Patriotism and the Pledge of Allegiance

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at 9:05 AM

Every country has its way of displaying patriotism. The Pledge of Allegiance has been the U.S. way for over 100 years. I’ve recited it since kindergarten and all the way to middle school, but is it truly patriotic? Could it possibly be racist?

Early in February, an 11-year-old boy was arrested in a Florida school for refusing to recite the pledge. He claimed that “the American flag represented unfair and discriminatory treatment of black people.” He argued with the substitute teacher of his class over the issue. After repeated attempts to remove the boy from the classroom, he was arrested.

The pledge was written by a Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy, in 1892, meant to be a quick and easy way to show personal patriotism for the U.S. 

Bellamy wanted to add words like “equality” into the pledge, but because of people at that time, and their mindset regarding African-American and women’s rights, he decided to keep that out. Even though he stopped short of “equality,” he was not trying to be racist or further a racist agenda.

The pledge has gone through many changes throughout its lifetime. One of the biggest changes was adding “under God,” which has been the subject of controversy since it was added in 1954.

If its first version, along with the many alterations it went through, were never racist, how is it now racist? The Florida boy seems to think it’s about the relationship it has with the flag and the national anthem. 

The national anthem itself has been mired in controversy over whether it’s racist. Written by a man who owned slaves and who fought many legal cases against abolitionists, many can see where the anthem would be considered racist, especially with its third verse (not heard at sporting events and elsewhere) speaking of “hireling and slave.” This refers to the American slaves freed by British forces and who were called colonial marines (who used to fight in the War of 1812).

Do you believe the pledge is racist? If so, why? If not, should reciting it in school be mandatory even though you have First Amendment rights to refuse? Let me know how you feel.

Beau Bruneau | voices.spectator@gmail.com

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