Tag: America flag

A Pledge of Allegiance is a Communist Dream

Glenn Verasco | Thailand

The first semester of the Thai school year is a few weeks from completion. Unlike the US, the Thai school calendar is divided into two college-like semesters. The first begins in mid-May and runs through September. After an October recess, the second term starts around November 1st, and the school year culminates in early March.

This has been one of my least favorite aspects of my seven years teaching English in Thailand. As it takes place in the middle of the first semester, I have not had the pleasure of coming home for an American summer since residing abroad. The same goes for Thanksgiving and all but one Christmas. This is beginning to weigh on me, and plans for my wife and I to transition home for good are in the works.

Another aspect of teaching in Thailand that I dislike (though I mostly love what I do) is my students’ morning ritual. When the 2nd or 3rd attendance bell rings (depending on the school), the entire student body stands in rows (either in the halls or an assembly area), sings the national anthem, chants a few Buddhist prayers, and sings or repeats a jingle or hymn unique to each school.

Each step of this routine is undertaken mindlessly and unwillingly by the average student. Social pressures and faculty commands guarantee that they stand in line without protest, and the Buddhist prayers are spoken in Sanskrit that few people, let alone children, even understand. And ever since the Royal Thai Army’s 2014 coup d’etat, I’ve noticed an even greater dip in enthusiasm.

As the US school year is set to be underway, I am reminded of my own mindless chanting as an American schoolboy. Every morning, I put my hand over my heart and pledged allegiance without ever thinking about what pledging or allegiance even mean. I was not persuaded to stand through reason or understanding, but instead through the same social pressures and faculty commands that my students in Thailand are subject to. I do not recall any instances of a fellow student declining to stand, but I know I would have hated that student for doing so. I embodied the social pressure I was subjected to.

Now 12 years removed from high school and 7 years removed from university, I have had ample time to begin my education. And as a now somewhat-educated critical thinker, I can look back at the words I was all but forced to say throughout my youth and see them for what they truly are: BS.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America

A free country like the United States should be above archaic symbols like flags, monuments, and other images of state worship, so pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth (especially one whose design has been altered several times throughout US history) is a backwards idea from the start.

Admittedly, I often get teary eyed when I see the stars and stripes waving in the wind as our national anthem plays before a baseball game. But I want that feeling for myself, not as a part of an obligatory chant among an unthinking cult.

If anything, we should pledge allegiance to the Constitution or, better yet, to the individual human rights and constraints on government it espouses. And we should do it when we feel like it, not force the youth do it in a supposedly educational setting.

And to the republic for which it stands

As the Constitution lays out a framework for a republic (and certainly not a democracy), I am least butthurt over this line.

Pledging allegiance to the republic itself, however, contradicts the character of a free country. If our so-called republic veers off course by, say, plunging its people $21 trillion in debt, establishing a destructive interventionist empire abroad, founding an alphabet soup of unauthorized federal agencies, and imprisoning 2 million of its own people often for victimless crimes, should we continue to commit ourselves to its agenda?

Again, pledging allegiance to our Constitution or our rights would be a more unconditionally honorable promise. The state should commit itself to us, not the other way around.

One nation

The United States of America is not meant to be one nation as much as it is meant to be 50 states. The United States in singular form represents what was intended to be a small legislative body that manages the few, constitutionally-enumerated responsibilities the 50 states are unfit to manage independently.

In plural form, the United States are Alabama, Wyoming, and everything in between. The states are supposed to have tremendous authority as they are far more aware of what is best for their inhabitants than a faraway field of castles in Washington DC. Instead of recognizing one nation, we should recognize the 50 sovereign states.

Under God

God is a subjectively manifested concept that each of us has the liberty to deal with in our own way. I was once an Atheist who scoffed at religion, and I had that right. I am now far more open-minded to the existence of God and have gained some respect for religious discipline and spirituality. But that’s up to me.

Instead of under God, we should exclaim that our nation is subservient to each of our natural, individual human rights: one nation, under us.

Indivisible

This is just plain wrong. Although the process is not easy, states are free to leave the union if they so choose. We should remind ourselves that unification is a choice (which, if you ask me, continues to be a wise decision despite the gross encroachments made by the feds), not that secession is impossible.

Instead of pledging allegiance to enslavement of the states by an out of control federal government, we should pledge allegiance to our free will to remain in the union or leave in accordance with what suits our preferences.

With Liberty and Justice for all

I certainly love the sentiment here, but it is simply not true. Compared to other nations in modern times and throughout history, the liberty and justice that exists in America is arguably on the more preferable end of the spectrum. But this is only in a relative sense and often a result of technological advancements, not good government.

