October 6, 2007

The Pledge of Allegiance

More proof that interesting things rarely happen in Colorado: the lead story in the papers this past week was a group of Boulder high school students demanding that their school discontinue its daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge, these students claim, violates the separation of church and state.

Like the students, I feel uneasy about the Pledge of Allegiance—but for different reasons. The problem, I feel, is not with the “under God” part, but rather the “I pledge allegiance” part.

A pledge is a solemn promise, a vow. Therefore, one should be careful to whom he pledges his allegiance. One’s god seems like a worthy candidate. But the flag of the United States of America?

I have no problem pledging my allegiance to the United States insofar as the United States adheres to God’s law. Of course, when we say the Pledge of Allegiance, we don’t make such delineations; rather, we promise our unconditional loyalty.

I’m reminded of former Denver Nuggets’ star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who back in 1996 refused to stand during the national anthem before games. His reasoning was that the American flag was a “symbol of oppression” and that the U.S. had a long “history of tyranny.” When you look at the history of this country—beginning with the government’s treatment of Native Americans and then blacks and other minorities and then the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then…—well, I can see Abdul-Rauf’s point.

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