Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Pledge Allegiance... to what?

Instapundit had a link about how embarassed some people are by the Pledge of Allegiance. That's not particularly news. Patriotism has been seen as unseemingly simple-minded for quite a while now. Reciting the pledge is very Old School.

But I had a thought today putting this together with another trend that seems to be happening. See if you think this follows or if I've gone off the deep end.

Something that is weirdly incomprehensible to most Americans are the posters, calendar pictures, public display of foreign leaders' likenesses in their countries. If it's Putin or Qaddafi or some far East monarch... it's just *weird*. Do we put up tributes to Bush? To Clinton? Heck no. We even think that the (small, tasteful) framed portraits of the chain of command mandated in our military facilities is weird. (If occasionally useful.) The only larger than life likenessess of our leaders are protest effagies and those are weird, too, like trying to channel some other national culture than our own.

There are other factors that discourage this kind of cult of personality in the US. Foremost, I would say, is that our presidents serve such short terms. There may be other countries that have elections just as often, but how many of them limit the top spot to 8 years? Does anyone? The transitional nature of the office makes it less likely we get overly focused on who is in it.

And now I wonder if the Pledge might also contribute to keeping us from focusing so strongly on "fearless leader". Let's see if I can even remember it all... I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisable, with liberty and justice for all. Did I miss something? I'm going to have to look it up. It's one of those things that you know in your bones right up to the point that you think about it.

Do we pledge allegiance to our president? No. We pledge it to the nation and then we quickly state the most important principles that apply, liberty and justice for all.

It continues to baffle me when support for this administration is portrayed as unquestioning support for the individual in office. Where does this come from? It is weird when "the other side" crows about how Bush will bring down the whole Republican party. As if *he* as a personality embodies the whole of it. It makes me think, is this how *they* see their leaders? Do leaders need to be either worshiped or hated? I don't see that, but it worries me that a whole lot of Bush-haters seem to accept this as a matter of course.

I think that maybe, just maybe, there's a whole lot of people who need to start reciting the pledge again to get their focus off of personalities and back on service to the nation and the quest for liberty and justice for every person.

Because if I have to look forward to a future of US Presidential Calendars like the one of Putin I saw with glittery lip gloss and everything... I may be ill.

3 Comments:

Anonymous dj elliott said...

Military oath is not to any individual as well.
"...protect and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic,..."
It is an oath to a system, not a person or party.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Ymarsakar said...

The only time I was embarassed was if I didn't remmeber the words and was just listening along like an idiot, to the intercome pledge.

Then I started making up my own pledges for fun. I Pledge Allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, to defend it against all enemies foreign or domestic, was one such thing once I heard it on Babylon 5.

Weird, to hear it on Babylon 5 and not the public school I was in. They never did tell us the whole purpose of the pledge, it was just a chore to be done. In the South there is a sense that it is part of some discipline, that nobody really tells you about. But if they did tell you like synova has written here, it would start to perhaps make sense to some people early on.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous John in IL said...

We even think that the (small, tasteful) framed portraits of the chain of command mandated in our military facilities is weird.

I grew up with a little plaque of JFK on my bedroom wall. I knew I loved him. I didn't know why.

9:13 PM  

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