probably the same people who want to ban "murder ball".
posted by JParker at 3:45 PM on October 10, 2001


Postroad - Yeah, the glorious 50's. The Mcarthy era, like I said above. Sorry, I thought everyone knew this....I will learn to be more specific.
posted by bradth27 at 3:51 PM on October 10, 2001


I just don't get...

Freedom = freedom to choose whether to be patriotic or not (see Constitution, US)
posted by owillis at 3:52 PM on October 10, 2001


As I mentioned in another thread, the Pledge is doubleplusgood, but what we really need is a "two minute hate" and a healthy dose of doublethink against those bastards in Afghanistan. Can we get those into the Homeland school curriculum somehow. Right away.

Oceania is at war with the Taliban. Oceania has always been at war with the Taliban. From the beginning of time, regardless of those false memories you have of Stinger sales, you thoughtcriminals.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:55 PM on October 10, 2001


Since displays of the flesh horrify the Taliban, a daily nationwide mooning would be more soul-satisfying than a pledge recital.
posted by nikzhowz at 3:57 PM on October 10, 2001


Well, it's something about conformity and reciting an oath together, JParker. Doesn't feel like the activity that's most true to the spirit of America.

I, for one, would have been much more comfortable and supportive if Paige had said, "We'd like schools to take a day to discuss the Bill of Rights, the ideals we are trying to live up to in our country, and the freedoms we are trying to promote in the world."

That is the kind of thing that reflects the promise of America, not a quasi-religious oath of loyalty.
posted by Chanther at 4:00 PM on October 10, 2001


Postroad: Anyone (sic) care to venture a guess...?

Yah, that's why I posted this link to a very brief page containing some key dates in pledge history.

And please don't take my comments too far -- I do NOT equate the recitation of the pledge with Nazi Youth ceremonies. The idea behind both, however, is to get the wee ones to recite words that they probably don't truly understand. My main point (mangled in my original post - sorry) was that it would be better to spend that minute or two in the morning (or more!) actually *explaining* to the kids what "allegiance," "republic," "liberty," etc, actually mean. Heck, none of us had a clue what the concepts were when WE had to say it every morning ("invisible!"). It's like the "dawnzerly light" of the Nat'l Anthem -- they all say it, but don't quite get it.

Bravo, Chanther -- you said it better than I.
posted by davidmsc at 4:04 PM on October 10, 2001


Oh, yeah... "Freedom = freedom to choose whether to be patriotic or not (see Constitution, US)" Thanks for clarifying! But... we don't always get to choose whether to be patriotic or not. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Be thankful we aren't still drafting our 18 year olds for military service. And shooting anybody who "chooses" to run away from the battles. If you grew up in this country, I'll bet you had to say the POA. Did it ruin your ability to reason? Or did it force you to think about patriotism and what it means? owillis, I want to see you after class...

Chanther, I agree that would have been a more productive exercise. Generally discussion/dialog is more productive than recitation. But in terms of potential harm, I think concerns over reciting the POA are simply ridiculous.
posted by JParker at 4:07 PM on October 10, 2001


I pretty much hate the pledge of allegience, but I don't see any HARM in it. It wont ruin any school kids, and it wont ruin our country. But I do see harm in the adults who want to make our children PLEDGE ALLEGIENCE TO A FLAG. Just writing it is absurd. It is nationalistic bullcrap, and it doesn't serve any purpose, but to force children to do something they shouldn't have to do. Citizens of America should not be forced, or even asked, to pledge their allegience to a flag, or this country.
And the God part is ridiculous. Might as well be "One nation, under the Toothfairy."
posted by Doug at 4:18 PM on October 10, 2001


Did it force me to think about patriotism and what it means? Nope. Not for a second. I stood up and recited words that held no meaning for me. Now, if this were a call to schools around the nation to talk about what democracy and freedom mean and why those concepts are worth defending, I would run through the streets naked with my hair on fire in support. It's not.

