|Warning: I'm about to go full 'MURICA. International readers beware.|
This article is a bit of a break from what I usually have to offer. While it is definitely pertinent to the LGBT community (of America at least), it also concerns the rest of my country and its relationship with the world at large.
Ladies, gentlemen, variations thereof, and none of the above, the United States of America is a very unique place. We take a perverse pride in doing things differently from the rest of the world, and even when our way is stupid, inefficient, or ignorant, goddammit it's the right way because it's the American way.
|Case in point|
One of the things that surprises, confuses, or amuses a lot of people not familiar with America is the Pledge of Allegiance. In every state except five, school days must begin with a pledge to the American flag. The Pledge of Allegiance goes like this:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, one and indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
All students must rise and face the flag during the Pledge, and it must be recited with the right hand over one's heart. The Supreme Court has ruled that no student can be compelled to recite the Pledge. However, if you're like yours truly and you're in a state like Texas, refusal to say the pledge comes with severe social consequences.
I'd like to get one thing straight (lol) now. The recital of the Pledge is an intensely personal decision, and I respect people whose convictions lead them either way on this subject. I'm not judging the people who recite the Pledge as ignorant sheeple (which many do, and fuck them very much). For those of us who think about these things, there's a very careful emotional and logical calculus that goes into our decision to say or not say the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a list of reasons that I, myself, cannot say it.
Now many people believe that not saying the Pledge means that you're a commie defector that hates the troops and America. This isn't the case, at least not for me. I couldn't have more respect for those whose courage inspires them to lay down their lives. I'd like to think that I'd be brave enough to do so should the situation arise. But I don't see any reference to the troops in the Pledge and I have no reason to think that the Pledge is even tangentially related to them.
Now for the part that I take issue with. I'll start with the issue most pertinent to me and to most of you. The simple fact of the matter that in 2013 America does not in fact guarantee "liberty and justice for all". LGBT Americans are still second-class citizens who face workplace, housing, hiring, educational, AND marital discrimination. LGBT children are often forced into what can only be described as indoctrination and torture camps that are unregulated and operate outside the law.
|Here's an impressive looking chart that backs up what I say.|
And that's just LGBT Americans! Racism isn't a thing of the past. Black Americans are 10 to 15 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than white Americans. And when it comes to the victims of crimes...ooooh Lordy. Some of you have heard of Trayvon Martin, a black kid shot to death by a crazed Neighborhood Watchman, George Zimmerman, for the suspicious activity of having a bag of Skittles in his pocket and daring to run away when some strange man with a shotgun started chasing him. The Sanford Police Department picked up Zimmerman but didn't arrest him for his wildly inappropriate and irresponsible shooting until the community forced them too. This wasn't the first time. Travares McGill was a 16 year old boy shot by two security guards (one an ex-Sanford police officer), who claimed self-defense when he tried to run them over in his car. Ballistics tests show that McGill was shot in the back. Self-defense. In the back. Right. The case was dismissed before trial. And I'm sure a lot of our international readers have heard of Christopher Dorner, the ex-LAPD cop with a vendetta and a lot of guns. (I'm told that European media referred to Dorner as "Chocolate Rambo". I'm going to need confirmation, because that shit's hilarious, yo.) While the dude was fucknuts insane and motivated more by anger than justice, there was a bit of legitimacy in his grievances.
You see a lot of my personal objection rests on those three tiny words. I find the rest of the pledge problematic as well.
Why am I pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth? I understand that it's a symbol of something important, but I feel uncomfortable pledging allegiance to people, let alone inanimate objects.
What does pledging allegiance to the fallible association of human beings that make up this Republic entail? Does it mean "my country right or wrong"? Does it mean complicity in the killing of people outside the United States with drones? Does it mean that I am okay with the killing of Anwar al-Awalki, even though he was an American citizen and should have had a trial? Does it mean agreeing with the clusterfuck that has been American policy in the Middle East, including but not limited to the coup that deposed popularly elected Prime Minister Mossaddegh and instated the vastly unpopular Shah, thus leading to the Islamic Revolution and the current wacko that is President Ahmadinejad? (Note: Again, I'm not saying that the our troops are Gestapo baby-murderers. The error begins way, way above their heads)
What does it mean when a nation devoted to free speech and the protection of dissent makes its citizens pledge allegiance to it? This country was founded on the protection of all speech except that directly advocating violence or treason. In a way, isn't refusing to pledge allegiance to America because you are guaranteed that freedom a tribute to what America is all about?
Why does a nation that shows preferential treatment to no religion claim to be one nation under God? And don't give me any of that "founded on Judeo-Christian values" bullshit. President John Adams would like a word with you. I will advocate for the free expression of any religion but what does it mean when a pledging allegiance to a secular nation means acknowledging a God some citizens may or may not believe in?
Why are we making children pledge allegiance to a country that they know little about and principles that they are just beginning to understand? Children are kinda stupid and we very rightly don't trust their opinions on much else.
|There's no fucking monster now go to sleep you little shit.|
So...yeah. That's why I don't say the Pledge of Allegiance. I promise to go back to the happy gay stuff next week. I hope I've given you all something to think about and argue about.
Because in the end, that's what America is all about.