Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rewriting the Pledge

Ran across this comic recently and thought I'd share it here.

Too bad it rings so true even though it is more than 15 years old...



I have a feeling, and it doesn't make me happy, this cartoon will resonate for a long time to come.

Ceroill said...

Yep. Reminds me of a small book that was written some years back. The man was spurred to write it by the fact that his young son did not understand what he was saying when he recited the pledge. He commented on us teaching our children to recite something they had no understanding of. Wish I could recall the name of that book.

derF said...

Following the exchange with Creepy Ass, this posting seems particularly apt. In America, there seems to be a broad swath of the English language that is lost to political conditioning. The use of words like communist, capitalist, entrepreneur,
or vital interests have been co-opted in the pursuit of agenda.

It is almost at a point where elements of the language must be re-defined at the start of each conversation.


I read something funny about the pledge a year or so ago. The basic gist was that the pledge was actually penned by a labor organizer who wanted to use it to promote unity. I wonder how many right wing congressmen and religous sorts realize this.

Ceroill said...

Here's the link to a page I found detailing the history of the pledge.

Just to take up some more space I'll paste the contents here:

The Pledge of Allegiance
A Short History
by Dr. John W. Baer

Copyright 1992 by Dr. John W. Baer

Francis Bellamy (1855 - 1931), a Baptist minister, wrote the original Pledge in August 1892. He was a Christian Socialist. In his Pledge, he is expressing the ideas of his first cousin, Edward Bellamy, author of the American socialist utopian novels, Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897).

Francis Bellamy in his sermons and lectures and Edward Bellamy in his novels and articles described in detail how the middle class could create a planned economy with political, social and economic equality for all. The government would run a peace time economy similar to our present military industrial complex.

The Pledge was published in the September 8th issue of The Youth's Companion, the leading family magazine and the Reader's Digest of its day. Its owner and editor, Daniel Ford, had hired Francis in 1891 as his assistant when Francis was pressured into leaving his baptist church in Boston because of his socialist sermons. As a member of his congregation, Ford had enjoyed Francis's sermons. Ford later founded the liberal and often controversial Ford Hall Forum, located in downtown Boston.

In 1892 Francis Bellamy was also a chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association. As its chairman, he prepared the program for the public schools' quadricentennial celebration for Columbus Day in 1892. He structured this public school program around a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute - his 'Pledge of Allegiance.'

His original Pledge read as follows: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ]

Dr. Mortimer Adler, American philosopher and last living founder of the Great Books program at Saint John's College, has analyzed these ideas in his book, The Six Great Ideas. He argues that the three great ideas of the American political tradition are 'equality, liberty and justice for all.' 'Justice' mediates between the often conflicting goals of 'liberty' and 'equality.'

In 1923 and 1924 the National Flag Conference, under the 'leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge's words, 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.' Bellamy disliked this change, but his protest was ignored.

In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.

Bellamy's granddaughter said he also would have resented this second change. He had been pressured into leaving his church in 1891 because of his socialist sermons. In his retirement in Florida, he stopped attending church because he disliked the racial bigotry he found there.

What follows is Bellamy's own account of some of the thoughts that went through his mind in August, 1892, as he picked the words of his Pledge:

It began as an intensive communing with salient points of our national history, from the Declaration of Independence onwards; with the makings of the Constitution...with the meaning of the Civil War; with the aspiration of the people...

The true reason for allegiance to the Flag is the 'republic for which it stands.' ...And what does that vast thing, the Republic mean? It is the concise political word for the Nation - the One Nation which the Civil War was fought to prove. To make that One Nation idea clear, we must specify that it is indivisible, as Webster and Lincoln used to repeat in their great speeches. And its future?

Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity.' No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all...

If the Pledge's historical pattern repeats, its words will be modified during this decade. Below are two possible changes.

Some prolife advocates recite the following slightly revised Pledge: '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, born and unborn.'

A few liberals recite a slightly revised version of Bellamy's original Pledge: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with equality, liberty and justice for all.'


Baer, John. The Pledge of Allegiance, A Centennial History, 1892 - 1992, Annapolis, Md. Free State Press, Inc., 1992.
Miller, Margarette S. Twenty-Three Words, Portsmouth, Va. Printcraft Press, 1976.

For more information about the history of the Pledge, be sure to also read the three online chapters of The Pledge of Allegiance, A Centennial History, 1892 - 1992 by Dr. Baer:

o The Youth's Companion's Pledge
o American Socialists and Reformers

Do you have other questions or comments about the "short history" or about the chapters shown above?
Please contact:

Dr. John W. Baer
10 Taney Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 268 - 1743

This web page is maintained by Chris Baer.

Tf Poma said...

I'm glad to see derf was able to grab a little bandwidth in the basement.
I've been called a Liberal, and damn prod of it, but never a neo-con. Thanks for the experience derf bag.

I remember my days in high school Calculus. Back then I recited a whole lot of shit i didn't understand but it got me through the class. I really didn't mind.

derF said...

And I can only deduce that you still don't mind.


Well I guess my memory wasn't one hundred percent correct(why the fuck I rely on it, I don't know), but if I say so myself I wasn't that far off. The Bellamys would not fit very nicely with the religious or political right, nonetheless.



I gotta say you left yourself wide open.

jan said...

Have I told you lately that I love you guys?

Just a reminder, I had my students pledge to the Constitution.

Flags are okay, but they are nationalistic, and nationalism to the extreme is fascism.
I've never been able to see a good side to fascism.

Our Constitution? Other than its admitted flaws (slavery, women's vote, prohibition) it's worth pledging to, imo.

Thanks for the good info, as always.

jan said...

well, i forgot the most imprtant part -- LOVE THE CARTOON. Love ALL his cartoon, but especially loved this one.
thx, csm

Ceroill said...