Also, would anyone object if the pledge said, "one nation, under Allah"? How about "one nation, godless"? Even better, "one nation, under Lucifer". What? You say that doing so is exclusionary and represents just a fraction of the population? Well, so does "one nation, under god".
posted by UrbanFigaro at 4:30 PM on October 10, 2001


"In God We Trust" was put on our money in 1864.
posted by gd779 at 4:32 PM on October 10, 2001


"We'd like schools to take a day to discuss the Bill of Rights, the ideals we are trying to live up to in our country, and the freedoms we are trying to promote in the world."

And have them join the ACLU or something? Better off with the group chant. If it becomes too unpopular they could always add cheerleaders.
posted by skallas at 4:32 PM on October 10, 2001


I never said the pledge, once I understood what it was saying. I believe 99% of it, but I don't believe in having to say "under God". Florida law (as I understand it) required you to stand, but no more - and I did the minimum.

But... we don't always get to choose whether to be patriotic or not.

But you should, if you believe in the concept of freedom. I don't believe in a draft, even in a situation like the present one. You shouldn't be able to force someone to die for something they may not believe in.

Add to that: unlike other conflicts we've had in the past, I would be willing to fight for this one if necessary, as opposed to fighting a war with a gun pointed in my back by a countryman.
posted by owillis at 4:52 PM on October 10, 2001


A little more Pledge of Allegiance history: The issue (of) whether students may refuse to participate in the flag salute was resolved by the Supreme Court in 1943 in West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette. While the case involved a religious freedom claim brought by Jehovah's Witnesses, the Court made clear that a compulsory flag salute also would violate students' right to freedom of expression. The state cannot "prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion…." Students cannot be compelled to affirm their loyalty "by word or act."
posted by Carol Anne at 4:55 PM on October 10, 2001


If you grew up in this country, I'll bet you had to say the POA.

I, for one, grew up in this country, and was asked to say it only twice (once in 5th grade, by a substitute teacher (I don't think I knew it at the time), and once when I graduated from 8th grade (I declined to say it, and I don't think anyone noticed)). So I suspect it would be quite possible to avoid having to say it at all.

I think this is good. I do not think people should say the pledge of allegiance. It encourages patriotism, love of one's nation, which has consistently been a force for evil wherever it is found.
posted by moss at 5:04 PM on October 10, 2001


Kinda reminds me of this thread. What a touchy subject with MeFi'ers (myself included).
posted by MarkO at 5:09 PM on October 10, 2001


Okay, you've all said some good things, and some people have chimed in pro-pledge, and some-anti-pledge. I meant it earlier when I asked that we not get silly about this. Did I really see a 1984 reference here? Jeez. Maybe it's because I grew up in Mass ("Go back to Massachusetts, pinko") but we didn't have to pledge if we didn't want to . We did because it was fun. I think it stopped after 4th grade. Up until then, we would have chanted anything if it gave us an excuse to do something besides start class. Remember how fun it was to do stuff with kids across the nation? Hands across America anyone? Unity is fun for kids, especially when there is a message (even if we didn't understand it) behind it.

Oh, jeez. What was my point? Oh yeah...

USA! USA! USA!
posted by Samsonov14 at 5:18 PM on October 10, 2001


To pledge or not to pledge... Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School Board members say they will reconsider a motion it passed Monday night that banned schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Source: WISC Channel3000.com (to be enrolled in remedial English composition ASAP).
posted by Carol Anne at 5:39 PM on October 10, 2001


Saying the pledge without understanding it or meaning it is good practice for adult activites like signing contracts and scrolling all the way to the bottom of software license agreements and clicking "OK."
posted by kirkaracha at 5:51 PM on October 10, 2001


Paige spokeswoman Lindsey Kozberg stressed that taking part in the synchronized pledge recital is voluntary.

