Thursday, October 15, 2009

We really don't mean what we say, when we say we want young people to care about politics...

... if this is what happens when they do.

From Classically Liberal:

Will Phillips, is a fifth-grade student at West Fork Middle School in West Fork, Arkansas. He is also a student who got into a bit of trouble with the school authorities, especially a substitute teacher who overstepped her boundaries.

Not long ago Will came home and told his mother and father, Laura and Jay Phillips, that he was no longer going to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school. He told them that the pledge talked about "liberty and justice" for all, but that he didn't think this existed for gay people. He told his parents: "To say them [the words of the pledge] and not mean them would be a lie."

But a substitute teacher started getting on his case every day he refused. The teacher just wouldn't let the matter rest. On the fourth day she tried guilt, telling the boy that his mother and grandmother would want him to say the pledge. His response was: "With all due respect, you can jump in a lake." As Laura Phillips said: "Don't push him—four days of hassle, hassle, hassle and raise your voice. He's going to lose his temper." He did, and he had every right to. The matter of forcing students to say the pledge was cleared up in 1943. Apparently this part of Arkansas is stuck in 1942. Schools have no such authority.

I started school in pre- to early civil rights era rural Virginia, where we said the Pledge, said a prayer, and all had New Testaments [with Psalms and Proverbs added] handed out by the Gideons in every public school classroom. We also had nuclear war drills in which we would literally get under our desks in case the Commies hit the microwave relay tower on Afton Mountain with an H-bomb. I suppose it was my earliest lesson in how to kiss my ass goodbye.

It was many, many years, given that upbringing, before I questioned the idea of visible loyalty oaths to the State in a free society.

I am pleased to see that Will Phillips got there many years before I did.


Hube said...

Good for the kid.

Question for you, Steve (or anyone): I have seen teachers/administrators make students at least stand up for the Pledge out of simple respect. Is this a legitimate request? I am familar w/the 1943 Pledge case (wasn't it a Jehovah's Witness or some other religious minority that was the plaintiff?) and know that schools cannot require anyone to say it, but ...

BTW, to add to your childhood anecdote, when in 6th grade we had a Muslim student who not only refused to say the Pledge, he requested to leave the room when it came over the PA system. We thought it was weird, but when he said it "was against his religion," we shrugged our shoulders and said "OK!"

Steve Newton said...

I have mixed feelings about the standing issue, and whether it represents respect or demanded conformity.

I would obviously insist that a child be quiet and respectful while others were saying the Pledge, but I would tend to leave it to the child all other things being equal.

I dated a girl in HS who was a JW, and she preferred to stand and simply not put her hand over her heart and speak, because she didn't see herself as protesting, just following her religion. She said that her religion did not require her to make a big issue out of it, just not to say it. And I think some students would prefer to stand silently rather than draw that much attention.

On the other hand: as long as they are quiet and respectful, why shouldn't students be able to stay seated [in my book respectful would include not doing anything else like reading for those few moments].

Probably not a satisfactory answer, but I am not sure there is one.

townie 76 said...

Steve, the Pledge Case was West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette which was decided in 1942. Interesting case considering we were in the middle of World War II.

Not sure if you were expose to this in Augusta County Schools but in Lexington Schools we were required to take Bible once a week. Taught by a nice women it was very Protestant and we envied the Catholics and Jews who were excused as we utterly hated it.


Delaware Watch said...

I remember doing the duck and cover in school. I also remember seeing a film on TV of a building being swept by the implosive force of an A bomb (perhaps it was the H bomb?). In my own childlike way I wondered what the point was of ducking and covering if the school building was going to vanish after an A bomb exploded. I was born a cynic. :)

tinny ray said...

Great post. There is so much bad about the Pledge that needs to be said.

Francis Bellamy (cousin of author Edward Bellamy) was a socialist in the Nationalism movement and authored the Pledge of Allegiance (1892), the origin of the stiff-armed salute adopted much later by the National Socialist German Workers Party. See the work of the symbologist Dr. Rex Curry.

The early pledge began with a military salute that was then extended out toward the flag. In practice, the second gesture was performed palm-down with a stiff-arm when the military salute was merely pointed out at the flag. Thus, the military salute led to the Nazi salute in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States.

It was not an ancient Roman salute. That is a myth debunked by Dr. Curry, who showed that the myth came from the Pledge.

American national socialists (including Edward Bellamy), in cooperation with Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society, popularized the use of the Swastika (an ancient symbol) as a modern symbol for socialism long before the symbol was adopted by the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis).

The Bellamys influenced the National Socialist German Workers Party and its dogma, rituals and symbols (including the modern use of the swastika as crossed S-letters for "Socialism" under German National Socialism). Similar alphabetical symbolism was used under the NSDAP for the "SS" division, the "SA," the "NSV," et cetera and similar symbolism is visible today as the Volkswagen VW logo.