Resolved: The American Pledge of Allegience is immoral

Mind you, I’ve never even voted Democrat. I guess I’m coming off more Libertarian or Cardinal Party than Conservative.
Argument for the affirmative:

The Pledge demands that the user be loyal to the political state, regardless of the actions of that state. No mention is made of critical judgment being used to evaluate the morality of participating in or supporting the actions of that state.

“…and to the republic for which it stands.” What if that republic decides to do something you consider immoral? Will you participate in that action because you recited a couple sentences a few thousand times as a kid?

The PoA is a Cold War relic, from when commies were “around every corner” looking to corrupt the youth, and it was considered almost unthinkable by the masses at large that the US would be doing something immoral. This despite the history of dealings with the American Indians, Central America (, etc.

Is the US Federal government your moral compass? To what would you pledge real lasting loyalty? Your school? Is that leadership infallible? Is your church’s? Is any organization led by actual people? Even the Bible doesn’t ask for an unquestioning pledge of loyalty for something as valued as marriage.

Now, some of you might argue that the PoA is to the idea of the USA, to the ideals behind the organization. Haven’t these things changed quite a bit in the past? Aren’t they likely to change in the future? Aren’t there large debates currently about the practical outcomes of the differences in interpretations of what America “means”? There are fundamental disagreements between different schools of thought and moralities, and the power structure is likely to shift in the future, meaning that the America you get 20 years from now may be significantly changed from the one you have now. Are you willing now to swear loyalty to that one, even if you are willing to pledge yourself to the current version?

As for the ones of you who say that I’m being too literal in my interpretation of what the PoA asks of you, I ask you to actually write out the words and read them as if you have not encountered this before. Pretend you’re from another culture entirely, and compare it to the kind of things you’ve heard of from totalitarian states. Remove the phrases “United States of America” and “one nation under God”, and what’s the substantive difference between it and something from the Stalinist USSR? Phrases like “with liberty and justice for all” are routinely used by some of the worst governments in the world. Saying them doesn’t create the reality they describe.

The PoA was not written in another language, or by people distantly culturally removed from us. There’s not room for argument about the true meaning of the words. We are being asked to swear loyalty to a political structure that is in constant flux, that may do any manner of things in the future, and has a past record that contains numerous immoral actions. To give over your moral judgment to another is the action of a child. Adults with reasoning and judgment abilities are required to make their own moral decisions. We value not the Soviet or German or Ugandan citizens who remained loyal to their governments regardless of the governments’ attitudes and actions, but those who used personal morality to be disloyal to that structure when its morality ran aground. In blind loyalty, there is no true morality, only blindness.

I never liked it as a child, and I specifically dropped mention of God, and I’m as patriotic as it comes. It should be banned from public schools.

I’ve never approved of it. Nor have I ever taken it seriously as an oath of loyalty; it’s something they make kids say. They could get the average kid to swear allegiance to Ming the Merciless at that age; the kids just want it out of the way. They aren’t going to feel some sort of obligation to America because of it; a coerced oath like that doesn’t mean anything.

And of course I find the religious aspect especially repellent.

FWIW the religious aspect was a late addition. Originally it read:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1954 (McCarthy era) they switched it to:

*“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” *

Chalk up a win for the Religious Right on this one.

I agree as an oath of loyalty foisted on kids who have little choice in the matter (I suppose technically they do but they are kids so as a practical matter they don’t) the oath is worthless. I recall mumbling the words without feeling any sense of loyalty. I was too young to be indoctrinated. They were just words, it was just what we were supposed to blather every day before classes started. I never paid attention to the words and I feel safe in saying most of my peers saw it the same way. Essentially we ignored it, it meant nothing to us.

FTR I consider myself patriotic. I just do not see the PoA as necessary to my patriotism.

I used to recite it in school until they added the “under god” phrase and then I stopped. Then I realized how idiotic it is to worhip a flag.

At what age in the US do they stop making you recite the pledge? Does it depend on the school, or the state?

Before we even get to the “under God” part, this is what bothers me. I think it’s silly to declare “allegiance” to anything. I love my mother, but I won’t claim any allegiance to her. Even she could turn out to be a jerk.

In the end, I find the POA more silly than anything else.

Well the term allegiance is just another word for commitment.

Do you have a commitment to your mum? I bet you do and would always. Certainly not all people would but most people would stand by your family. Even Jeffrey Dahmer’s dad did. But Dahmer’s brother did not.

But let’s look at the plege

What this is saying is I have commitment to the the United States of America.

The flag is a symbol of that. You’re not pledging anything to a piece of cloth you’re pledging it to the USA, that is why it says “For which it stands.”

When you have a commitment that means you have certain duties and obligations TOWARD that entity and have the right to expect duties and such in return.

What this means is you’re committing to the NATION not to any one particular individual state or group of states, but as whole.

Look at it like this, suppose you have a job, and the company you work for decides to donate money to PETA, but you own a mink coat. Do you quit your job? Of course not. Committing to someone does not mean agreeing with them 100% of the time. And to understand another’s actions doens’t mean you condone them.

I’ll come back to this

this means the nation cannot be divided. Again it is a way of affirming your commitment to the NATION rather than say California alone

This means everyone in the state will enjoy liberty and justice. Now that doesn’t mean things will always work out for them. Justice is simply another word for “Fairness”

Suppose I’m innocent of murder and someone sets me up. I go through a trial and am found guilty. That is justice. The outcome is just wrong. The trial was conducted to standard and was fair, but the jury just reached the wrong conclusion.

