Our public servants, quite properly, swear an oath to Âpreserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United StatesÂ. ItÂs right and honorable that they do this. The Pledge is different. WeÂre not swearing allegiance to the Constitution, or to liberty and justice for all, or even to the United States. WeÂre swearing allegiance to the flag itself. WeÂre swearing allegiance to an inanimate thing. ItÂs not a rhetorical device; the Pledge is quite clear that allegiance is owed first to the flag, and then also to the Republic for which it stands.
This makes me extremely uncomfortable. As a rote device for promoting patriotism, itÂs fine. But by turning what is in fact a solemn oath into a rote device, we are cheapening our language and weakening what we mean by honor and loyalty. When we use words like "pledge" and "allegiance" to mean "I rather like my country, because weÂre dedicated to liberty and justice for all" or "IÂm proud to be an American" or "Mom makes me go to school", we quickly find that we have no words left for the high and noble things that those words used to stand for.
Friday, September 16, 2005
The problem with the pledge
Badger Blues has a post on the Pledge of allegiance that I agree with whole heartedly. There's something wrong with the pledge, and it isn't the words "under God":