The Pledge Of Allegiance Is Bullshit

The Pledge Of Allegiance Is Bullshit

Is there a reason why children are required to say the Pledge of Allegiance before school starts?

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My first memory of saying the Pledge of Allegiance in a classroom setting is on the third anniversary of 9/11. I remember my teachers telling us it was important that we memorize this pledge, as it was written to honor our country, our soldiers, and the people who have died to protect us. As a kindergartener, this seemed simple enough.

We only recited it on important days, like 9/11 and Flag Day. It wasn't until middle school that I can recall being required to say the Pledge every morning before class was allowed to start.

When I realized that we had to say the pledge every day, I was confused. I understood that it was important to respect soldiers, who were willingly laying down their lives to keep us safe (at least, that's what my teachers were telling me). However, I did not understand how taking 30 seconds away from class to recite something in monotone voice benefited the soldiers at all.

So, why do we do it?

The Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist minister named Francis Bellamy in 1892. Originally, it read:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"

He had hoped it would be recited by anyone, in any country, to pay respects to their flag and their Republic. It was published in The Youth's Companion, a children's magazine published in Boston, Massachusetts. Alongside the pledge was set of instructions on how to stand and what gestures to make when reciting it.

Before the Flag Code was created, children were required to give the flag a military salute, and, as they said "to my Flag," were supposed to extend their right hand "gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side."

Yes, like the Nazi salute. In fact, some scholars believe this is where Hitler got the idea for the salute. After WWII, Congress changed the Flag Code so we stand with our hand over our hearts while reciting the pledge.

In 1923, the pledge was tweaked from its original state, so it read:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"

The addition of "the United State of America" created a more unified Pledge of Allegiance. At this time, many families from Europe and Asia were coming to the United States, hoping to build a better life for themselves.

This made many people nervous because they were unsure if these new, foreign people were loyal to the United States or if they would abandon the country if a war started. What better way to make sure their young, impressionable children grew to love America than to drill a pledge of allegiance to the country into their head from the moment they started their education?

Soon, children in almost every grade, at almost every school, were reciting the pledge, making the nation seem more put together, more unified, and most importantly, more loyal to their country.

Hitler loved this idea. He saw what the United States was doing, how they were making their young children stand, face the flag, salute it, and chant some lines about how they pledged their lives to their country.

When he began the Hitler Youth programs, he implemented the same brainwashing tactics. He had them recite their own Pledge of Allegiance at school, during sporting events, and at political events. (Youth)

When the Hitler Youth did not want to recite the pledge of allegiance, they were punished by their superiors, forced to run laps or do extra chores or sit in isolation.

Hitler understood how important it was to drill into impressionable children that they must be loyal to the flag, they must be loyal to the country, they must be loyal to him. If they weren't, they would not be willing to fight and die for the cause.

On February 17th, a 6th grader was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for refusing to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

He stated that the pledge, the national anthem, and the flag were racist symbols and that he did not want to stand for something to be believed to be wrong. The teacher, who was substituting, asked the 11-year-old why he didn't "go live somewhere else" if America was so bad.

In 2017, a senior at Windfern High School in Houston, Texas was expelled for refusing to say the pledge.

These are not the only cases of students being punished by teachers or law enforcement for refusing to say the pledge, and they will not be the last.

The Constitution clearly states, under the First Amendment, that any U.S. citizen has the right to freedom of speech - or freedom not to speak at all. In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to force anyone to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

So, why are students still getting in trouble for sitting down for what they believe in? Why do teachers and law enforcement feel the need to punish kids for not wanting to say a 30-second pledge? Why do schools still feel the need to open with the Pledge of Allegiance every morning?

For the same reason Hitler enforced these rules; we're being brainwashed.

Military recruitment is at an all-time low. Our country is becoming more and more divided every day, and the generational gap regarding human rights is becoming more apparent. We are programmed to believe that there is true "liberty and justice for all," but time and time again, our law enforcement and court systems have proven this statement wrong.

Many people are starting to believe that the only way to be a "real American" is by supporting the President in whatever he says or pushing for the right to own deadly weapons or by being a straight white man. These are not things that make us Americans.

So, what does make us "American"? Is it being born on this soil? Having generations of family who have lived here? Respecting our troops, honoring our flag?

When you look at our history, you'll see mass genocide led by the white man. You'll see fighting to reduce taxes on tea. You'll see millions of slaves and only a handful of slave owners. You'll see that racism being implemented into politics that are still in effect today. You'll see prohibition and organized crime and inventions that allowed us to fly or to speak to our loved ones million of miles away.

You'll see a Great Depression and a great war that brought us out of it. You'll see a march on the capital and a brick thrown by a black, transgender sex worker breaking through a glass window. You'll see a moon landing and organized sit-ins and violence. You'll see people fighting back. You'll see minorities saying "enough is enough."

Isn't that what makes us American? Isn't that what makes us human? Seeing something wicked and saying "this needs to end"? Why are we so afraid of change when our country's history is full of it?

Refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance won't bring back the black men who were killed without reason. It won't change who our president is. It won't stop gun violence or make people change their mind about the wall. But, it will start a conversation. It will let people know you think the system we have been forced to comply to is wrong. It might just make people think.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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As An Original Northeasterner, I Grew To Love The South And You Can, Too

Where the tea is sweet, and the accents are sweeter.

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I'm not Southern-born. I'll come right out and say it. I was born in Connecticut and moved to Atlanta when I was 9 years old. I didn't know a single thing about the South, so I came without any expectations. When I got here, I remember that the very first thing I saw was a Waffle House. I thought it was so rare to see whatever a waffle house was but little did I know there was a WaHo (how southerners refer to Waffle House) every two miles down the street.

There is such a thing as "southern hospitality," and it's very pleasant for a newcomer to see. Southerners are raised with such a refreshing sense of politeness, and their accents are beautifully unique. It brings a smile to my face when I hear a southern accent because it's such a strong accent and one of my favorites. They answer your questions with "Yes, ma'am" or "No, ma'am" in the most respectful tone. I remember feeling so grown and empowered just because I got called ma'am. Southerners' vocabulary and phrases really have its ways of integrating into your own vernacular.

Before I came to Georgia, I never really said words like "Y'all" and "Fixin' to" but it's definitely in much of what I say now. I can tell when I go back up north to visit family that some of what I say may sound a little off because the dialect is very different. I find no shame in it, though, and neither should any southerner.

The weather in the South isn't so bad, in my opinion. Sure, there is very high humidity, but after living here for 10+ years, you learn how to deal with it. However, there's nothing like the summer thunderstorms. I love stormy, rainy weather and it rains quite often in the south, so when my birthday in July rolls around, I look forward to seeing that rain. It's the most peaceful weather to me and inspires me to write even more.

I could go on and on about the amazing fried foods here or the iconic yet insane Atlanta traffic, but those aren't what make me love the South. The people of the south are so different from up north but in the best ways. Everyone is so expressive and creative, as well as their own unique self. Southerners aren't the shaming kinds of people, but instead the kind who embrace who you are from the start. There's a fierce loyalty and a strong sense of appreciation that is just unmatched by any other place. No matter where I go, I always find comfort in knowing that I'll be coming back to this place I'm proud to call home.

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