Reader Rant: ‘I’d Rather Pledge Allegiance to the Constitution’

by on May 3, 2018 · 8 comments

in Ocean Beach

Each month at the Ocean Beach Town Council meeting, we all rise  and pledge our allegiance to the flag – as do countless community meetings and school classrooms across the country.

Because I’m an atheist, I always pause while everyone else it seems says “under god” near the end of the pledge. I always wonder whose god are we talking about. The god of Abraham? The Christian god, the Jewish god, the Muslim god? (They’re all the same with these 3.) The Buddhist god? The Catholic god? The Protestant god? The gods of the native peoples who roamed this land before we.

I don’t really want to pledge to any god. And I know there’s other atheists out there – especially in Ocean Beach. Actually a 2017 study found roughly one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans likely do not believe in God. I bet it’s even more here in OB.

Actually, it wasn’t until the height of the Cold War that the phrase “under god” was inserted into the pledge.

While we’re on the subject of pledges – why are we pledging our allegiance to a piece of cloth? I know, I know, it’s a symbol.

But what about pledging our allegiance to the Constitution? Wouldn’t that be more appropriate? You know, like Jim Comey did. Trump wanted the then-FBI Director to pledge allegiance to him, Trump. But instead, Comey pledged his to the Constitution.

Yes, the Constitution is imperfect (the Electoral College holdover from slavery days is still in there) – but the Constitution includes the Bill of Rights – like the Right to a Free Press and free speech.

Do we even believe in the things we’re saying? “Freedom and justice for all”? Do we really believe in that? If so, why aren’t our beliefs more reflected in our thoughts and actions?

And why pledge to the “republic”? What about our Democracy. (Look up the differences. Democracy is … uh, democratic?)

While we’re at it, let’s NOT promote extreme nationalism in our pledge. Hasn’t the world of nations seen enough of that.

Why are we even pledging allegiance to anything, you might ask. I would point you to Wikipedia for the Pledge’s historical background (since 1892 we’ve had 4 versions). Then you tell me why we’re doing the pledge. It’s often been associated with trying to assimilate immigrant groups and the uneducated.

Okay, I’ve come up with my version, try this out.

I pledge allegiance to the Constitution,

and to the Democracy for which it stands,

one nation – among many,

with liberty and justice for all – AND WE REALLY MEAN IT!

(that last part is yelled.)

Not everybody believes in the words.

 

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Anonymous OBcean May 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm

I’ve always thought it strange to pledge allegiance to a country unless you were serving in its military or in another way obligated to its well-being. I was born here out of sheer luck and am no more obligated to allegiance than if I were born in Antarctica. Of course I think this is a great country, but why are you forcing me to love you? Sounds a lot like religious gods… “Love me or perish in a lake of fire!”

OBTC should be progressive enough to get rid of this antiquated nonsense.

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Avatar kh May 3, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Everyone is obligated to the well-being of their neighborhood, state, country, and planet!

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Avatar rick callejon May 3, 2018 at 1:10 pm

I pledge my allegiance to Joe Montana and to the excellence for which he stands with touchdowns and victories for all.

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Avatar virginiamae May 3, 2018 at 5:45 pm

Rick, A reliable source has informed me that Joe Montana is, in fact, God.

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Avatar Frances O'Neill Zimmerman May 3, 2018 at 8:30 pm

They added that “under God” part when I was a little kid during the McCarthy era.
I’ve never heard this version before, but it is funny and fun and worth remembering. I’m not much for either football or the required swearing to the flag, but I liked Joe Montana, so why not?

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Avatar kh May 3, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Honestly it’s always seemed like a brief waste of time to me. I’m guessing most appreciate the gesture, and I believe patriotism for one’s country is a wonderful thing. The pledge is a bizarre way to express it in the “land of the free”. When it’s forced on school children from a young age it resembles the indoctrination you’d see in a communist dictatorship.

OBTC practices democracy well but isn’t a government function, so the constitution has even less relevance. Or maybe it’s the best way to get everyone’s attention and start the meeting. I would be hesitant to support changing it because, generally when these topics come up it’s a select few intolerant types imposing their will on everyone else.

It would be an interesting topic to bring up at a meeting.

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sealintheSelkirks sealintheSelkirks May 7, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Haven’t participated in this ritual in decades. Don’t bother to stand, either, which often earns me dirty looks and snide comments but answering that I support the Constitution and do not believe gods such as Zeus or O’din or Ra makes people look confused by my answers.

Nice to know I’m not the only one who finds this ridiculous. Patriotism easily turns to nationalism which is never healthy for any country calling itself ‘democratic.’

kh: obligated to the well being? Tell that to the wealthy elite corporate owners of this country. Not much obligation there if actions speak louder than words. And I liked your ‘resembles the indoctrination of dictatorships’ comment. Resembles? Of course it’s indoctrination and just wait until we have that wonderful Red Square Parade that Trump is calling for after he got so jealous watching Macron’s French parade! You do know that it is budgeted in the new federal budget?

And while we’re at it does anybody know why there are all these United States flags flying from houses? Do the people living inside forget where they are and have to keep reminding themselves which country they live in by looking out the window?

Personally the corporate logos in place of stars on the US flag that I’ve seen for sale at rock concerts seem more appropriate to the reality of what kind of country we’re living in. Or at least who owns it. Maybe sell them ‘star’ spaces to balance the federal budget like cities do with their taxpayer-paid-for sports stadiums but a large minimum monthly instead of a one-time payment? Couldn’t hurt since they don’t pay taxes anyway!

And another thing, why do United Statesians label themselves Americans? We are just one of three groups of North Americans with Mexicans and Canadians being the other two. Then there are all the Central Americans and South Americans who are of course all Americans also…

Just saying!

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Avatar kh May 7, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Yes, many do fail miserably at fulfilling their obligation to community and country. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold ourselves to a higher standard.

I don’t need to question anyone’s motivation for flying the flag. In fact, I think it’s great if they choose to display it despite criticism like yours.

Live and let live.

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