Writing to George: Pledges, Oaths, and White Rabbits

I have never been a truly religious person. I have my faith. And as my grandfather used to tell me, that’s between me and…well at the time, Harvey. Yes…the big white, invisible pooka of Jimmy Stewart fame.

That was pretty useful since my other grandfather a) never went to church, b) growled at the minister when he did show up at the farm, and c) had an interesting relationship with the land that I would now call magical.

In their own ways, both of my grandfathers instilled some basic things in my brain.

1. Faith is personal.
2. Question Authority…or even those who carry the trappings of authority.
3. Think critically about stuff…don’t just accept stuff, even loyalty to country, blindly.
4. Oaths and pledges are supposed to be taken seriously.
5. Eat my veggies.

So up went my hackles last night when I was listening to Coast to Coast AM, as is my habit, and George Noory came online with a comment about how he was surprised that some students at Boulder High School walked out in protest over the “under God” bit in the Pledge of Allegiance.

This sent George off into a nostalgic ramble about how as a kid he and his friends never even thought to challenge the Pledge. And that he wasn’t sure if he was completely comfortable with these kids, albeit using their rights as citizens, walking out in protest over the “nation under God” thing.

Naturally, he got several calls and more than a few FastBlasts re: the issue…and he apparently was getting quite a few that never made it on air.

Seems that many of them were ummm…more than a little heated about the damn liberals and their moonbat ways. Cause he was very quick to backtrack and point out that he’s really frustrated with the heated level of divisiveness that seems to permeate the country. And were protests like this part of the reason there was so much hate.

So…this came rolling out of my head after a long night of pondering my annoyance…

Dear George,

The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Baptist minister-Francis Bellamy: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” in an effort to bring a nation, torn apart by civil war, together…united.

The addition of “under God” as lobbied for by the Knights of Columbus didn’t happen until some time in the 1950s, which means that my parents remember a time where there was no “under God” in the pledge. And, I suspect, so do you…if you really think about it.

Last night you spoke of “not even thinking about it” when it came to making that pledge every day. Last night you spoke of taking an oath like that with a blind, unthinking loyalty. And last night you mentioned that your friends did the same.

No thought. Just saying the words.

Tell me, when you took your oath to join the Navy. You know, the one where you swear to uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies-foreign and domestic, did you take that without thinking also?

Last night you questioned the judgment of several high school students for “thinking” about what the Pledge of Allegiance means and not wanting to use the words “under God.” And you wondered if they were part of the reason this country is so divided.

No, George. They aren’t. Not. Even. Close.

What you have here are some students who are actively thinking about what it means to be citizens of the United States of America. They are thinking about the meaning that goes into an oath.

They aren’t just thinking about Paris Hilton. They aren’t just thinking about the Denver Broncos. They aren’t just thinking about Friday’s party. These kids are similar to the young people who thought that Jim Crowe laws should never have existed in the first place and fought like hell to get rid of them.

They are thinking about who they are and how they fit within their country.

The real reasons this country is having issues can be found in the acts of violence and hate against those who would think the Big Thoughts about active citizenship.

These people:

The guy who drives his car into the mosque.

The guys who would blow up clinics: Maryland and Texas.

The woman who tells Americans who disagree with her to “shut up and sing.”

The person who runs his truck over the display of crosses for fallen soldiers.

The person who questions the credibility and intelligence of a Staff Sergeant in the 82ndAirborne who was part of a letter published in the NYTimes-after he’s died.

The guy who dressed up as Secret Service and kicked participants, with tickets, out of a federally funded Presidential Townhall meeting on Social Security.

The officials/people who have forgotten Teddy’s charge that dissent is patriotic and assert through inference that any who and disagree with them are either traitors or terrorist sympathizers.

The people who stood idly by as Senator McCarthy destroyed the lives of hundreds of people during his HUAAC hearings.

The people who will, no doubt, now send hate mail to the kids at Boulder High because these kids had the temerity to ask questions and think for themselves about what the Separation of Church and State means.

Those are your reasons, not the kids who’re asking questions.

What you should be worried about are the thousands upon thousands of kids out there who aren’t thinking beyond what they are told to think…or simply take the oath/pledge without even thinking about it…or are so focused on Michael Vick and Paris Hilton that they haven’t a clue about the world they live in.

And you, George, should be thanking your lucky stars that there are kids like this wandering around thinking the Big Thoughts. They were there when you were blindly saying the Pledge without even thinking about it…with that “of course, I’ll swear” attitude.

The blank faces that appear in my classroom and think they can skate through without thinking are the ones who scare the crap out of me-daily. They are the ones who didn’t think twice about the passing of the Patriot Act, and they won’t think twice about our bombing Iran.

Rest assured George, those unthinking ones? They are the ones who will keep saying the oath just the way you like it.

x-posted over at Dkos.

1 comment

    • kredwyn on September 28, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    thinking critically about the world you live in…even when it’s got a 6′ invisible rabbit wandering around in it…

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