I get a good deal of flack in my small, conservative, New England home town because I don’t salute the flag. Not that I get in people’s faces about it. When at some public function or historical society meeting everyone gets up to salute the flag, I stand in respectful silence with my hands folded in front of me. But people notice, and glare.
No, I am not a Communist, Socialist, Terrorist sympathizer. Nor do I burn flags although I’ll defend anyone’s right to do so. I choose not to say the Pledge because I don’t believe in making promises I’m not sure I can keep.
In analyzing the Pledge itself, I find myself wondering what the heck I’m declaring my allegiance to. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…” Ally myself to a flag? It’s just a piece of cloth, probably stitched in China. What’s to get excited about? Okay, I know, it’s a symbol. So, moving on:
“…and to the Republic for which it stands…” What “Republic”? The United States of America might have been conceived as a democratic republic, but in reality it is a plutocracy. It’s all about money, folks, and there are more important things to pledge one’s allegiance to.
“…one nation under God…” That’s easy. I’m an atheist.
“…with liberty and justice for all.” Do I really need to point out the disconnect from reality represented by
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think some of the principles the United States was founded on were insightful and profoundly wise. Those Founding Fathers we hear so much about were intelligent, well-educated progressives, inspired by the great thinkers of their time. They did their level best to come up with a form of government as idealistic and resistant to corruption as they possibly could.
Never underestimate the power of corruption. After two hundred years of insidious persistence, behold the United States of Corporate Self-interest. Voters are just another market and elected officials are product.
Am I supposed to be pledging my allegiance to that?
I don’t feel a strong urge to defend my country (except perhaps against its government). I am a citizen of the world, and would wish everyone, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the same rights, responsibilities, and opportunity to try to cobble together a decent, reasonably happy existence out of the contentious, perilous soup we call Life. I’d even seriously consider adding dolphins, cows and emperor penguins to the list. If you could make a good case for the rights of leaf lettuce I’d listen. But it would have to be a damn good argument.
Come up with a manifesto that does not incorporate the concept of “Us” vs. “Them”, and I’ll consider pledging allegiance to it. Until then, go ahead and glare.