Monday, July 12, 2010

Pledge of Allegiance is Unacceptable?

NOTE: This post is slightly off topic because it deals more with the issue of partiotism specifically than the First Amendment's religion clauses in particular.

In the story linked below we learn that a public high school, Arlington High School in Massachusetts, is not willing to do the Pledge of Allegiance. They also do not display the flag in the classrooms. One of the students was very upset about this and tried to petition the administration to start using the Pledge. That doesn't seem so illogical, especially given the amount of money that our federal government spends on education. One must assume most of the students (certainly their parents) are in this country by choice.

The student managed to get the school to display flags in the classrooms, but the Pledge is still not being used. One reason given by the administration is that they did not think the teachers would be willing to lead the Pledge. Interesting comment, because several teachers signed the petition to restore the Pledge. Also signing letter of support was Senator John Kerry, who is not usually considered a right-wing extremist.

One hesitation cited was the relgious implication of the phrase "under God" in the pledge. But most of the discussion (at least as found in the article) was about partiotism.

One teacher said, "Patriotism is a very personal thing for all of us, but I do not think it is in the school committee's best interest to mandate that any of our employees recite the pledge."

It's a good thing that teacher is not currently applying for citizenship in the USA. She would have to take the following oath (boldface added):

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

That language is considered by some to be antiquated (it originates from a centuries-old oath of Great Britain). The proposed new language, not yet accepted into law, would require the same level of discomfort from the teacher quoted above (boldface added):

"Solemnly, freely, and without mental reservation, I hereby renounce under oath all allegiance to any foreign state. My fidelity and allegiance from this day forward is to the United States of America. I pledge to support, honor, and be loyal to the United States, its Constitution, and its laws. Where and if lawfully required, I further commit myself to defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, either by military, noncombatant, or civilian service. This I do solemnly swear, so help me God."

But as native-born citizens, we apparently have a God-given right (or nature-given, or Mother Earth-given, or...) to not feel an allegiance to this country, or at least to not admit to it.

Read more by following the link below:


LexAequitas said...

The school has the freedom to choose not to use the Pledge as an exercise. It is under no obligation to test the patriotism of its employees, and doesn't need to bend to the will of a single student in testing it.

History Matters said...

Of course that's true. I don't think I implied otherwise. As far as I am aware, no actions of Congress regarding the pledge have made it a requirement.
However, I doubt seriously that it is only a single student who feels this way (although that is often enough to start an ACLU lawsuit in certain circumstances).
Note the paragraph quoted in the linked article:
Harrington had presented school officials with a petition signed by 700 people, along with letters of support from lawmakers including Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.