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Sieg Heil!

Dale McGowan, author of Parenting Beyond Belief, gave me one more reason to dislike the pledge of allegiance. Take a gander at the original gesture for saluting the flag:


Dale’s smarter than I am, but I’m not going to take just his word for it. This set off my urban-legend alarms, so to keep up my skeptic street cred, I had to look for another source. I found a FoxNews article to corroborate Dale’s fishy story:

The original gesture when reciting the Pledge was not the current right hand held over the heart, but the “Roman salute” — a movement of the right hand away from the heart until it pointed away from the body. That fell out of favor when the Fascists in Italy and later the Nazis in Germany adopted the same salute.…

In 1942, soon after America entered World War II, Congress officially endorsed the Pledge of Allegiance and instituted the current hand-over-heart gesture.

To be fair, we used the straight-arm salute first, so they’re the copycats. :P

Actually, if you prefer your history with a hint of conspiracy theory, Rex Curry has a lot to say and provides some provocative visual aids:

[girl scout porn]

I bet fewer people would be complaining about the Boy Scout uniform if more girls like Kate had been in their troop. (There’s more of Kate in her uniform, if you dare.)

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Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the ideals of the United States of America,
And to the republic by which they are upheld,
One nation, indivisible, with liberty, opportunity, and justice for all.

It strikes me as backward that the citizens of my home country pledge allegiance first to a piece of cloth symbolizing the United States, second to the republic which is assumed to have liberty and justice for all. This promotes a kind of shallow patriotism for symbols and institutions which can easily be corrupted to become nationalism.

Our allegiance would be better placed with the ideals of liberty and justice and only secondarily to the republic of the United States. We have seen recently how the republic has been perverted. The executive branch uses the authoritarian tactics of ubiquitous surveillance, torture, restriction of liberty, and so forth in the name of public security. The republic itself is only a tool to promote liberty and justice. When that tool fails to fulfill its purpose, we are duty-bound to either reform the tool or, if that proves impossible, to discard it in favor another tool which will serve our purposes. I hope that the adapted pledge above embodies well placed allegiance.

I am sure many religious readers will be upset by the omission of the words “under God”. They may perceive this as an attack on the religious values of the people of the United States. The reality is that this is the opposite of the truth. Our great nation was founded by men who were wise enough to create a separation between the religious and political powers. This protects the church from the tyranny and corruption of the state, and the state from undue influence by the church. Our Founding Fathers created a secular state (i.e. a state with no power to discourage or promote religion) in order to protect the free exercise of its citizens’ consciences. Removing the words “under God” is an acknowledgment of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in creating a secular state where the people are free to be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, to have no religion at all, or whatever else their consciences may dictate without the threat of state oppression.

Additionally, the words “under God” were only added in the middle of the 20th century. The pledge of allegiance hasn’t contained that language for over half of its history. Removing the religious language in the current pledge is a correction, reverting it to its original, secular state.

The adaptation quoted at the beginning of this post was intended to preserve the familiar cadence of the current pledge. It should be easy to recite this adaptation in place of the current pledge. The following adaptation however is more in line with what I see as the ideal pledge, but it doesn’t have the same singsong rhythm we learned as schoolchildren. I prefer it anyway because it embodies more closely what I think is great about the United States of America.

I pledge allegiance to the ideals of liberty, opportunity, and justice for all;
And to the republic by which they are upheld,
One nation, indivisible, a home for the noble free.

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