Tuesday, May 10, 2005
By Steven L. Taylor

In doing some research, I came across a commentary on the “Pledge” case in which the writer, who was on Newdow’s side of things (the fellow who brought the suit) stated:

But no school child orally recites “under God” without knowing what is being said or without being affected by it.

Setting aside any argument about the Pledge itself, or the phrase “under God”, I would argue that the author (Marci Hamilton) is patently incorrect here. I would argue that that most school children don’t think one whit about the meaning of the Pledge, and not just the “under Godâ€? phrase. Indeed, I suspect a substantial percentage of them think that the phrase “one nation, indivisible” reads “one nation, invisible” and even those who know the proper word don’t know what it means.

I suspect, in fact (and I am not trying to be funny here) that when a lot of kids think of a pledge, they think of furniture polish. I am dead certain that they don’t know what a pledge actually is (or, for that matter, what allegiance is).

Let’s consider: most kids start learning the Pledge of Allegiance in preschool. By the time their vocabularies are at the point where some of them might actually understand many of the words (third grade?) the recitation is just a practice in rhythmic rote recitation as to hardly be a reflection on the words.

I don’t think I gave the meaning of the words much consideration until probably High School, and I have been a political junkie since late elementary school.

I just don’t think that most kids give the words a second thought. This is partially an indictment of education in general, but it mostly the results of rote recitation of just about anything.

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6 Responses to “I Wouldn’t Be So Sure…”

  1. kappiy Says:

    The Pledge of Allegiance is an idiotic anachronism. It’s original purpose was one of youth indoctrination. Written by Socialist preacher, Francis Bellamy, the pledge was sponsored and promulgated by an organization that a top level Bush Administration cabinet member would later term “terrorist.”

    The whole idea of the forced recitation of slogans is Leninist at its core. It is quite remarkable that schools waste their time with such frivolity.

  2. Steven Taylor Says:

    I am not a big fan of such recitations.

  3. Neo Says:

    This pledge seems to be the whole width and breath of many people’s knowledge of their government, even when they don’t know what the words really mean.
    Now isn’t that scary ?

  4. Isaac B2 Says:

    Just because kids don’t listen to themselves pledge doesn’t mean it’s OK for the school to have them saying “God” — I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but why not just kill those two words, added so very recently, and give us the original secular wording?

  5. B. Minich, PI Says:

    First off, the 1950s were hardly “very recently” as pertains to the pledge, which is 100 years old max.

    Also, I never thought of it as “invisible”, but as “invincible”. You know, like we can’t be beat. I asked fairly early what that word meant, though – if I was going to be saying it every day, I wanted to know what it meant.

    That being said, I avoided saying the pledge for most of my school career, because I was homeschooled.

  6. Jan Says:

    My oldest son (age 16) was actually graded on whether he said the pledge or not in one of his class. The class was Spanish class and they were required to say the pledge in proper Spanish each day. If they did not recite it everyday, and correctly, their grade was lowered as a result.

    I don’t remember when it was, but we were taught what each line of the pledge meant and how to punctuate it properly. Not “one nation (pause) under God” but “one nation under God”.

    The pledge is obviously very popular in the deep South.

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