What I Expect My Child To Learn From Not Saying the Pledge of Allegiance

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I've often
heard people describe those unwilling to say the Pledge of Allegiance
as un-American. Of these people I ask: what is your definition
of being an American? Was George Washington un-American because
he never said the Pledge of Allegiance? What do you mean when you
pledge your allegiance to the flag?

When I answer
these questions for myself, I know that my child will learn important
lessons by not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. If what you've
just read bothers you, please be patient with me, you might find
it worth your time to read this.

u201CI
Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of Americau201D

George Washington
never said the Pledge of Allegiance because Francis Bellamy (1855–1931)
wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 for the 400-year anniversary
celebration of Columbus' day at the Chicago World's Fair. Bellamy
was the chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education
in the National Education Association (NEA) at the time. The pledge
was seen as a tool to mold students — a u201CMighty engine for inculcation
of Patriotism.u201D
[1]

What is a pledge
or promise of allegiance? Is it necessary? After the War Between
the States, rebellious southerners were required to cite an u201Coath
of allegiance.u201D The word allegiance used in the Pledge has its
roots in this loyalty oath. [2]

Have you ever
looked up the definition of allegiance in a dictionary? My dictionary
shows the first definition of allegiance, which is the earliest
ascertainable meaning, as u201Cthe obligation of a feudal vassal to
his liege lord, the fidelity of a subject owed to his sovereign
or government.u201D [3] This refers to the feudal arrangement
between a vassal and his lord.

The last definition
of allegiance is u201Cloyalty and devotion in general,u201D and u201Cexpress
allegianceu201D is defined as u201Cthat obligation which proceeds from an
express promise or oath of fidelity.u201D [4] Maybe these last
definitions are what you have in mind when you pledge allegiance
to the flag.

In that case,
note that the dictionary defines fidelity as u201Cfaithfulness; careful
and exact observance of duty, or performance of obligation or vows.u201D
The definition also lists loyalty as in the u201Cfidelity of a servant
to his master.u201D [5]

None of these
definitions fits the idea of America when it was founded. Benjamin
Franklin stated it this way at the Constitutional Convention: u201CIn
free governments, the rulers are the servants and the people their
superiors and sovereigns.u201D [6]

Perhaps you
can try to convince yourself that you are merely saying the pledge
to show loyalty, that you are devoted to the flag and the republic.
At the end of this essay is the Oath for Naturalized Citizens from a government website.
Read it and notice that newly naturalized citizens swear allegiance
to the Constitution and the laws of the United States. Remember
the definitions for allegiance above and note that each naturalized
citizen is required to renounce u201Call allegiance and fidelity to
any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or
which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.u201D This should
convince you that the federal government understands allegiance
as that something which subjects give to a government.

So we can see
that the first phrase of the pledge: u201CI pledge allegiance to the
flagu201D states that the individual pledges fealty to something superior
to the individual. Pledging allegiance is pledging the fidelity
of a subject owed to his sovereign or government. That idea is
not found in the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution.

u201CAnd
to the Republic for Which It Standsu201D

What is the
source of our liberty? If one truly believes in the sovereignty
of God, and that individuals are sovereign in our nation, then only
God is above human beings, not the state. If one believes in the
supremacy of the individual, the state still cannot be sovereign.
Benjamin Franklin captured both viewpoints succinctly this way:
u201CFreedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right
that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.u201D [7]

Our Declaration
of Independence states that governments derive their u201Cjust Powers
from the Consent of the Governed.u201D And that liberty is an unalienable
right of all men. The Republic owes allegiance to its citizens
and citizens owe no allegiance to the Republic. Members of the
government take oaths to defend the Constitution — and rightly so.
They have a duty to defend it. The Constitution is intended to
bind the government, not citizens.

For a sovereign
citizen to pledge allegiance to the Republic is exactly backwards.
[8]
The Republic exists for us as individuals. We
do not pledge to it; pledges are for subservient subjects of kings
or National Socialist governments — not American citizens.

u201COne
Nation, Under God, Indivisibleu201D

The stars on
the flag originally represented sovereign states. When the united
[9]
States of America first seceded from England and
King George III with the Declaration of Independence, the idea of
free and independent, and therefore sovereign states, was the idea
for America. When we celebrate the Fourth of July, we are commemorating
the secession of the 13 colonies from England as free and independent
states.

Read the Declaration
of Independence. Its purpose was to explain to the world why the
colonies were seceding, why the u201CFree and Independent States . .
. are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that
all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain
is and ought to be totally dissolved . . .u201D
[10]

We
aren't celebrating the birth of the United States with the Fourth
of July — but maybe you are.

Perhaps if
American citizens spent more time learning that the Constitution
and the Declaration of Independence are what define America, and
not a flag, they would even see how our freedoms are continually
absorbed by the central government with each passing crisis. To
cite just a few examples of the process: the War between the States
ended states rights and brought the first income tax. The Second
World War brought us income tax withholding. The latest crisis
has caused a massive expansion in the central government including
u201Crandomu201D searches of pregnant women before they board airplanes
u201Cto protect us.u201D

If Americans
studied these documents they might come to the conclusion that the
pledge is antithetical to the spirit of the Constitution and the
Declaration of Independence. The spirit of those documents is not
one of subservient vassals of the state, but of sovereign citizens.
The nation is only indivisible to our detriment and for the strengthening
of the central state. The War Between the States was a bloody suppression
of freedom. Slaves were ultimately freed, but all of us are now
subservient to the Federal government. The new King George resides
in Washington, D.C.

u201CWith Liberty and Justice for Allu201D

Francis Bellamy,
who wrote the Pledge, was the cousin of Edward Bellamy, author of
Looking
Backward: 2000–1887
, a utopian novel of a national
socialist future America.
[11]
Both Edward and Francis Bellamy were national
socialists from the collectivist movement of the late 19th
century. So this pledge, which some think is a criterion for being
an American, was written for the public school system by a socialist.

