In the 1960s, we argued whether it was legal for citizens to burn their draft cards. In the 1990s, we argued that there “oughta be a law” against burning the American flag.
Today, we’re going to argue whether students should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of their school day. That’s the premise of a bill filed by an Apache Junction Representative that will be debated next month when lawmakers reconvene for the second gathering of the 54th session of the Arizona Legislature.
Arguing against the Pledge of Allegiance is a bit like rejecting your mother’s apple pie, wearing underwear that sports the U.S. flag, or choosing nachos over hot dogs at a baseball game.
It’s un-American, the patriots tell us.
Never mind that the pledge was written in 1892 by a socialist minister or that its author, Francis Bellamy, intended the script to serve as something that would be used by all nations. It wasn’t until 1923 that the words “ … the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” were added. President Eisenhower added “ … under God,” in 1954, which completed the 31-word pledge we recite today.
This isn’t about history, it’s about patriotism, or passionate nationalism. It’s also not about anything of significance in furthering the education of Arizona students or finding solutions to important issues in the state.
When lawmakers return to work next month, they will spend their time debating whether it’s right or wrong for students to recite the pledge. Don’t expect the outcome to improve Arizona’s overall education standing – among the lowest in the nation.
Don’t expect lawmakers to spend their time on finding more funding to lower classroom ratios or add school counselors or help local districts pay for needed capital improvements.
In the minds of those serving at the Capitol, a strong statement about patriotism, especially in an election year, matters more than the actual benefit, if any, of requiring our kids to recite the pledge.
Like so much of what taxpayers endure from the State Legislature, this is another example of lawmakers wasting their time on an issue of no consequence that feeds a political agenda intended to inspire voters and assure a constituency of the lawmakers’ patriotism.
It’s a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.