Isolated Incident?

Coturnix talks about an incident in which his son was forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance, including the words “under God,” largely because of a new law in North Carolina that permits public schools to apply any sort of pressure short of straight coerction to get students to pledge allegiance to the flag.

So, I told my son that he has several choices: go along and recite it (with ot without the salute); recite the original version by skipping over the 1954 “under God” insertion; or remain silent (while either standing up, sitting down or exiting the classroom). I told him that the Constitution gives him the choice and that nobody could take that choice away from him. It is the “under God” clause that bothers him the most and he wanted to make sure that he had the right to omit it on the days he decides to say the Pledge, as well as right to not say the Pledge at all on days in which he is not in the mood to do so.

On Monday, after I picked him up, he was really distressed. He chose not to say the Pledge. He told the teacher that he is an atheist and does not believe in that stuff and does not wish to say a pledge that includes “under God” in it.

She threatened to made him call his parents if he does not shape up and he immediately went to the classroom phone and started dialing, but she stopped him. At the time, I was still at home and she would have gotten an earful from me, as you can imagine.

Then he told her that his Dad told him that he has the right to remain silent. In the end, after much questioning and threatening, both in front of his friends and out in the hall, she FORCED him to say the Pledge, every word of it. She was giving him mean looks for the rest of the first two periods.

Yesterday morning I went to school and talked with the vice-principal. She was appalled that such a thing happened in her school, apologized profusely, and reassured me that she will make sure that such a thing does not happen again. This made me happy – the system DOES work.

Coturnix is right to say the system works, but not for the reason he thinks it does. When it was no longer legal under US law to discriminate against black people, the racists of the South came up with segregation, which beautifully circumvented the 14th Amendment. Presumably, any black person who could through sheer litigation and pressure gain the right to vote, or be permitted to resile from a contract he was made to sign without reading, could conclude that after all, the system did work.

Since it’s unconstitutional for schools to make pledging allegiance mandatory, conservatives have to find a way around that obstacle. Peer pressure alone apparently isn’t enough for them, so they make it explicit. Think of it as veiled racism.

10 Responses to Isolated Incident?

  1. […] Absolutely disgusting. Can you imagine how that child felt?? Alon Levy blogs about this situation, wonders if it’s an Isolated Incident. The title of his entry, I assume, is sarcastic, because I think that we all know that this is no isolated incident. […]

  2. […] Alon Levy has a good essay on forcing children to say the Pledge of Allegiance. As he pointed out, although students aren’t FORCED to say the pledge, including the invocation of God, they are often coerced into doing so through peer pressure. […]

  3. Nolan says:

    The question is where do we draw the line between coercion and patriotism. See to see what I mean.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    Well, any form of patriotism based on coercion is, well, coercion. It doesn’t matter what the Founders may or may not have wanted; what they wanted was an Anglo-Saxon nation, as evidenced in Franklin’s writings on the subject. If anyone pledged “One white nation,” even spontaneously, there would be an outcry; and yet “one nation under God” is not only acceptable but also nationally imposed.

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