"However, getting your ass kicked at recess if you don't will be mandatory," she hissed, glaring out across the room while the vein in her forehead throbbed patriotically.
posted by rushmc at 6:05 PM on October 10, 2001


Most of us were too busy inventing new words, nodding off, or furtively picking our noses while reciting it to get offended by the verbiage.

How patriotic of you! I guess that's proof that reciting (note the difference from "saying") the POA really does teach good citizenship and pride in one's country.
posted by rushmc at 6:07 PM on October 10, 2001


[If you grew up in this country, I'll bet you had to say the POA.]

Actually no. I refused to say the pledge for the last two years I spent in high school. Hell, after the first day they didn't even try to get me to stand anymore. It was more a rebellion against feeling forced into it than the pledge itself. I got a lot of funny looks and threats but no real problems.

Looking back on it I'd say it was awfully insensitive to my more patriotic classmates not bothering to explain myself. Of course they were never interested in politics or history so their opinions didn't matter a whole lot to me.
posted by revbrian at 7:00 PM on October 10, 2001


To anyone who has reacted so vehemently against the mass recital of the POA, or the word "God" when used in any remotely official capacity ...

has it occured to you that this incessant harping on symbols and rituals only serves to lend more meaning to the thing that you disagree with? People toss around Orwell, and the two minutes hate, yet fail to recognize that Winston only began to slip away from the mind control when he became disassociated from the words and the rituals. it wasn't a swelling reactionary fervor, he didn't see the light. it was demystification, performing the rituals without belief and absorbing the reality when nothing horribly earth shaking happens. its like Genet, in Our Lady of The Flowers "And then the miracle occured. There was no miracle."

I'd bet $20 that the people who are up in arms about this event will be fuming and stewing over it long after it has left the minds of both the organizers and participants. You need look no further than the current situation ... by attacking the concept of America, the terrorists infused the words and symbols and rote observances of American patriotism with much more meaning and power than they have had for years. How many people noticed which businesses displayed the flag and which didn't before the attacks? Why was it such a signifigant gesture, after the attacks, when the US National Anthem was played at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace? rvbrian, do you think that your classmates thought more, less, or about the same on the meaning of the POA in the face of your abstaining? Indignant atheists, do you realize that someone who is just scanning this thread without reading all of the posts will probably register litte more than:
...............GOD....................................GOD......

.................GOD...............................GOD..........

................GOD........................GOD?

This isn't to say that words and symbols and rituals do not have tremendous power. But rather than bombs, think of them as bullets. harmless when tossed into the air, but deadly when given direction and a target. thus picking your battles, in this sense, translates into "don't paint a big red bullseye on your chest and run up to the enemy, screaming that he left his gun on the ground." The situation can only get worse once he picks it up.
posted by hipstertrash at 8:18 PM on October 10, 2001


hipstertrash: Yes, I hear you, but here's some history you don't know.
I was very young when the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. My dad was a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. All of the deacons (all male at the time) got together for some very long discussions of this. They came to the conclusion that the Pledge of Allegiance was idolatrous. Most of the kids in my church were told NOT to recite the pledge. My dad told me what he thought and said I could do as I chose. I stood for the pledge but didn't recite it. Every teacher knew not to mess with me *on religious grounds.* Other kids I knew were messed with if they chose not to recite the pledge---by their classmates and, much worse, by their teachers.
I saw some very nasty things done to kids in my class who didn't have the dad's protection I had. I was able to protect some of them from the other kids but I couldn't help them against the teachers or against random adults.
These days, I'm a pagan and my sister is a deacon in the Presbyterian Church, and *neither* of us wants those days back again.
The bullets are already aimed, hipstertrash, and they're aimed at 8-year-olds.
posted by realjanetkagan at 9:42 PM on October 10, 2001


Good lord, people, it's the fucking PLEDGE, it's about a bland and meaningless as This Land Is Your Land.

