Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Never Enough Mandatory Indoctrination Department

So the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Pledge of Allegiance case. So far, it's been couched only as a matter of freedom of religion, e.g. are people required to pledge their loyalty to a country that, by merit of the pledge, declared subserviant to a god they don't believe in? But there is a deeper issue here, quite frankly.

The recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is a relic of the Cold War. It was introduced at a time when Americans were regularly frightened by the boogeyman of the Red Menace. Specifically, people were convinced that there might be people amongst them whose loyalties belonged to a foreign nation with an alien ideology, and who possessed a decided taste for espionage and subversion. The Pledge was therefore intended to indoctrinate a whole nation to follow instead this country--and to present themselves in contrast to those "godless commies." Hence, what started as a quaint little pledge written by a newspaper editor, without the phrase "under God" in it, became a propaganda tool with a twist of faith.

It's too easy to draw a parallel between the Cold War and the War On Terrorism, which we learned was conducted by terrorists who had lived in the US for significantly long periods. But a Pledge will not help us, nor will clinging to cynical jingoism. It's time to retire the Pledge, and renew a more powerful patriotism, one that creates true strength and security while helping the world become a better place. Damn it.

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