Wholesale liberty and justice do not exist in America, and we should stop saying that they do. The more you say an unaccomplished goal is accomplished, the more you believe it is accomplished, and less energy you put into accomplishing it. A better alternative would be to say that we intend to establish liberty and justice for all or that liberty and justice are a work in progress.

Though it certainly fails to flow off the tongue, here is my revised Pledge of Allegiance for the 2018-2019 American school year:

I pledge allegiance,

To the Constitution,

Of the United States of America,

And to the inalienable rights of myself and my fellow man,

For which it stands,

50 Sovereign States,

Under their people,

Striving for Liberty and Justice for all.

Feel free to comment with a catchier version, and have a great school year!

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Statist Rhetoric: “If You Don’t Like It, Why Don’t You Leave?”

By Andrew Lepore | United States

Libertarians often advocate a wide range of policies, from limiting intervention overseas to the abolition of certain government programs. In many cases, opponents simply reply, “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you just leave?” If you haven’t triggered enough cognitive dissonance in a statist to blurt out that line, you’re probably not trying hard enough. Statists often resort to this appeal when a real argument does not exist. This phrase is the statist’s last line of defense when they have exhausted all else.

The Statist Logical Fallacy

This “argument” is in fact not an argument at all. it is neither moral nor utilitarian. It, in fact, is one of the worst things to say in a debate. Essentially, this line says that nobody should resist oppression. It implies that people should not try to overturn unjust laws, and instead should simply run away from the mob majority. A free society does not allow the mob majority to have such control in the first place, and this rhetoric brings us further away from a free society.

The fact of morality is that aggression is immoral. It simply does not matter what majority decided it was okay. It likewise does not matter what group has a monopoly of power in that area. No imaginary borders, no majority, no social contract, can make what is immoral, moral. Libertarians just want to live their lives free of coercion. Statists, on the other hand, seek to control. They are the ones who dictate to others how to live, who take part of the fruits of others’ labor and spend it how they please. Yet, they have the audacity to say that if someone doesn’t like it, they must leave. With the power-hungry iron fist of the state, they seek to rule the lives of fellow men. So, how are libertarians in the wrong for wanting to live and let live?

Refutations to Self-Exile

If confronted with such an absurd response by a likely nationalist, flag waving, Trump praising statist, who probably quotes the founding fathers when it suits them, point out that by their own principle the founders should have just left the colonies. Apparently, the founders were just crybabies for demanding freedom and fighting for it. They should have just left. it appears logical consistency is of little importance to the statist.

If confronted by a collectivist, when pointing out the evils of the state extorting half of your income, point out a quite similar situation that occurred in our history. By their own principle, abolitionists were just crybabies who should have left America if they didn’t like the enslavement of Africans. After all, the majority had said it was okay to own slaves. By this logic, the abolitionists were wrong even for advocating the end of slavery. Next, watch them backpedal.

This principle can be applied to any example of tyranny throughout history. If the Jews in Nazi Germany didn’t like what was going on, why didn’t they just leave? If those living in the Soviet Union didn’t want to starve, I guess they should have just left. Neither the state nor anybody else has the right to rule over others’ lives.

A Contradiction of Logic and Morality

Thus, it appears that the argument is a clear contradiction of logic and morality. Rather than simply walking away, fight for positive change in society. Disagreeing with an aspect of such a society does not mean that the society as a whole is not worth living in.

Tom Woods excellently states the fact that without a doubt, the moral burden in this case lies only on the state.

“Why should I leave? Why is the moral burden on me when in fact you’re the one with a gun to my head. Your the one who wishes to expropriate me then use the proceeds to fund drone strikes. It would seem to me that a healthy moral reckoning would have it that you would have to demonstrate your right to do that before I would have to demonstrate my right to sit here unmolested” – Tom E. Woods.


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The Ever-Changing Meaning of Patriotism

By Willie Johnson | USA

If a nation is defined by the patriotism of its citizens, the United States is in dire straits. Today’s political climate has changed the very definition of patriotism, giving the term new meaning as time progresses and modern controversies stack up. Anti-authority sentiment and fierce dedication to home soil take hold in the Revolutionary Era, but today, criticism of the government and respect for military service has come to dominate American ideas about patriotism. Current attitudes are, for the most part, a healthy byproduct of patriotism, but pride for one’s country should spring from the early idea of love and enthusiasm for home.

