Monday, July 10, 2006

I Pledge Allegiance to The Constitution....

...Which means I don't have to pledge allegiance to any flag.

I have been getting more than a little push back on my little letter to the editor of the N&O.

It started with big man Saunders's column. A little over the top, but sound on fundamentals, as Barry usually is.

Then, my letter:

A loyalty oath

There is an old adage in debating that you lose a debate as soon as you compare your opponent to Hitler. But your man Barry Saunders did it (column, July 4), and still won the debate.

The reason is that requiring a pledge, or a loyalty oath, really is at the core of what fascist, nationalistic or totalitarian regimes stand for. Saunders was dead right, so the Hitler comparison is not wrong.

I bet he didn't hear a lot of support for his view. So, let me say this. If there is going to be a patriotic hanging, let my body swing beside his on that hastily constructed, flag-draped gibbet. Requiring the pledge is the opposite of real patriotism, in a nation that values freedom.

Michael Munger
Chair, Department of Political Science, Duke University
Durham


I have been doing some local TV shows, on the strength of this radical view. Strange that this view is so rare, or radical...

Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration, said this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

How can we withold consent if we are required to pledge allegiance? How can government tell us what to think, but still be dependent on our consent? Answers: we can't, and it can't. Say the pledge if you want to. Burn the flag if you want to. The people should not fear their government. The government should fear the people.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

every time I think you can't get more awesome, you prove me wrong, wrong, wrong.

I'll learn my lesson one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Folks should especially fear this government.

Anonymous said...

True, but citizenship in a democracy is much more than keeping those in government accountable. Citizens enjoy both rights AND duties. Rights in terms of protection from the state, and duties in terms of serving the state. Is it really a contradiction to say that a citizen must pledge allegiance to the nation-state, and be vigilent in keeping the government accountable?

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