Should we get rid of the Pledge of Allegiance? | The Tylt
Should we get rid of the Pledge of Allegiance?
The pledge was written in 1892 by a magazine promotions writer named Francis Bellamy in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing on North American soil. Written during a time of great change in the social landscape of the country, many saw the newly instated Columbus Day and the corresponding pledge as ways to codify "real Americanism." Per The Washington Post:
Through the pledge, Bellamy sought to define “true Americanism” against the rising tide of southern and eastern European immigrants “pouring over our country” in the early 20th century from “races which we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard.” Although Bellamy conceded that “the United States has always been a nation of immigrants,” he argued that “incoming waves of immigrants … are coming from countries whose institutions are entirely at variance with our own.”
...Bellamy’s pledge advanced the goal of assimilation — written to, in his words, “mobilize the masses to support primary American doctrines” by warding off internal enemies hostile to “true Americanism.” The creation and proliferation of the pledge, in part, served as a way to consolidate white Anglo-Saxon Protestant American values that the white mainstream perceived as under siege.
The phrase "one nation, under God," added in 1954 by Congress as a way to push back against the spread of "godless" communism, has been a consistent source of controversy as many say it is a blatant disregard of the separation of church and state.
Lawmakers have argued, and the Supreme Court has maintained, it is not a state-mandated acknowledgment of one specific Judeo-Christian God. The bill's sponsors wrote, "The phrase 'under God' recognizes only the guidance of God in our national affairs." However, that has not dissuaded people from arguing over its inclusion. Per Smithsonian Magazine:
Advocates of religious tolerance point out that the reference to a single deity might not sit well with followers of some established religions. After all, Buddhists don't conceive of God as a single discrete entity, Zoroastrians believe in two deities and Hindus believe in many. Both the Ninth Circuit ruling and a number of Supreme Court decisions acknowledge this. But Jacobsohn predicts that a majority of the justices will hold that government may support religion in general as long as public policy does not pursue an obviously sectarian, specific religious purpose.
In late 2018, the Attorney General of Texas defended a state law requiring students to stand and recite the pledge. A Texas high school student was expelled after refusing to stand for the pledge. Per The Washington Post:
“Requiring the pledge to be recited at the start of every school day has the laudable result of fostering respect for our flag and a patriotic love of our country,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday. Twenty-six other states have similar statutes, Paxton said.
His comment included a not-so-subtle nod to a popular Republican attack on the NFL protests echoed by President Trump — that they disrespect the U.S. flag and, by extension, U.S. troops and veterans.