Currently the courts are determining whether our current Pledge Of Allegiance should be revised. The heart of the matter is whether or not the phrase “one nation under God” should be included. Those favoring traditional values want to keep what has become a controversial phrase while others either approve of removing the phrase or are apathetic.
But what is being missed is whether the current pledge, with our without the reference to God, is obsolete. In examining whether or not our pledge of allegiance is outdated, we need to decide if the Pledge Of Allegiance reflects where we are as a nation and where we want to be as people.
Where are we as a nation? I would summarize our current state with the flag I march with at protests. This flag resembles the “Stars and Stripes” except that it replaces the stars with corporate logos. It is called the Corporate Flag and I carry it because it is the flag of my government. From our defense budget and the war to our government’s response to the flooding of New Orleans to our government’s solution to health care for seniors, our government’s first concern has been the needs and requests of corporations. In essence, our government hopes that its benevolence to the corporate world trickles down to the general population to a sufficient degree so that the people remain complacent and disengaged.
In the meantime, the oil corporations hope to join the members of the military industrial complex as being the primary beneficiaries of the War on Iraq. Their success depends on the US forcing the benchmark requiring Iraq to open its oil reserves to control by foreign corporations. It was corporations that immediately followed Katrina in hoping to financially benefit from the tragedy in New Orleans. And the pharmaceutical companies are benefitting from the Medicare law that prohibits the government from negotiating for lower prices from these same companies.
And when our government is not searching for new ways to enrich the corporate world, it goes the extra mile to cover the backsides of the same corporations. This protection can be seen in the Bush Administration’s attempts to protect telecommunication companies that cooperate with the NSA in domestic surveillance from legal action. This protection could be seen in Paul Bremer’s CPA’s ordinance that made U.S. mercenaries exempt from legal action in Iraq regardless of their actions. This protection can be seen in our government’s impotency at making either the oil industry accountable for the prices it charges as it continues to make record profits or the health insurance companies responsible for denying or delaying services that people need.
Our current state of the union where corporations are counted as persons that are more equal than people could be summed up with the new pledge of allegiance below:
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the corporate states of America.
And to the conglomeration,
for which it stands,
one nation, under many CEOs,
with liberty and privileges for some.
The question now becomes whether or not our current Pledge Of Allegiance commits us to what we want to be. In other words, how important is it to be loyal to a country that favors the rich with its domestic policies and violently breaks international law with its foreign policies?
In the past, repeating the Pledge Of Allegiance was considered an honorable action because it showed a commitment to a cause greater than oneself—that is the freedom of our neighbors and fellow citizens. But when loyalty to our country enables the oppression and abuse of others, particularly the poor, is reciting the Pledge Of Allegiance still honorable? For example, is it principled to salute the same flag that flies over a war based on false premises that not only kills up to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis but enables our government to write the laws of another country?
In my fundamentalist church, our minister, having warned us that operatives from both political parties are skilled at manipulation, told us that we are Christians first and Americans second. But how should those who are not Christian consider themselves? Should they count themselves as Americans first by default?
The Declaration of Independence answers this question. It clearly states that all men, now taken as all people, are created equal. If we take this declaration seriously, we should conclude that we are people before we are Americans. And thus our first allegiance should be to justice for people regardless of their nationality or ethnicity. So when our government’s policies do violence to such justice, regardless of the citizenship of the victims, a commitment to justice should trump our desire to appear patriotic. Thus a principled commitment to a cause greater to ourselves is not seen in reciting the current Pledge Of Allegiance to the American flag, but a pledge of allegiance to a cause that is greater than our country. Such a pledge, though it is religiously based, can be seen at this link: