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Keller @ Large: Pledge Fight Grounded In Ignorance

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(File photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(File photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.”

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

That’s it, the pledge of allegiance, a staple of many American classrooms for more than a century.

But for some residents of Brookline, Massachusetts, this simple declaration of patriotism is an unacceptable presence in their children’s lives.

Brookline’s policy calls for the pledge to be recited once a week, and participation is voluntary.

But according to the Globe, even this is too much for one Marty Rosenthal of the group Brookline Pax.

The pressure on kids to recite the pledge, he says, makes his “skin crawl.”

Why?

He spelled out the reasons in a column in the local paper earlier this year with a series of questions, including:•

“What’s ‘allegiance’ to a flag? My country right — or wrong? Is loyalty to “the U.S.A.” to all 50 states, e.g., 45 officially prejudiced against gays marrying? How about kids with no ‘god’? Did our founders’ ‘republic’ envision citizens not paying for electoral campaigns (which are) financed by wealthier people and corporations?”

You get the drift — finding the US to be politically distasteful, this frame of mind concludes the pledge is distasteful as well.

And they’re certainly entitled to that view.

Except, it’s grounded in ignorance.

The original pledge was the work of a Christian socialist, Francis Bellamy, not Dick Cheney.

The words “under God” are believed to trace back to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, in which the great emancipator vowed that “the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom.”

As for the pledge amounting to some kind of right-wing mind control, I think all reasonable people can see that for the foolish hysteria it is.

Kudos to the chair of the Brookline School Committee for refusing to change the town’s policy on the pledge, saying: “We’re recognizing established and in some cases revered practices of the citizenry. There is something to that.”

Yes.

And nothing serious or thoughtful about this knee-jerk attempt to squelch it.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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