Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Pledge of Allegiance

Heh, earlier this week it was flag burning and now it is the Pledge of, "Allegiance". I've been having a minor tussle with the people at In a very good post about the flag burning amendment, Matsu confused the Pledge of Allegiance with which we grew up (with or without the "under God" clause), as being instigated for the aftermath of the Civil War. (S)he wrote:

A pledge was required for all, but aimed at the Red States - those that tried to secede from the Union and the purpose of the pledge was to get the Red States to declare they were part of an indivisible union. Their seats in Congress depended on it. Their right to vote depended on it. The Red States had to renounce their allegiance to the Confederacy and to come back into the Union by forswearing other flags - like the Stars and Bars. They had to give up the idea of slavery. This is the purpose of the pledge. It went,

I pledge allegiance to the flag and the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

As I pointed out in comments that I had a minor quibble with this. Not only is this a misquote of the original Pledge, it is also not the history that I grew up with regarding our Pledge of Allegiance. True, some soldiers and legislators may have been required to give some sort of pledge. However, the Pledge of Allegiance we grew up with was written in 1892, after the Civil War was well over. The Pledge we know today did contain the phrase, "one nation, indivisible" as an acknowledgment of the Civil War, however one should not confuse it as being of the Civil War times. Some history on the creation of the pledge is here, here, and here. (If you don't wish to read the links, basically the Pledge was tied to A) the school flag pole movement and B) the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas. It was written by Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy).

As I noted, this was a "minor quibble". The overall point of Matsu's post was valid and I was just setting the history record straight, so as to not confuse other readers. Matsu would not let it go at that and took issue with my comment. She wrote:

The pledge was formalized then, but its roots go back and language is built upon swearing allegiance and this was demanded by the Union.

cf. "Outlaw Josey Wales."

WTF??!?? She's quoting a fictional book/movie as her source of history on this issue? If that is what posits as legitimate rhetorical discourse, then Matsu should go spend some time in school. Later, Matsu amended her comments with this line:

I stand by my statement in the broad sense of the mentality of the era that could produce such pledges.

Yes, but not THIS pledge, which was my point which was my "minor quibble". Really, I wasn't attacking anyone, but rather setting the historical record straight. Media Girl also entered the discussion by quoting Amendment XIV of the Constitution, Section 3 (look it up). This section states that if, prior to the Civil War a person had held office and pledged to uphold the Constitution, then had committed treason by aiding the Confederacy, said person could not hold office unless 2/3 of both houses of Congress removed "such disability". Basically, if you lied before, then why should we believe you now. In practice, this may have meant taking a pledge or proving your allegiance in some way so that Congress would override such a "disability". However, there is nothing in the amendment that specifically states that nor is it limited to the Civil War nor is there any sort of language that such a Pledge would take.

Hey, folks, c'mon. I don't disagree that some sort of pledge might have been required under some circumstances. However, if you're going to post about history and politics, get the facts checked. And, if as sometimes happens, it's suggested that you're wrong, then don't get defensive and offensive. Check your facts and put together a cogent argument. However, quoting a fictional work of art or an irrelevant historical document do not constitute fact checking.

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