Every Salem City Council meeting begins with the Pledge of Allegiance. Whenever I'm at a council meeting, I'll stand for the pledge, but I don't say it or put my hand over my heart.
The whole idea of the Pledge of Allegiance just strikes me as decidedly creepy.
From what I can tell by some Googling, North Korea is one of the few other countries in the world that are so enamored of a pledge of allegiance.
Of course, in North Korea the pledge is to the Supreme Leader. Here, the first mention of allegiance is to the United States flag. But that's equally ridiculous. A flag is just a bit of cloth. Why would I want to pledge allegiance to a flag?
I got to thinking more about the whole Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem thing after President Trump started making such a big deal about NFL players taking a knee when the Star Spangled Banner was played.
This doesn't bother me at all. The National Anthem is just a song, in the same way the flag is just cloth. There's nothing to revere in a song or piece of cloth.
So this morning I said in a Facebook post:
ADVANCE NOTICE: Next time I'm out in public at a place where the National Anthem is played, or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, I'll be sitting down. Why? Because Trump is continuing to tweet ridiculously about this subject, and I want to protest Trump. Besides, the National Anthem is just a song. The Pledge of Allegiance is just words. The American flag is just cloth. There's nothing sacred about them. They're just overblown rituals.
Since I rarely go anywhere other than a Salem City Council meeting where the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, the next stop on my train of thought was this: Why is it necessary for the Pledge of Allegiance to kick off a council meeting?
Sure, I realize this sounds like heresy. But like I said, the United States appears to be unique among democratic industrialized countries when it comes to a pledge of allegiance.
lt's kind of like the debate our country has been having about health care. In Canada, Australia, and every European nation it simply seems obvious that everybody should be able to get health care when they need it. But in the United States, this is a controversial subject.
Likewise, in this country most people take for granted that the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited before city council meetings and the National Anthem should be played before football games. Yet in other countries, this isn't the case.
Now, I'm not so deluded as to believe that any Salem city councilor is going to make a motion to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance at council meetings. I'm just saying that people like me who don't feel like saying the pledge, or even standing up for it, have a perfect right to do so.
Trump is fond of saying that members of our military have fought and died for our country, our flag, and our National Anthem. This obviously is wrong. Nobody fights and dies for a piece of cloth or a song.
I've heard numerous veterans speak about this on cable news and satellite radio today.
They said that they fought for freedom -- which includes the freedom to protest injustice and inequities. Also, presidential idiocy, which is my primary motivation for remaining seated during the National Anthem or Pledge of Allegiance.
Lastly, let's take a look at what the Pledge of Allegiance says:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Obviously anyone who doesn't believe in God, such as me, is entitled to not say the "under God" part that was added in 1954. And anyone who questions whether the United States is "indivisible" or provides "liberty and justice for all" also should get a pass on saying those parts.
I've already noted that it is absurd to pledge allegiance to a flag, so there's no good reason to say the first part of the Pledge. That leaves us with just something like "I pledge allegiance to the United States."
OK. I don't have a big problem with that, in this sense. I'm not a citizen of any other country. The United States is where I was born and live now. I'm committed to making the United States a better place, just as I'm committed to making Oregon and Salem better places.
So I feel that I'm as patriotic as anybody else. Even, or especially, when I decide that I don't want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem.
In the course of looking for a Google image to accompany this post I came across the above graphic. Which led me to the post, "What's Wrong With: The Pledge of Allegiance?," in which it appeared. The concluding paragraph makes a lot of sense to me:
To recap: Since Americans are neither serfs nor vassals, we don’t owe “allegiance” to anyone or anything. We don’t owe it to the country, to the flag, or to any person or group. “Allegiance” is a feudal notion that has no bearing on citizens of a representative republic. Yes, I suppose it seems like a nice idea to line the kids up every morning and force them to mouth a pledge to the flag … but to do is entirely inappropriate. Even without the words “under God,” it would still be inappropriate. The time has come to just dispense with it altogether. Hopefully this country will find the maturity and courage to do so, once and for all.