This is hard because most people think Justice = Truth. It’s not. Justice is about the process not the conclusion, which could be wrong.

Liberty is another way of saying freedom. We all know there are no absolute freedoms. The best example is you have a right to free speech but you do not have a right to yell fire in a crowded theatre.

So the pledge is basically saying

I have commitment to the United States of America and the flag is a symbol of that nation. I give this commitent not to any individual state, poltical party or group but to the nation as a whole, and for giving this commitment I expect to be treated fairly and I expect all people of this group to be treated fairly.

The section under God, was added later and is a bit controversal. I am not exactly happy with it, but it doesn’t define God. It can be any God. Now the argument is “But Mark, athiests are left out.” And this is so, unless the athiest chooses to define God as the force behind pure science.

OK it’s pushing it a bit, but it’s not 100% unreasonable.

The United States and it’s Constitution are a living document and living nation. It changes and concepts of fairness and justice change.

Remember justice is not truth and justice is NOT revenge.

For instance on the news someone murders someone and the victims of the family say they want justice. No they don’t they want revenge. They want to see punishment.

The PoA is ridiculous and makes the US seem like a communist dictatorship, indoctrinating millions of “happy workers” of the future every morning before school.

Can you imagine if Obama had come up with the idea for the PoA? First the right would be all over him for creating a cult of personality, they they would object to under “God” instead of “Jesus Christ” because they’d think that using God was a way to include Allah and gloss over the historical fact that the United States was based on Christianity.

It doesn’t demand any such thing.

Anyone who recites the Pledge is promising “allegience” to the USA—no more, no less. As I interpret it, this does not mean the same thing as “unquestioning loyalty.” Geez, where’d people get the idea that any sort of love, loyalty, or patriotism has to be blind, totalitarian obeisance?

And the Pledge says nothing about the USA getting your highest allegience, above anyone or anything else. In fact, one implication of the “under God” phrase is that allegience to God comes before allegience to country.

The biggest problem I see with the Pledge is that you let school children, who often times parrot the words without understanding their meaning, and who are far too young to enter into lasting contracts, say it every morning.

If every adult at the age of 18, after discussing what it means, had to take it once, as kind of visible ceremony that he believes in the social contract, a working state, a functioning society governend by laws, and wants to uphold all of it, then it would be a good idea and mean something. (And maybe a discussion would stop some of those libertarians/ anarchists who always want to do away with the state and don’t feel beholden to society while leeching from it.)

Having immature children parrot it, but stop saying it once you reach adulthood, just seems backward.

How is it appropriate to try to coerce nationalistic “allegiance?”

And the argument that “under God” does not refer to any particular god misses the point. It’s not what the phrase includes, but what it excludes, which is any belief that is not monotheistic.

As someone who is an outsider to American culture, I often find your level of patriotism to be borderline disturbing. Of course, I am proud of my own country, but I didn’t need a pledge to make me appreciate it. This is actually the first time I have learned that the Pledge of Allegiance is recited in schools. As an outsider I am not comfortable with that, and would probably see it as part and parcel of this unwavering love for the United States I often see.

Just want to point out that you’re wrong here.

The pledge clearly states that you are pledging allegiance to the flag and to the Republic. And. Inclusive.

FTR, I have no problem with pledging loyalty to my country, but I haven’t said the “under God” part since I was old enough to realize I was an atheist (prolly about age 10 or so).

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under Brains, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I dunno. To me that sounds more like the zombie pledge of allegiance than the atheist.

Yes, I can see that. In the US, we’re not just raised to be proud of our country but have it pounded into our heads that America is literally The Greatest Country Which Has Ever Existed, that this is a fact as indisputable as gravity or the boiling point of water, and that there is something wrong with you – something immoral about you – if you disagree.

I remember Bill O’Reilly going nuts one time because of a Molson Canadian commercial in which a Canadian (in a Canadian commercial for a Canadian product) sang the praises of being a Canadian and called Canada “the best part of North America.” O’Reilly actually took this as an outrageous insult and brought the actor on his show to browbeat him about it. It was the epitome of Ugly American arrogance and stupidity. We’re not all like that, but, unfortunately, we’re indoctrinated from the cradle to think that kind of attitude is normal and right.

I see it as no more problematic than the oath naturalized citizens are required to take. (Well, except the god part, that’s still wrong on many levels.) It’s reasonable to expect a citizen to be loyal to their country, or else what’s the definition of treason? If you completely decry loyalty to your country, then it should be perfectly OK with you to plot against it, to work toward its destruction.

I say loyalty is a good place to start from, but that the other freedoms the Constitution enumerates allow for–insist upon–an educated, consciously governed responsibility to continue work for a government that deserves that loyalty. It invests the individual citizen with a sense of his/her active participation in that government.

It’s not demanding a blind loyalty to any one person or party; it’s reminding us that we should support and defend the overall system–i.e., the Constitution–that makes (or, that made, until Bushco did so much damage to it) this country what it is.

It’s a pledge to the American Ideal, and (minus the god bit), I think it’s a good thing.

As an American abroad, there is no borderline about it. I cringe every time I hear the USA! USA! USA! chants that are no different from any of the dictatorships around the world.

You shouldn’t be plotting against any country unless they’ve done something bad enough to justify taking action. It has nothing to do with allegience, just with being a civilised human being.