Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rewriting the Pledge of Allegiance

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Pledge of Allegiance
Pledge of Allegiance
[via Leon Skeie’s Contact Page | click for full size]

For those (non-Americans) who may not know, it’s customary, and sometimes even enforced (despite this being illegal), to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of every schoolday in the United States, and sometimes even elsewhere. I myself remember trudging through it, much to my displeasure (which has probably only increased in retrospect) as I could never be arsed to remember half the words. (But then, I was only 6.) Here’s the Pledge as it’s read today:

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.

As you can imagine, anyone who’s even somewhat versed in history and modern politics and social issues could tell you at length just how full of false idealism and crap those statements are. Why pledge one’s allegiance to the a country’s flag? I understand how it’s meant symbolically, but it’s still absurd. One can pledge their allegiance to a country just fine (even though I, personally, wouldn’t do such a thing, as I consider countries to be nothing more than pockets of distinct cultures separated by imaginary lines on a map) without the tripe symbolism.

Also, you’re supposed to vow your allegiance to the notion of there being “liberty and justice for all”? Well, true … unless you’re poor, unemployed or homeless. Or get accused of being a terrorist. Or become suspected of harboring various anti-government sentiments. Or you smoke a little pot. Or you have sex before you reach 18. And any number of other circumstances that can (and most likely will) land you in a veritable underworld of trouble as you try to fight for your right to “liberty and justice” – almost certainly in vain.

And, don’t even get me started about that “under God” bullshit.

As I’m sure most would agree, the current pledge – if one even needs to exist at all (and I could make a number of explicit arguments against it, and legal scholars, even moreso) – could stand to be rewritten. Ed Brayton proposes this revised edition:

I pledge allegiance to the principles of liberty and justice for all, and to the struggle to ensure that those principles are put into practice, for all people, under the terms of the constitution, with no one left out of that promise.

Now that’s something I could chant mindlessly in class every day and not feel guilty about it.

Does anyone have their own idea of what a better Pledge of Allegiance would be, if they think one should exist at all?