Update: I pledge allegiance

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Driven by my strong distaste for legislating patriotism. I've written to nearly every NC House member, pleading with them to resist their patriotic pandering with a new law that would require schools to "offer" the Pledge of Allegiance every day. Many have written back, some agreeing, and most disagreeing with my position. Today I heard from Grier Martin:

I ended up voting for this bill. It was a feel good bill, but I can't say I feel too good after the vote. The reasons you served in the armed forces certainly parallel my reasons for serving. What enabled me to support this bill was the clause that schools "shall not compel any person to stand, salute the flag, or recite the Pledge of Allegiance".

I very much appreciate the fact that I got a return message, but the sentiments expressed are discouraging. These sorts of litmus-test bills put elected officials between a rock and a hard place. Don't vote for a bill like this and you're making yourself a target for wingnut accusations of being with the terrorists. Vote for it and you're undercutting the integrity of true patriotism.

It's a sad day when the NC House has nothing better to do than pull publicity stunts like this. I feel sorry for thoughtful legislators who are caught in the crosshairs of the theocrats on the right wing fringe.


UPDATE: I had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Martin this afternoon about the vote and the environment in Raleigh that leads to this kind of bill. He is a good guy, through and through.


That kind of does suck

And it's a shame. I got to meet Grier once, and I was impressed with his honesty, and he seemed like a good guy. I'm hoping that what he didn't say here is that he was playing ball so that something he considers to be more important for his constituents can go through.

Or something.

Poorly written

One part of the bill requires public schools to merely schedule the recitation.
One part of the bill requires recitation in charter schools.
One part of the bill requires recitation in the NC School of Science & Math.

No part of the bill require scheduling or recitation in private schools.

No part of the bill acknowledges that a number of teachers and students are legally resident non-citizens. Recitation of the Pledge by non-citizens is an interesting legal issue. Is it a binding oath or does it become empty rhetoric? Is the meaning for citizens lessened because non-citizens are coerced into reciting it for fear of discrimination?

This is such a non issue tho.

K-5th grades have no clue what America/patriotism/democrat/republican is at that age. Reciting the Pledge makes no difference but showing the kids, hey we live in the USA! The Greatest Place ever! In a childhood mentality its not that bad.

When you get to Middle schools, kids are more pressured to follow others, so there you can get muddy with "peer pressured Patriots". BUt even then all those hormones are just to attract the opposite sex.

And in High Schools? I think by the end of it all kids will want to say it or not, and their opinions will be strenghted regardless of what side their on.

I think it takes away time however from more important means of getting Patriotism to our youth. We need more history/current events/ humanitarian/economic classes and lectures, than a simple song to improve real patriotism to our country.

Be just, and fear not.

Our children need to know that some people fought back, when others collaborated.

I agree somewhat.

But the real path to patriotism lies in having a country worth admiring. Bushco has squandered our moral capital beyond belief. It is up to us to build it back . . . and that will take unrelenting pressure from We the People.

PS Love your sig line.

Silver lining?

It is now law that no person - child or adult - can be forced to say the pledge of allegiance. It will be the parent's responsibility to work this out with the teacher if they are younger. It is our responsibility to teach our children about respectful dissent as they grow up.

Now it is our job to help get the word out that no child can be forced to say the pledge of allegiance and let parent's know there is legal recourse if a school/teacher/principal is uncooperative. It's all in how you sell it. So let's sell it our way.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Speaking to the post; It may

Speaking to the post; It may not have been codified, but this has been law since the 60's via federal court precedent. It was a waste of time and money as far as I'm concerned.

Now it is our job to help get the word out that no child can be forced to say the pledge of allegiance and let parent's know there is legal recourse if a school/teacher/principal is uncooperative.

I think it's a sad state of affairs when our job is this, and not ensuring our schools have all the money they need to give our kids not just a proper education, but the very best education available anywhere in the world.

We are so capable of leading the world on so many different fronts, and we do nothing.

I blame the conservatives for the way they have tanked this country lately, but I can't and won't let liberals off the hook that easy. This country has incredible capability to do nearly anything it wants, from spending $500 billion on poverty and education making this country the first only on the planet with nobody living in poverty and a near 100% literacy rate, to remembering that what shapes a person is largely how they are raised by their parents, and that good manners and ethics start at home, not in Congress. [Note: While the US is considered to have a 99.9% literacy rate, I quote the following: "According to the National Institute of Literacy between 21 and 23 percent of the adult population, or approximately 44 million people scored in Level 1 which means that they "can read a little but not well enough to fill out an application, read a food label, or read a simple story to a child".]

