Rant time is going to be a semi-regular series of articles where I, or other writers on the site, rant about things. These may or may not have anything to do with guns.
The older I get, the weirder I think the Pledge of Allegiance is. Even if you toss out the historical weirdness associated with it, like the Bellamy Salute (pictured) or the fact that the guy who originally wrote it was an absolute whackadoodle, the whole thing just feels weird when you really think about it. Of course, you can’t actually disregard its origins, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It seems rather innocuous, but then I start to think about it, and my brain says “wait, what did you just say?” I think it’s because it’s because of what I’m pledging allegiance to, the flag. That’s…just a symbol. A flag itself has no meaning without the ideals or principles of the nation it represents. Yes, I get that the next line is “and to the Republic for which it stands” but for some reason that feels tacked on and meaningless.
It also bothers me that there’s no action required to pledge allegiance other than “I pledge allegiance.” Whoopeedoo! It’s the most shallow form of patriotism possible because it requires nothing. Let’s compare the Pledge to two other pledges, or in this case, oaths. First, the Oath of Allegiance taken by naturalized US citizens:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
I like that much better, because it requires action on the part of the oath taker. It clearly communicates that with citizenship comes duty and responsibility that is not to be shirked or taken lightly. Similarly, the US Armed Forces Oath of Enlistment:
“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Obviously, there is a higher level of duty than just citizenship communicated in the Oath of Enlistment, because you have the lines about obeying orders in there. But the meat, the meat is the same: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
That is the important distinction between the Pledge and something more meaningful. I have no problem with the Pledge in theory, it’s nice little meaningless bit of shallow patriotism. But that’s all it is, because at the end of the day, you’re just saying that “I totally like this symbol of America and I’m not really committing to anything here other than liking it.” The oaths of citizenship and enlistment on the other hand, have you swearing to defend the document, the real, actual document that is the foundation of America itself. Because make no mistake: there is no United States of America without the Constitution.
This concludes rant-time, please direct your hate mail to [email protected]