My own experience as a kid of about 12 was wondering why we pledged to a colored piece of cloth. Nation is one thing. Flag? Seemed a tad ridiculous to me. Still does. Yep, not far off Bawdy. Of course I find it amusing (in a wry way) that there were those who felt the need to have the religious element tacked on there, as well as on our money. Somehow it wasn't good enough before that, apparently.


I dunno, I don't have much of a problem with the flag symbolizing our country. I think it would look more foolish to have a textilized version of our Beloved Constitution flapping in the breeze. What I am proud of though, is the fact I still well up inside when at a ballgame or a parade(I think small town parades are the BEST)and I see Old Glory carried by a Color Guard with my hand on my breast. Maybe I am just old-fashioned that way. I also get emotional hearing "Taps" or just about anything on the bagpipes, go figure.

derF said...

Yeah, I find my eyes tear every time my ears are subjected to a painfully shrill skreal as well:)

csm said...

I got emotional after hearing "Living After Midnight" performed on the bagpipes, but it is an emotion I'd rather not feel again ;-)


I guess bagpipes are and acquired taste. Kinda in the same category as guitar feedback and I love that shit too.


Here's a question for all out there in "Serenity of Reason"land. In Phoenix this afternoon we had one of those car chases that seem to be all the rage of late and in the coverage of the live chase two local media helicopters crashed into each other and all on board both copters perished. In the initial police briefing I just witnessed there was talk of charging the suspect on the ground for the deaths of the newspersons and pilots. Does that seem right to you guys? Somehow it doesn't to me, but maybe I can be persuaded by your arguments. I realize the copters wouldn't have collided if the carjacker hadn't fled, but what if this had happened if the copters had been reporting on flood conditions or a warehouse fire?

Ceroill said...

Bawdy, I agree about the copters. As to the flag, please bear in mind I'm not saying I dislike the flag, or its status as a symbol of our country. Just that to my young mind at the time it seemed strange to be pledging allegiance to an object of any kind. But I do have to wonder about the practice of extracting a loyalty oath from children, especially those who are so young they have no real idea what they're saying.

jan said...

My chime-in:
I get all misty eyed for Anchors Away.
And I have no problem with the flag.
And for the national song, I like "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

But Bob summed up my thoughts. As a kid I never quite got why the piece of cloth was a big deal.

Now, as an adult, I just think we need to start being a DIFFERENT nation, a NEW nation.
How much different are we than Canada or Australia, who have stayed under Britain rule instead of having a REVOLTution against British rule?

We should have no problem with any flag. Our loyalties should be to that piece of paper. My students faced the flag and they put their hand over their heart. But the pledge they made was to our Constitution.

I know I'm not alone, but to me, the only thing that makes us a great nation is that piece of paper, not that flag.
On the helicopters, I'm solidly on your side, bawdy.

And on the bagpipes, I'm solidly on your side too. I LOVE bagpipes. It must be a Scotch-Irish thing.

p.s. Bawdy, any new thoughts on our "Born Fighting" Senator, Jim Webb?

derF said...

When I was a kid, my family was so poor that we couldn’t afford the requisite sheep’s intestine required to construct a set of bagpipes. Because of this, to mimic their sound, I would hold my nose between my thumb and forefinger, exhale a lungful of air through my larynx as a droning sound and strike my throat gently with the edge of my free hand. Of course it was a poor imitation of a true set of bagpipes. It also left a subliminal connection between the skreal of bagpipes and the act of holding my nose.

Perhaps because of these circumstances, it has been difficult to make the connection between my mother’s embrace, the enveloping universality of Wallace’s cause, the familial identity of a textile tartan weave and the air splitting melodic sound of this ancient Celtic instrument. It occurs to me that it is not so much different with other cultural totems. Our interpretations of the world around us are, to a large degree, dependant upon foundational experiences.

In childhood, these foundational experiences are, of necessity, controlled. A complication of this is that, in an ever changing world, we are conditioned to internalize the inherited wisdom of the previous generation. The world changes; our consciousness lags behind.

This over-arching concern with liability seems another example of this. We might be further ahead in addressing issues that face us if we just forget liability and approach them directly.

derF said...

"Just the fact that monkeys have hands should be enough to give us pause."



I hate to bust your childhood bubble, but my childhood included no mention by my parents of my ancestral heritage. My father, the Scot(which I deduced by the last name he left me with)never ever mentioned anything about our shared origins. Hell, he never mentioned much about his own childhood(I gather is wasn't much to revel over). Oh, and we had no pipe music in the house either.

I realized my love for the bagpipes and in turn my Scottish heritage at the first Highland games I witnessed many years ago. When confronted with a couple dozen pipe bands on a college football field and their rendition of "Amazing Grace" and "Scotland the Brave" I could not control myself and the tears started to flow. It has been a love affair ever since.

I get the feeling you are teasing to some degree, but I wanted you to know, it wasn't until latter in my life(my 30's)that I began to realize from where I came and that I have a deep affection for the old homeland and lastly that it resides in my heart. Pretty sentimental, huh?

derF said...

My humble apologies; I stand suitably



That certainly wasn't my intention as I realized your posts were in good humor and that everyone can benefit from a good deflation every now and again, especially myself. I can only imagine what kind of gas Washington, D.C. has been inflated with and of course who or what will initiate the de-flation.

Ceroill said...

Bawdy, I had the great good fortune to have been born into a family with an interest in our own history, at least on my Mom's side (the scots/irish side). I won't say much about that here, as it's of no real importance. I just want to say that I also had the amazing chance in the summer of '76 to go with my parents and brother to the British Isles for six weeks. Scotland and Ireland most especially are If you ever get the chance, GO!