Every day, in classrooms, in civic club meetings, in political functions, in many other settings, people rise, face the United States Flag, and recite the Pledge Of Allegiance. What are they pledging allegiance to? The U.S. flag, of course.
Please understand, I admire the flag, I respect it, I try to practice correct flag etiquette, and I think it is the most impressive of all the national flags. But I don’t see why I owe it any allegiance. After all, it is nothing but a symbol. For sure, it is a symbol of a country I love and that I call home. But it remains nothing but a symbol. Admiring it makes no direct contribution to my liberty – indeed, recent misguided attempts to make flag burning illegal seek to actually diminish my liberty.
(As an aside, this proposed law has always amused me because the “correct” way to retire an old, faded or damaged flag is to burn it. Yes, after separating the Union from the Field but burning is the prescription of the day. Were such a law to be enacted, would we then see cadres of Boy Scouts being hustled off to jail after each flag retirement ceremony? But, I digress.)
As I said above, a flag is a symbol, but what are flags typically symbolic of? Down through history, they have served several purposes, most always related to war:
→ Flags serve as a rallying point for troops during combat,
→ Flags serve as symbols of defiance (such as the “Come and Take It” flag used during the Texas Revolution,
→ Flags serve as symbols of conquest (such as the flag raising at Iwo Jima),
→ Flags serve as symbols of territorial sovereignty (such as the flags that fly over our government buildings to indicate said buildings are on U.S. territory).
Each and every example above is an example of symbolism that, in itself, really does not indicate much – in my mind, certainly nothing worthy of unwavering allegiance.
As I write this, the U.S. continues its headlong surge toward dictatorship. Should that dictatorship come to reality, do you expect the flag will change? I don’t. Will you then have unwavering allegiance for what it represents? I certainly will not.
I submit that, to the extent we teach our young anything worth learning, teaching them to pledge their allegiance to a symbol whose meaning is inconstant, is yet another example of encouraging what I call “muddy thinking” – thinking that does not lead to a clear understanding of a fact that is worth knowing.
Imagine with me for a moment, a different scenario. Imagine that every day, in classrooms, in civic club meetings, in political functions, in many other settings, people rise, face the United States Flag, and recite a pledge that begins “I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America”.
Is there a difference? You bet there is. In the first place, our Constitution is not a symbol, instead, it is a body of concepts, that, if strictly adhered to, will do more to promote universal human liberty than any other concept to come from the minds of men (and from the women who, no doubt, influenced them).
If U.S. citizens were constantly reminded that their allegiance is to our Constitution, and the accompanying responsibility to defend, protect and obey it, might things be on a different tack?
Think about it.
Troy L Robinson