What is it
about socialism that's so bad? After all, socialism simply means
that all must work for the state, and that the state is sovereign.
This isn't so different from what the writer of the Pledge of Allegiance
wants us to think — trying to mold students into national socialist
patriots, right?

One clue might
be this: the pledge was originally cited while giving a stiff uplifted
right hand salute — much like the salute of a later proponent of
the national socialism also advocated by the Bellamys — Adolph Hitler.
This practice of saluting while pledging allegiance was discontinued
after the Second World War. [12] Americans were probably unsettled by the
parallels of watching their children Pledge Allegiance to the Flag
and recent images of Hitler Youth doing something similar. In reality,
the pledge has the same goals of mass indoctrination by unthinking,
repetitious, recitation that the Nazi salute accomplished.

Conclusion

What
do I expect my child to learn by not saying the Pledge of Allegiance?

Initially it
will be what my child doesn't learn that will be important. The
first thing my child will learn not to do is thoughtlessly repeat
what others say. I hope that lesson translates into my child having the courage and independence
of mind to not parrot the dictates of the central state and the
mob.

I know it will
be difficult for my child to do this, but standing quietly and respectfully
while others chant will give my child the time to consider the next
lesson: that the vast majority of people willingly give up their
freedom without even knowing it. I expect my child to learn that
citizens are not subservient to the central state, despite the beliefs
of the vast majority of people that everyone's freedom depends upon
that state.

The
most basic lesson in all of these things that I expect my child
to learn is the importance of words and the necessity of asking
questions and thinking to see the ideas behind the words.

As in Orwell's
Animal Farm, where the animals recite words by rote, and
reduce all speech to slogans chanted endlessly to prevent opposition
speakers from being heard and also to prevent any rational thought
by those doing the chanting, mindless recitation of the Pledge of
Allegiance prevents understanding of America. [13]

Words are important
— they mean something — I hope my child will have the courage and
discernment to decide whether what is said is true, independent
of how many say it. Because I love my child, I want my child to
learn to recognize the forces of collectivism that drain the individuality
out of life and sap our freedoms, and to be independent despite
them. Who would want any less for their child?

When my child
is old enough to learn what made America unique in history, it will
be time to study the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution
– u201Cdocuments that come closer than any others in the history
of government to articulating the purpose of, and providing the
blueprints for, a free society.u201D [14]

My child will
learn what Americans should know: recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance
doesn't support American ideals. Instead, it gives away our liberty,
minimizing that for which the founding fathers fought. When my
child becomes an adult, I would proudly support a pledge made, as
by the founding fathers when they pledged u201Cto each other Our Lives,
Our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.u201D [15] This was a pledge made between sovereign individuals
to fight for liberty. The Pledge of Allegiance is none of these
things.

Many people
have died for what they thought made this country free. It isn't
easy to disagree about such an emotional idea. I hope my child
will have the courage to do so.

Oath
for Naturalized Citizens

"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."

In
some cases, INS allows the oath to be taken without the clauses:

" . .
. that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required
by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces
of the United States when required by law . . ." [16]

Notes

[1] Statement by George Balch, a New York City kindergarten
teacher in the 19th century. Cecilia O’Leary and Tony
Platt, u201CPledging Allegiance Does
Not a Patriot Make
,u201D Sunday Los Angeles Times, 25 November
2001.

[2] Dr. John W. Baer, The Pledge of Allegiance: A Short
History
(1992).

[3] Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary
(Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1963) 23.

[4] Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary
of the English Language, 2nd ed. (N.Y.: Simon and
Schuster, 1983) 47.

[5] Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the
English Language, 2nd ed. (N.Y.: Simon and Schuster,
1983) 681.

[6] James Madison, u201CThursday July 26, 1787, In Convention
of the Whole,u201D Madison's Notes.

[7] Quotation is from Franklin's Maxims and Morals.
Gary M. Galles, u201CBen Franklin on Libertyu201D
(Ludwig von Mises Institute, February 3, 2003).

[8] Paul Hein, u201CMuch Ado About Nothing,u201D
(LewRockwell.com, 5 July 2002). This essay has so much that I
agree with, that there are many ideas in it that are the same
or similar to what I've written.

[9] I use the lower case u for united here
because in the Declaration of Independence they used a lower case
letter. United was an adjective describing sovereign States,
and not the name of the centralized government we know as the
United States.

[10] Hancock et al, u201CThe Declaration of Independence,u201D The
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United
States of America (1776; Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute,
1998) 14.

[11] Edward Bellamy, Looking
Backward 2000–1887
(1888; N.Y.: New American Library,
1960).

[12] Dr. John W. Baer, The Pledge of Allegiance A Centennial
History, 1892–1992.

[13] George Orwell, Animal Farm (1946; N.Y.:
New American Library).

[14] Dr. Baer,The Pledge of Allegiance A Short History.

[15] u201CThe Declaration of Independence,u201D 14.

[16] US Government
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services Website
.

March
21, 2003

Jim
Perry [send him mail] is
an engineer in Phoenix, AZ, where he lives with his family.


     

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