The classic idea of patriotism first came about at the birth of America itself, but the kind of blind loyalty in many forms that it advocated remained a constant aspect of American culture until very recently. Religion has always played an important part, too, with many Americans holding their dedication to God above all earthly leaders while still maintaining respect for the government. While pride for home and country is the physical focus of patriotism, God is the spiritual focus. Worldly problems pale in comparison to unquestioning acceptance of religion, so it is clear why so many patriots cling to it tightly. The blind dedication also manifests itself in those who choose to cling to their principles unto death as a way of supporting their nation. In this case, being a patriot is living by the beliefs and values that America was founded on, allowing it to dictate the way life itself is lived. Although this is only one definition of the word, it has been influential on American culture by shaping the morals of generations of Americans. None of this is to say that patriotism should mean unconditional allegiance to authority, however, as dissidents are patriots under the classic definition too. While the founding fathers stuck close to their faith and principles, it is obvious that they were all dissidents of the highest order—they went against the authority of the British Empire, after all. There will always be some form of malevolent authority to oppose, and if done correctly, such action ultimately benefits the nation. Being patriotic has been characterized by these traits for most of American history, but unique new issues have changed and even called many of these beliefs into question.

Modern Patriotism has distinguished itself by adapting to current issues such as race relations, political divides, and military affairs. Today, being patriotic is primarily about the military and veterans in the eyes of many Americans; because service in the armed forces is widely considered as one of the greatest sacrifices to the country a person can make, it is held up by many as the paramount of patriotism. To those who define patriotism by military service, disrespecting the United States is disrespecting its veterans—an issue that has recently come to a head in the wake of the controversy surrounding the act of kneeling for the national anthem. For some, however, a patriot is someone who actively goes against their government to stand up for the personal freedoms of citizens. Although such behavior can be a good thing, extreme anti-government activity often does more harm to the nation than good. In this instance, patriotism has been skewed to fit the anarchist leanings of certain individuals who claim to support it. Even worse is the purely superficial view of patriotism that many Americans hold; the “patriotism gap” that seems to exist between our two major political parties is, for the most part, simply a contest of showiness. Being a patriot should not be about who waves the bigger flag, but rather who is willing to uphold the values of the nation. Million-dollar jet flyovers at football games and other examples of extravagance are good for hyping up a crowd, but should not be the embodiment of patriotism. Modern times may have cheapened the meaning of that it is to be a patriot, but in all examples, certain values shine through that gives hope for the future.

While the modern focus on superficial values like military service or contempt for government divides the nation, its original, unfettered form remains to hold all Americans together. For me, patriotism means dedication to values (whether they be religious or moral) and a healthy lust for liberty, free from the flaws of destructiveness and vanity. Attitudes are bound to be changed by crucial events and the passage of time, but the past does not have to be forgotten.

Virginia’s Censorship Laws May Be More Dangerous Than We Think

By Emily Merrell | VIRGINIA

In the state of Virginia, the code of law suggests that citizens use no profanity in public. Many places have anti-profanity signs and the like. Letting out an f-bomb in Virginia is a misdemeanor! Although it is a very old law, many people are still charged and can be charged a $250 dollar fine at the minimum.

A state lawmaker from Richmond Virginia is currently attempting to eliminate this law. The conservative Michael Webert is a farmer that believes in the right to free speech and understands that things happen that can trigger people to let out a dirty word. “When I cursed, my mother told me not to and handed me a bar of soap,” he said, “you shouldn’t be hit with a Class 4 misdemeanor.”

Clearly, any logical thinker will agree with Webert. Business owners can kick people out or ask them not to swear. However, lawmakers that voted against this law could be accused of “promoting profanity.” There’s another law in Virginia that violates free speech and that is the “flag burning” law. This law is also enforced despite the supreme court passing that flag burning is not a crime.

Virginia is violating people’s free speech. However, there’s more than just politics to these laws. Emily Post was an American author that wrote about etiquette for a formal society. The Emily Post Institute that is still run by her family still believes in keeping a lid on the censorship of profanity in order to keep a formal and polite society.

A researcher of profanity from Columbia University has answered his thoughts on these rules. It aims to “enforce politeness, and that is not something the law is equipped to do,” said Jesse Sheidlower, author of ‘The F-Word’.

While this law is often challenged and is clearly wrong, a recent video has shown it being enforced. Police took a reporter from a media outlet straight to the ground following an argument. “If you curse again you will go to jail.” an officer says. The reporter replied “F— this” and was charged with disorderly conduct.

Is it possible that we may be overlooking this law? We definitely are. The state of Virginia is violating our human rights to self-ownership and free speech and if they keep this up more states could follow along. Especially, within our current social justice society, censorship is not a fictional idea in our dystopian novels anymore. With our current political climate certain words, media, and ideas may be banned. And the enforcement of these Virginia Law shows that this could happen any day now.