Friday, November 20, 2009

Pledging Allegiance

So I read in Catherine Sanderson's blog that it's illegal for Massachusetts schoolteachers not to lead their classes in the Pledge of Allegiance.

It's not WAY illegal-- the punishment is a fine "not more than $5." (makes me wonder: who sets the fine? Could Amherst decide to fine Pledge-negligent teachers a penny?)

Most of my elementary schools (I'd attended six by the time I was in sixth grade) started every morning with the Pledge, and I remember starting to be bothered by it when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I was born in Australia, was an Australian citizen living in America as a permanent resident.

So I stopped saying the words.

I wonder: do public schoolteachers in Massachusetts have to be US citizens?

I'm a US citizen now, but I'm still not gung-ho on the Pledge of Allegiance. Expecting kids to say words they're too young to understand year after year seems like a blatant attempt at brainwashing. The "Under God" part bothers me a little (it was added during the McCarthy era to help battle the Godless Communists). It kinda bothers me that it was written by a Socialist, and it amuses me that it used to be performed with a Heil-Hitler salute.

But in the grand scheme of things I don't think it matters much. It's about as relevant as prayer in schools. Robin and Will have two more weeks of school here in Australia, which means two more all-school assemblies where everybody stands up and sings "Advance Australia Fair." They don't have a Pledge here, but there's still plenty of Australian Patriotism. They'll also have two more religion classes in school (everybody gets to choose to go to Catholic, Protestant, or None of The Above every Wednesday), but I haven't noticed any more church attendance here than in the States.

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