On Friday, October 12, 2001, in wake of the September 11 attacks and as a part of the new patriotism fervor in America, a semi-mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance was held across the country. As a member of the public school system, this school-wide recitation landed loudly on my radar.

First of all, I am American(of the United States. Techinaclly, "American" is anyone living on the continents, North and South.) I'm such a bleeding heart leftist, that I don't always espouse traditional American ideals. (ie I hope to move to Europe soon.) At any rate, after the attacks, signs of patriotism were everywhere. This is all very well and good. My only contention with it is that it almost has a false feeling to it. It was if you got rich or famous or important, and then all those casual acquaintances that used to float through your life are your new best friends. Almost hypocritical. No on cared this much about their country until these big attacks happened. NOW we are up in arms. But to each his own.

"Meanwhile, if all goes as planned, many of the nation's 52 million students will simultaneously recite the Pledge of Allegiance on Oct. 12 The pledge will be recited at 2 p.m. EDT on Oct. 12, and at the corresponding times in the other U.S. time zones."
-US Press Release

Last week happened to be "Spirit Week" at my school. That meant there was a pep rally that afternoon. The entire school was crammed into the gym, and before the students were let loose to do all sorts of ridiculous things in the name of school spirit and healthy class-rivalry, we had a nice somber moment, featuring the chorus singing the National Anthem and everyone reciting the pledge.

In a class that morning, we had been having what was actually an intellectual discussion featuring varied viewpoints on what happened. (That's what you get for being in advanced classes, and it's not a bad thing.) I still noticed a large amount of ignorance floating around. The hypocrisy I mentioned above has spread to almost every different viewpoint. Mine probably included, but I'm trying. People are taking the parts of the truth which support what they already believe.

At any rate, the professor pointed out to us that in our school system we aren't allowed to hang American flags in the classroom because it might offend our non-American students.

For however dissenting I may be, I personally think THAT is stupid. We are in America. It's not as if we'd be hanging up other country's flags with a circle and slash on them. I disagree with the government, esp. the current one, about most everything. At the same time though, AHEM, this IS America. Foreign students can recognize that they are in a country not their own now. If someone had a patch of the Cuban flag on their bookbag no one would make them take it off.

BUT. That doesn't mean that we should force anyone to say the pledge if they are not Americans, or even if they are and they don't agree with it. They can say whatever the hell they want. I can say whatever the hell I want to.

BUT #2. The pledge says "Under God" What about Buddhist Americans? Hindu? Atheists! The problem is that America was founded on freedom of.... whichever type of Christianity you prefer, and maybe we'll let the Jewish people slip in, sort of. Sure, we won't exactly, make you follow different laws if you're of a different spiritual affiliation, but don't you ever forget that you are an outsider.

And so I pointed that out to my ENTIRLY Christian class, when they were trying to say that people should be forced to say the pledge. They didn't seem to have a problem with the idea that America is really freedom of white male Christianity. Sure as time passes it becomes more subtle, less outrightly government sanctioned, but the hidden daily messages are the worst ones.

I find it scary how ignorant people are of the country we live in. Myself perhaps still included. But I want to know. So do some people I have encountered. The vast majority however, doesn't. These are the intelligent youth, I talking about, the promising lights for the future.

At the pep rally, no one was MADE to say the pledge. But if some person had been in the crowd NOT saying it, for whatever reason, they would have drawn strong fire from their peers.

Hang the flag up in your class if you want, we're in America. Someone from Michigan is not going to be offended if they are in North Carolina and they see the North Carolina flag.

Just don't make me say the pledge if I don't want to. I did say it on Friday. I don't have a problem with the pledge, I am American, like it or not. I have a slight problem with the "under God" part, being a heathen, but more so since the 'under God' part is there because congress, of all things, added it along with 'in God we trust' as our national motto instead of 'E Pluribus Unum' back after the Red Scare and the McCarthy era.

On a different subject with the same theme, part of the difficulty with arguing against prayer in school is that even congress (both houses) have chaplains to lead them in prayer (to Christ) before a session. Technically they don't have to BE there for it. This makes it hard to argue that schools can't hold prayers by only referring to the separation of church and state.

"It's very difficult for me as a legislator to start every day with a moment of prayer and then turn around and tell the students they can't,"
said Assistant House Majority Leader Rita Allison of Lyman.

A nation is people. And most of us are Christian. Including our policy makers. This is not new information. What is disturbing is how easy it is to become a silent minority.

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