Connie's Comments

Incisive observations on political, cultural, and spiritual topics, based on personal commitment to accuracy and honesty.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

by Connie Cook Smith


COSTA MESA, California (AP) -- Student leaders at a community college voted to drop the Pledge of Allegiance after a tense meeting...

Board member Jason Ball argued that the pledge inspires nationalism, violates the separation between church and state... and is irrelevant to the business of student government. (link below)


I personally look back on the countless times as a youngster when I dutifully rose and recited the Pledge. The robotic way we always went about this made me eventually feel as though I were participating in some compulsive superstition instead of a constructive expression.

Like "step on a crack, break your mother's back." By 4th grade I was so tired of avoiding cracks in the sidewalk on the way to and from school that I decided to hell with it, I was going to step on cracks (or pay no attention to them), and truly hope that my mom's back didn't get broken.

Well, she did have some back troubles in her later years, but I don't think it was my fault.

My point is, even though I was an avid reader from Day 1and I knew that the USA was at very least one of the luckiest places on earth to live, deserving full appreciation, the Pledge never inspired that feeling in me. The Pledge was always a mindless group ritual, and that's something which makes me feel very uncomfortable, very compromised.

Later on when I saw historic film clips of Nazi Germany, with their nationalistic gestures and their oaths and flag-waving, I wondered, well why do WE do those things, too? Apparently, somebody in charge in the US had some thoughts about that -- because prior to the nazi emergence of the Hitler salute, that extended-arm gesture is exactly what Americans originally did while reciting the Pledge! When Germany co-opted it or copied it or whatever they did as Hitler rose, Americans were suddenly instructed to put their hands over their hearts instead.

That reminds me of a minor argument with a classmate about exactly where the heart is, because, after all -- you not only must do this thing, you must do it right! Even as a child, I began to feel this is childish.

In my adulthood, I discovered that the very year I started first grade and got indoctrinated in this, 1954, Congress had just legislated that "under God" would be added to it, from now on. As a writer, I was incensed that ANYBODY had presumed the right to alter an author's work!

And the irony is that Frank Bellamy, who wrote it in 1892, was a Baptist minister -- but even he knew it was not appropriate to have a political sentiment be a mandatory public prayer.

Just look at the simplicity and elegance of his original words: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." The fear of God just isn't there and should not be.

Further, Dr. John Baer writes that Bellamy considered placing the word, "equality," in his Pledge, but he knew that his commemorative committee members were against equality for women and African Americans.

Well, isn't THAT special! Not only was "God" not supposed to be there, but equality was not allowed there! What a FARCE all this is.

And I think this is what all the arguments are about, with the college students wanting to drop it and the courts ruling this way and that way. There are many thinking Americans who feel there's something very wrong with the whole thing.

And indeed, because "God" in it overrides one's freedom to be religious or not, objectors risk being labeled "atheist" even if they are not, and being castigated as "unpatriotic" if they don't want to give their minds and bodies and power of speech over to a robotic ritual.

No one should feel compelled to submit to group-think in the United States of America. And the flag is a SYMBOL of freedom, it is not freedom itself. How utterly incomprehensible when people love a flag -- but despise the person who wants to be free!


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