To the Editor:
A recent letter in Voices criticized someone who wouldn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Nowhere in our laws or Constitution is reciting the pledge mandatory. In truth, the pledge has always had a dodgy history; abstaining from the pledge might be the more thoughtful course of action, especially in these anti-immigration times.
A 2017 article in The Washington Post outlines the history of the pledge. Francis Bellamy, a Baptist cleric, wrote it in 1892 for the Youth’s Companion magazine. “In just 23 lean words, Bellamy attempted to capture the ‘underlying spirit’ of the American Republic,” the Post wrote.
So far, so good. But then the Post added:
“Through the pledge, Bellamy sought to define ‘true Americanism’ against the rising tide of southern and eastern European immigrants ‘pouring over our country in the early 20th century from ‘races which we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard.’”
Although Bellamy conceded that ‘the United States has always been a nation of immigrants,’ he argued that ‘incoming waves of immigrants... are coming from countries whose institutions are entirely at variance with our own.’
Decrying the character and ‘quality’ of these recent newcomers, Bellamy lamented that ‘we cannot be the dumping ground of Europe and bloom like a flower garden.’ To him, ‘every dull-witted and fanatical immigrant’ granted citizenship threatened the American republic.’”
There are many ways to show our loyalty and love of country. But recite the Pledge of Allegiance? No thanks. I’ll take a knee instead.