If you claim you witnessed reprisals on kids who didn't say the pledge, I think you're lying. I can't imagine any kid I went to school with giving a tin shit whether any or all of us said the pledge, recited the Ten Commandments, or commended our collective souls to the Dark Lord Arioch. We had bigger fish to fry, for pete's sake. It certainly didn't mess with our heads. It was just one more idiotic rote behavior amongst dozens we performed like monkeys every day. As we used to say, no big whoop.

Not every ill-conceived attempt at mindless patriotism is necessarily a step toward Orwell, Hitler or Falwell. Sometimes it's just someone being a regular ol' dumbass.
posted by UncleFes at 10:07 PM on October 10, 2001


UncleFes: How can you just call people liers like that? This was the 1950's, the middle of the red scare. What the hell do you thoughts on the actions of your own classmates have to do with someone elses removed in time and place?
posted by delmoi at 5:45 AM on October 11, 2001


Good lord, people, it's the fucking PLEDGE, it's about a bland and meaningless as This Land Is Your Land.

I just can't follow your argument in favor of imposing the bland and meaningless upon impressionable children in the name of teaching them patriotism...or something.

It was just one more idiotic rote behavior amongst dozens we performed like monkeys every day. As we used to say, no big whoop.

Sorry, but to some of us, being forced to perform like idiotic monkeys is a VERY big whoop.
posted by rushmc at 6:31 AM on October 11, 2001


If you claim you witnessed reprisals on kids who didn't say the pledge, I think you're lying

How can you just call people liers like that? This was the 1950's

and the '80s. i took plenty of shit from the other kids when i refused to recite the pledge and the Lord's Prayer every morning in school, and i was often sent to the office and given detention for it. my parents were called, and i was punished by my father for not reciting the pledge (but he said i was right not to pray if i didn't want to).

i took flak from the other kids for being non-christian, and was physically assaulted by my peers and insulted by a teacher for vocalizing my disagreement with and refusing to attend a school rally in favor of the Gulf War.

i've seen plenty of kids who were picked on and shoved around for being overweight, poor, nerdy, non-athletic, non-patriotic, non- Russian-hating, or because they were suspected of being gay. i can remember the day that the first (that any students there at the time could remember) black kids starting attending our school, because there was plenty of name-calling at them and at those of us who didn't give a shit that the kids were black.

some, too many, kids do give a tin shit about if a few of their peers are a little different than they. whether the difference is racial, religious, political or anything else doesn't matter. to them, Different is bad, or at least, not as good as Same.

Hands across America anyone? Unity is fun for kids

when i was a kid, doing things like that had less to do with Unity than with Conformity. kids weren't all doing it because they were thinking "wow! we're all doing this because we're united!" (or something similar) many were doing it because they didn't want to be different from the other kids (the 'everyone else is doing it so i should too' thing).
posted by tolkhan at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2001


How can you just call people liers like that?

I said I think they're lying. What's the problem? People lie all the time. Most people can't get through a single day without 3-4 big juicy lies, real whoppers. Even I have been known to tell the occassional untruth :)

This was the 1950's

Well, great. Back in the 1400s, people used to have big fights with swords, but I don't start looking for my claymore anytime someone's dog shits on my lawn. Times change, delmoi.

What the hell do you thoughts on the actions of your own classmates have to do with someone elses removed in time and place?

What the hell do her thoughts on the actions of her classmates have on MY time and place?? I had an opinion on what she said and, assuming mine is just as valid as her, posted it. It's OK for her to give us dark warnings about some sort of religious McCarthyism returning (oh noooooooo...) but it's not OK for me to disagree and present my experience with the same activity?

Sorry, but to some of us, being forced to perform like idiotic monkeys is a VERY big whoop.

Knowing what I do about the school system in this country, I suspect you're going to have to bring a lunch to that battle.

i've seen plenty of kids who were picked on and shoved around for being overweight, poor, nerdy, non-athletic, non-patriotic, non- Russian-hating, or because they were suspected of being gay.

