Like any good, red-blooded American boy, I must have recited the Pledge of Allegiance hundreds of times throughout my school years. I did this without really thinking about what the words meant or where they came from. For all I knew the Pledge of Allegiance was an appendix to the Declaration of Independence.
Even as an adult the Pledge seems to command a special kind of reverence. If anyone speaks critically of it at all it is either to attack or defend the inclusion of “under God” in its prose. With this much patriotism surrounding it, what could be more American than the Pledge of Allegiance?
A lot, it turns out.
Few Americans realize that the Pledge of Allegiance was authored by an avowed socialist, Francis Bellamy, in 1892. Bellamy’s purpose with the Pledge, besides selling a lot of American flags to schools, was to indoctrinate America’s schoolchildren into a nationalist mentality. What’s the best way to get Americans to forget that their forefathers viewed the nation as an aggregation of sovereign states? Have the idea of a national, indivisible republic pounded into their little heads every day for 13 years.
Not that this should be surprising. Socialists have always understood that the way to ensure the ascendancy of their ideas was to control education, a ploy that has been implemented very successfully in the United States. Unfortunately the government education that these kids get will never lead them to question whether or not the Pledge is the slightest bit creepy. Or un-American.
After all, can we really picture George Washington or Thomas Jefferson standing and taking an oath of eternal allegiance to a flag? That would seem out of character for the generation that said that if a government ever became abusive, it would be the “right” and the “duty” of the people to “throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
A lot of well-intentioned people support the daily recitation of the Pledge by schoolkids, convinced that it inculcates patriotism and good citizenship. In reality, what it teaches kids – and adults for that matter – is a distorted view of how the country was originally structured, with devotion to home, community and state superseding allegiance to the nation. The widespread defense of the Pledge today only serves as evidence of the thorough redefinition of the federal government’s role in American life.
Allegiance is too important, too personal to pledge to a central government. It should be reserved for the really vital parts of life: faith, family and community. These are deserving of our allegiance. A centralized government masquerading as our “one, indivisible nation,” one that does nothing but attempt to take away the rights of its people, is not.
This is what early Americans believed. It is a pity that we have forgotten it.