Black leaders refuse to pledge allegiance to flag
June 22, 2001 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Black leaders refuse to pledge allegiance to flag is an example of a story that The Washington Times blows way out of proportion. The term *black leaders* would imply that there are multitudes of African-American politicians/community leaders who are refusing to pledge allegiance to the flag. However, if you read the whole story, it turns out that only ONE person, an assembly-women from Tennessee is the focus of the whole story! Of course, the Times doesn't forget to remind the readers that she, and all who support her, are Democrats...
posted by Rastafari (15 comments total)
Can't remember the last time I actually pledged allegiance to the flag. They used to make us do it every day in elementary school. Then one kid stopped doing it because her parents were of a religion that considered that akin to putting the nation before God. "Thou shalt put no idols before me." I guess that includes banners? Anyway. She didn't have to do it, so pretty soon we were all going, "well if she doesn't have to do it why do we?" And after the teacher talked with the principal about it, by the following Monday the teacher just quietly skipped that part of the morning routine. In fact I don't recall ever being told to recite the pledge of allegiance again, after around fifth grade.

So while I understand your point Rastafari, one person not doing it can make a bigger difference than you might think. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 9:27 PM on June 22, 2001

Perhaps I didn't get the initial post right, but my impression is that Rastafari was not really suggesting that Rep. Henri Brooks's decision was insignificant because she's basically acting alone, but that the Times sensationalized the story (and, in the process, may have made it seem less important to readers) by suckering people in with an ambiguous, if not outright misleading, headline.

Some of the contributing writers to a small magazine I edit are professional journalists, and I have had occasion to question statements that sounded like sweeping generalizations and have been told to my face, "Hey, c'mon, I'm a newspaper guy."

Probably a good idea to question everything you read (a practical impossibility, but a good idea, methinks).
posted by Bixby23 at 10:51 PM on June 22, 2001

Black leaders? Of course they give us all our marching orders. Did you miss the memo last week? Geez.

I used to have my own silent protest where I would stand and not say the pledge - just cause I didn't like the addition of religion.

And then they interview Julianne Malveaux? Yes, calm, reasoned response there... not.
posted by owillis at 11:04 PM on June 22, 2001

Rastafari, your comment on the main page is spun far more than the story. And not pledging allegiance is a gutless little tantrum, not a protest. It only impresses your buddies. If you're not giving people who don't agree with your position some information that helps them understand more about your position, you're just making things worse. And as far as the democrat thing, have you ever heard of an anti-pledge republican?

Bixby23, rather than questioning everything you read, just consider the source. If you don't you're doing yourself a real disservice.
posted by BGM at 11:55 PM on June 22, 2001

There is no legal requirement to cite the pledge. Technically, it's forbidden by the 14th Amendment. For my part, though Christian, I've always been offended that Congress chose to modify the pledge in the 1950s to include the words under God, so I will stand and recite the pledge, but omit those two words. (It's a Caesar/God thing, for me, even more than it's a church-state thing.)

Rasta, you're very right -- the article went out of its way to list every hot-button racial issue it could, to make the linkage in its readers' minds, and made a point of her affiliation with the NAACP, as if they had anything to do with a matter of conscience for her.

I'm loving this return to ipso-facto conservatism. I think it's a sweet, touching tribute to Archie Bunker.
posted by dhartung at 12:00 AM on June 23, 2001

[spin]Show me the moonies!! C'mon big moonie, big moonie...
posted by roboto at 2:53 AM on June 23, 2001

Think about the words, "I pledge allegiance, to the flag." Why pledge to a flag? The next line, "and to the republic for which it stands" makes more sense. "One nation, under God" can upset an atheist.

We are going overboard to be politically correct these days. There's nothing wrong with expressing your opinion. That's what we are all doing here! There is a line between peaceful and violent protest. If someone doesn't want to pledge allegiance, it should be no big deal.
posted by NJguy at 5:19 AM on June 23, 2001

She can stand on her head during the Pledge for all I care, but her statement about when she was asked to step outside until the Pledge was over ("he treated me like a Master-Slave relationship") is nothing more than race baiting.

He sent her outside like an unruly child, which is no less insulting, but it's more of a Teacher-Student scenario than a Master-Slave thing.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:54 AM on June 23, 2001

it's more of a Teacher-Student scenario: Or a boss-worker thing.