That's what I was referring to when I said "we had other fish to fry." I think we can all agree that being a kid sucks. But in my experience, no one caught any shit for not reciting the pledge. You either recited or you didn't.

But I mean, realistically, knowing that children are mean, cruel and violent, do kids who stand up and say "I'm not reciting the pledge because I hate America" really expect to NOT get a reaction from their peers? I think a reaction from their peers is exactly what they're looking for. Why cannot a kid who doesn't believe what the pledge stands for simply not recite it?

Example: I am an athiest. But I end up in a church twice a year. I disagree with it - hell, I think it's damned stupid! But I go because my wife asks me to go and out of respect for her I go, I sit in a pew, I listen, and I don't start shit. I can't sing, so I refrain from offending anyone during the hymns by standing up, holding the fool hymnal, and... nothing. I just don't sing.

If you don't like the pledge, just stand up with rest of class (out of respect for your classmates beliefs) and then not say it. Your self-respect is intact, and you avoid being provocatory.
posted by UncleFes at 9:13 AM on October 11, 2001


If you claim you witnessed reprisals on kids who didn't say the pledge, I think you're lying.

If you believe the witnesses are lying, how about a victim of such reprisals? I was an elementary school student in Alief, TX in the early 60's. I did not pledge allegiance to the flag because I was not a US citizen. Not understanding the nuances of a concept such as the POA, some of my classmates decided the patriotic thing to do was to beat me red, white, and blue.

(My apologies for posting personal experience here.)
posted by joaquim at 11:05 AM on October 11, 2001


Your individual results may vary. Again, children are often mean, smallminded, violent little animals.

How'd you go about not pledging allegiance? Also: I wonder if it was about "here's a kid from another country, let's pick on him," rather than "he doesn't say the pledge, let's pick on him." And did you consider that, despite your loyalty to another country, that perhaps just maybe it might have been a good idea at that particular moment to at the very least pretend to say it? What do you think that an American kid, in your country, would have happen to him if he stood up during whatever patriotic hoohah goes on there and said "screw you guys, I'm American, and I'm not singing your stupid song"...?

You know, I was a kid too. I was a smallish, thin, book-reader who wasn't very good at sports, couldn't fight, and was shy. I took my share of beatings. I have older brothers who picked on me, and some people just didn't like me very much. All this does NOT, however, lead me to believe that America is an evil place of hate and deviltry. So, OK, maybe "lying" is a bit strong. Better perhaps is "remembering my childhood and blaming big bad America for the cruelty of my classmates."

School's over, kids, time to move on.
posted by UncleFes at 11:51 AM on October 11, 2001


And did you consider that, despite your loyalty to another country, that perhaps just maybe it might have been a good idea at that particular moment to at the very least pretend to say it?

Perhaps some of us believe in standing up for a principle, even as children. Which, again, is what the pledge stands for.
posted by owillis at 12:16 PM on October 11, 2001


Standing up for a principle would seemingly entail not complaining later about the treatment one received during said stand-up. But hey, maybe I'm just a stoic.
posted by UncleFes at 1:02 PM on October 11, 2001


According to this, the Pledge of Allegiance was written as a promotional gimmick to sell flags to schools. This is a long text, but it's a fascinating story.
posted by realjanetkagan at 1:55 PM on October 11, 2001


I came to the States in third grade and the elementary school I ended up at had the students recite the pledge of allegiance every morning, standing up and facing the flag. I never said it -- certainly it would have been weird and hypocritical for me to do so, as a foreigner and atheist. But I stood up for it (had to), even though I felt uncomfortable even doing that.

I remember it being something that made me stand apart from everyone, as much as my lack of fluency or my accent or different culture did. It's something that divides the room into "us" and "them". Is that a bad thing? Is it all right to make that outward distinction of American vs. not? ...I ended up at an international school later, and to me it seems silly to call out those differences in a classroom, without discussion of them. I don't know how the other kids felt, but to me, it was creepy and uncomfortable every single day.
posted by annekef at 2:32 PM on October 11, 2001


All this does NOT, however, lead me to believe that America is an evil place of hate and deviltry. So, OK, maybe "lying" is a bit strong. Better perhaps is "remembering my childhood and blaming big bad America for the cruelty of my classmates."