We owned the House for what, 40 years? We've had amazing people like Clinton in the White House for 8 years, and really, what did we do? Has the bar been set so low that the true mark of an excellent Presidency and Congress is whether or not the budget is balanced?

And frankly, I don't think for a minute we would achieve these goals even if todays situation were reversed, and it was an all-Democrat Congress and administration. Things would be better than they are now, but how much? If the Iraq war ended tomorrow, and Democrats were running the show, do you think they would instantly address the most pressing issues we have, such as health care and cheap college-level education like the EU enjoys?

I don't, and I really start to wonder just what our guys would really do when it's put-up-or-shutup time. Would we pass new laws further limiting the executive branches powers? Or pass new lobbying/ethics legislation? Shut down Gitmo?

How does that help the starving drug addict living in skid row, or the kids who graduate highschool and can't spell any better than my five year-old nephew? There are over 7,000 homeless people in that area of L.A. alone. How does Medicare, flag burning, a stronger version of FISA -- how do these help the people who need the help the most?

I'm so sick of people running on agendas. Why can't we have a person in this country that will run on this: "I'm going to sit down with 20 of the smartest people I can find, and have them tell me everything that needs to be fixed in this country; I slave over this list every moment of every day, not giving a single press conference, nor taking a single vacation, until every single thing has been addressed."

I'd like to think that every person born has something in their heart that sends this message to their brain every day, yet somehow, it's just not getting through anymore.

I really like the way you're thinking.

It's up to us to stand for - and behind - elected officials who will do exactly what you're saying. And to make sure they stay elected when the Dark Side comes after them for being too intellectual or too thoughtful. We have a ton of work to do. It is our job.


if the NC House had spent some of its precious time considering how our state economy could respond to the impacts of global climate change in ways that build prosperity and create jobs. Instead it pandered to the Called2Action theocrats who will stop at nothing to get 'under god' into schools, even as the earth their god has given them collapses under the weight of their greed.

When I talked to Grier Martin today, I heard the voice of someone taking the long view, of someone who will one day be in a leadership position to make a difference. I hope that happens.

The sad story

Rob Christensen reports today on this piece of shit legislation.

North Carolina will likely require public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily, thanks to a campaign started by an Apex high school student whose parents immigrated to the United States. The state House on Friday passed a bill requiring daily recitation of the pledge and, when available, a display of the U.S. and North Carolina flags in the classroom. The vote was 106-1.

The Senate unanimously passed it last year. The bill will now go to a House-Senate conference committee to work out the differences.

Julian Quesada, 17, a rising senior at Apex High School, initiated the drive last year because he was troubled that the pledge was rarely recited.

"It's important that students all over the state say the pledge for the moral and cultural self preservation of the country," Quesada said. "The younger generation is suffering from a lack of it."

If Quesada is representative of the "younger generation," I'll tell you what they lack: the ability to think critically. Little Julian would spend his time far more productively working on issues of substance than serving himself up as a tool.

The lone dissenting vote in the House was by Rep. Paul Luebke, a Durham Democrat, who said local school boards already have the discretion to permit the pledge. "I see it as a feel-good and unnecessary bill," he said. "Saying the pledge every day doesn't necessarily make one a better patriot. Good citizenship comes in a number of ways. Saying the pledge once a week might be just fine."

It seems like the crappier our public policy and the more badly behaved our government, the more the Bushbots want to paper over the truth with armchair patriotism.

But the big winner in all this is god. God hasn't had the benefit of mindless recitation in schools for far too long. And now that every public school student will be saying 'under god' once a day, I just know all our troubles will be over.

And North Carolina will look

And North Carolina will look stupid when its shiney new useless law is thrown out on summary judgement.

West Virginia State Board of Education et al. v. Barnette et al.
June 14, 1943.

The United States Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that children could not be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote in his opinion, "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

Note that this was when the pledge was "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States, and the Republic for which it stands- one nation indivisible-with liberty and justice for all." It wasn't until 1954, 62 years after it's inception, that "under God" was added.

Legislators were lobbied by religious leaders from the Knights of Columbus, as well as the Hearst Newspapers and the American Legion, who were "worried that orations used by 'godless communists' sounds similar to the Pledge of Allegiance."

Unless something magically changed and I didn't hear about it, this bill flies in the face of established court precedent, and should be fairly easy to strike down.

...what a waste of time.

But that's just what they want

a court challenge. Then they get to point to Democrats and say..."see, they aren't patriotic. They don't believe in pledging to the flag."

What jerks.

I think half of what the Republicans do is to set up phony legislation to incite a court battle they can use against Democrats.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.