Hey, I'm extremely "patriotic" - I cherish this nation and the principles that it was founded upon - that is one of the reasons that I proudly serve in the US Air Force. And, if I am in uniform, I will (as required by regulation) stand for the recitation of the pledge, although I will not recite it. But in civilian clothes - no way. It's meaningless, for the most part, and (as pointed out above by NJguy) quite upsetting & insulting to us atheists. NOT having to recite it is exactly one of the freedoms that our country was founded upon. Franky, hearing a classroom full of 2nd graders recite it in that sing-songy way that they do conjures up images of Nazi youth, or Komsomol/Young Communists. Scary. So - bottom line - I respect the person for not reciting the pledge, but I think her rationale is, at best, inaccurate.
posted by davidmsc at 9:27 AM on June 23, 2001

As to the Times using the phrase "black leaders" to refer to a single person:

Headlines are always a bit fishy -- it's clear that they are rarely written by the person who wrote the story, and are usually written to (a) make the story sound as sensational as possible, while (b) being as short as possible. (I read a great article once talked about how the word "Vex" -- as in "Economic Woes Vex Bush" -- only appears in headlines because of it's brevity). In the case of this article, though, the line "black leaders" actually appears in the the first line of the story. He (the article writer) hedges by throwing in a "some", but pluralizes the "leaders" which pretty much asserts that he's talking about more than one.

It reminds me of when the local evening reports on protests. Usually they protests are pretty sad affairs, with only a handful of people showing up, but the newscasters write the copy to make it sound like anywhere between seven and thirty-seven million people were in attendance. If 24 people show up, then "Dozen of people protested the opening of the downtown Hooters". 40 people are "scores", 49 are "more than four dozen".

At least they didn't say "the African American community", which was often used as a synonym for "one or two African Americans" during the whole Florida debacle. That really got my goat. Can you imagine if, every time a white congressman said such-and-such, they referred to "the white community being up in arms over sales tax", or whatever?

A fact to whip out at your next cocktail part: The Pledge of Allegiance, written by socialist.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 9:53 AM on June 23, 2001

BGM: And not pledging allegiance is a gutless little tantrum, not a protest. It only impresses your buddies.
And as far as the democrat thing, have you ever heard of an anti-pledge republican?

First of all, why is NOT pledging the allegiance gutless and not a protest? While you or I may not agree with her reasoning behind her actions, protests of any kind are VERY American. The whole Civil Rights movement was built on it. What is the difference between not giving up a seat on the front of a bus and not reciting the pledge?

Second, my point about the the Democrat thing was there are many fundamentalist Christians who refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag for religious reasons, and if the Times had covered that (and I don't think they would have), they probably would have spun it as people standing up for their religious rights and NOT targeted them as belonging to any political party -- though I'm about 99.9 % sure they (fundamentalist Christians) would be Republicans. Yes, Rep. Brooks is a Democrat. But she's ONE Democrat, and the article makes it sound like there are *many* black leaders who support her action, but it doesn't name names -- thereby implying that the African American community is behind her, which I don't see.

And owillis, who is Julianne Malveaux? Please forgive me for not knowing her, but was there a reason that the Times quoted her specifically? Does she set off alarm bells within certain conservative circles? Is that why she's in the article?
posted by Rastafari at 10:22 AM on June 23, 2001

Hello? First Amendment? It covers freedom to speak and freedom not to speak.
posted by dr. zoidberg at 11:35 AM on June 23, 2001

have you ever heard of an anti-pledge republican?

hi. i've refused to recite the pledge since second grade. i was a Republican until the party nominated GWB.

now you've heard of someone who was "an anti-pledge republican" (i'm an anti-pledge Independent now, thank you very much).
posted by tolkhan at 6:34 PM on June 23, 2001

Hello? First Amendment? It covers freedom to speak and freedom not to speak.

It's next to impossible to read a comment like this and not hear the "real" Dr. Zoidberg speaking them in my mind's ear. ("Real" in scarequotes because I know it's just a cartoon.) "Hello? First Amendment?" sounds like something he might say, actually.
posted by kindall at 9:04 PM on June 23, 2001

I solemnly acknowledge an obligation of loyalty, not to the flag of the United States of America, but to the principles for which it stands, and upon which the Republic thrives; one undivided nation of individuals, with liberty, equality, and justice for all.

It just loses something in the PC translation.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:23 AM on June 28, 2001

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