Standing up for a principle would seemingly entail not complaining later about the treatment one received during said stand-up. But hey, maybe I'm just a stoic.

Where did I blame the US for the treatment I received? I didn't claim that JFK, Goldwater, and the 82nd Airborne waited for me after school and beat me.

What leads you to consider the retelling of an incident a complaint? The post I was responding to expressed the belief that such reprisals never happened. I was injecting my personal experience into the discussion in an effort to let people know that reprisals did happen and may happen again. If you register that as a complaint, you are wrong.

I don't know what would have happened to a child of the US who chose not to sing my country's anthem. If he chose to act in the disrespectful manner you described, I imagine he would have been the victim of some reprisals. I would like to think that a visitor's respect for my country's customs in place of participation would have been accepted.

FWIW, I stood during the pledge to honor the country I was visiting, just as I stand during the anthems of countries I visit now. I did not place my hand over my heart nor did I lip-synch. I did not pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America because I had no allegiance to that flag (nor to the US, which seems to be a more fitting object of allegiance.). The teacher explained the reason I did not join in the POA; some students refused to accept that reason and told me so during our confrontations. I was scarred neither emotionally nor physically by their actions, but who's to say that a similar incident today would not escalate into something more serious?

Are you having a bad day today? You seem to be reacting way out of proportion to the stimulus and answering some comments on human behavior with surly jingoism. I didn't indict the US with my comments; I admire its great energy and overall good intentions towards its fellows. At the same time, I can recognize that it isn't perfect. Perhaps you should try that, too.
posted by joaquim at 4:48 PM on October 11, 2001


I said I think they're lying. What's the problem? People lie all the time. Most people can't get through a single day without 3-4 big juicy lies, real whoppers.

It must suck to be you.

And impugning someone's integrity and veracity IS a big deal, particularly when you don't know them and have no data upon which to base such an accusation. Not all of us play as loose and free with the truth as you seem to assume is both customary and acceptable.
posted by rushmc at 5:55 PM on October 11, 2001


Standing up for a principle would seemingly entail not complaining later about the treatment one received during said stand-up.

Whaaa? That is utter nonsense. If I were a German in WWII who stood up to the Nazis and told them I didn't think they should round up all Jews for the slaughter, and I somehow managed to survive the treatment that would directly result from such a stand, it would be your contention that I a) should not complain about said treatment later and b) that if I did it would somehow invalidate my original act of standing up to them?

For this is exactly what you are suggesting about the admittedly much lesser but still morally significant act of standing up for what you believe in the classroom.
posted by rushmc at 5:59 PM on October 11, 2001


Standing up for a principle would seemingly entail not complaining later about the treatment one received during said stand-up. But hey, maybe I'm just a stoic.

If you don't complain about the treatment you receive afterward, that makes you a sucker, not a stoic. The point is to enact a change in your environment, not to be some sort of beautiful loser. The sequence of events is: do unpopular act -> get punished -> complain about punishment, making punishers feel immoral -> do unpopular act without getting punished. If you skip that crucial third step, you're just going to be spinning your wheels.

Power concedes nothing without demand. -Frederick Douglass
posted by boaz at 6:06 PM on October 11, 2001


Beautifully reasoned post, boaz. That should just about wrap up this thread.
posted by rushmc at 6:49 PM on October 11, 2001


Basically just repeating what you said, rushmc, but I do love that Frederick Douglass quote.
posted by boaz at 7:05 PM on October 11, 2001


Basically just repeating what you said, rushmc

Well, no WONDER I liked it! (just kidding)
posted by rushmc at 9:16 PM on October 11, 2001


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