Over at the blog Beauty Dish you can find another example of the idiocy behind mandatory recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. Birdie tells us about how her 8-year-old son was suspended for a day because he got creative with the Pledge:
“Your son, 8, has been suspended for the day. Come here and pick him up.”
She didn’t give me time to answer, to ask questions, her voice disappeared as if someone cut the line. I stood in the kitchen, my bare feet aching from yesterday’s marathon, and I took a deep breath. My son can be a nut at times, but he’s never done the kinds of things that troubled kids do. He doesn’t talk back, he doesn’t pick fights, and he’s never destroyed property. I couldn’t picture him doing anything scholastically evil. Maybe he stripped and ran around the school naked, I thought. I grabbed my keys and headed out the door.
The principal met me in her office. She closed the door tightly behind me and invited me to sit in a stuffed orange vinyl chair.
“Mrs. Jaworski, 8 has been suspended from school for one day.” She wore an arctic blue power jacket over black slacks, and I self-consciously tried to pull my hooded sweatshirt further over my pink pajamas.
“It’s Ms., please. And sorry for my attire, but I ran a marathon yesterday and I’m too sore to change this morning.” I tried to infect her with my smile, but she wore a tight-lipped expression as frosty as her jacket. “So, anyway. What did he do?” I picked at the hem of my sweatshirt, looked just to the right of her face. I couldn’t meet her eyes. I felt nervous. I felt underdressed. I wondered where 8 was.
So she told me what he did. And as she told me, I started to laugh. I didn’t laugh a little, either, but I belly-laughed and grabbed my stomach. My son stood with his class this morning, put small right hand over heart, faced the American flag, and recited his own personal pledge of allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Federation of Planets, and to the galaxy for which it stands, one universe, under everybody, with liberty and justice for all species.
“Mrs. Jaworski. This isn’t humorous. The Pledge is an extremely important and patriotic moment each morning in the classroom. I am ashamed of your son’s behavior, and I hope you are, too.”
Birdie’s response was a lot kinder than what mine would’ve been if I were to find myself in the same situation. After that last statement from the Principal my first question probably would’ve been, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, right?”
Most eight-year-olds don’t have anything close to an understanding of what the Pledge of Allegiance is supposed to mean or what significance reciting it involves. It’s just this silly little poem they’re expected to repeat every day in a weird little ritual that the adults around them seem to think is important. There’s more to patriotism than standing around reciting the Pledge or putting stupid “Support Our Troops” magnets on your car. At best you’ve got a bunch of kids who mindlessly recite the pledge without knowing or caring about what it’s supposed to represent and at worst you’re laying the groundwork for future resentment of the Pledge or feelings that it’s little more than a joke. Is that really the sort of patriotism this country needs?
Link found via Boing Boing.