By Jon Keller

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.”


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.”


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.

Comments (86)
  1. tsal says:

    The founding fathers were adamant about the separation of church and state. Many were freemasons and as such did not mention either God or politics inside a Masonic temple. Of late there have been two incidents at nationally covered events where the words “Under God” were omitted. One was a golf tournament and I can’t remember the second. Both times they said it was in error. You can believe that or not.

    That all being said and as far as the specific wording, I don’t think kids are really aware of them until a parent makes it an issue. I believe kids are more aware of a sense of pride and a feeling of love for their country or more so now it’s just a way they begin their day. My kids all said that there has always been an option to either recite the Pledge or to remain silent and there has never been pressure for those who choose the latter. And in the town I live in, if thee isn’t pressure here, there isn’t pressure anywhere.

    Ten years ago on that horrific day that we will remember this weekend, you could not find a flag anywhere. Everyone – no matter what age – turned to our nation’s symbol. Stores were sold out of flags. They flew in yards and on our cars. They were everywhere. We rallied around the sight of our red, white and blue. It was a rebirth of what I remember as a child of a skin tingling pride in what our nation stands for. The words do not matter but the feeling does.

    I find it remarkably distasteful that on the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in our history that Rosenthal has chosen to press this issue. I suggest his kids sit down and shut up and if he doesn’t feel a pride in our country that he take his family and move to one where he does feel pride. But do not now or ever take away my right to feel that pride and the right of my kids right to honor a symbol of our freedom and our country.

    1. Robert Rosenblatt says:

      Very well said. Thank you for speaking up against this disrespectful and intolerant movement.

      Robert Rosenblatt

  2. Big Buck says:

    While serving in S. Korea in the 1980’s the guys and I used to say the pledge of allegiance at revielle. We saw the fanaticism going on in the north, and were grateful for our lives back home in the US. We all knew where we were going when our tour of duty was up – back to the greatest nation on earth. We were reminded daily of the sacrifices though, passing by countless Korean War battlefields, where thousands of Americans died. The pledge was a warming ritual for our home sick hearts. We were all grateful for our lives in America. Maybe we should send this guy over there for a tour of duty? I bet his perspective changes on the pledge very quickly – he will be humbled.

  3. donald kemp says:

    If that idiot doesnt like the Pledge of Allegance, he should get his disgusting self out of our great country.

  4. tsal says:

    Big Buck – thank you for serving our country and for your perspective. I hope Rosenthal reads what you have written because it brought tears to my eyes.

  5. Please says:

    Liberals will ruin this country. All the traditions this country has long held are being slowly slipped away by this Liberal fanaticism and political correctness. What will be left of this country will not be to anyone’s liking, I can guarantee it. You watch.

    1. tsal says:

      @Please – do not make this political. It is not. If it were political then the words “Under God” would have to be removed because it absolutely goes against what our founding fathers intended.

      Bellamy who wrote the Pledge was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist. Did you know the original salute to the flag was with arms extended in front of the body, hands out straight and palms down – sound another salute you know???

      I know as many on the right as on the left that do not approve of the pledge. It is individual and not political.

  6. True American says:

    This makes me angry and sad at the same time. My entire life I had to give the pledge of allegiance. This person who “cringes” for his child when the pledge is asked to be recited never served this country. I have bled and lost friends defending his rights to be a complete tool. If he and those others don’t like the pledge well then pack your bags and move out of this country.

    1. Stephen Stein says:

      But I thought he had the right to be a “complete tool” – indeed, you have defended that right. Why, then, should he move?

      1. True American says:

        If he does not believe in the Pledge which has been part of our country for over 100 years he should go and live in a world with no freedoms and I bet his tun would change FAST.

  7. Stephen Stein says:

    Small nit – the insertion of the words “under God” was originated in the late 1940s by Louis Bowman and officially incorporated in 1954. Bowman did cite Lincoln’s inclusion of “under God” in the Gettysburg address, but the Pledge wasn’t even created until the 1890s, so Lincoln himself had nothing to do with it.

  8. Stephen Stein says:

    As a first-grader, I was required to say the Lord’s Prayer as well as the Pledge. I did not know the Lord’s Prayer, and for that I was subjected to much ridicule, including my first experience with anti-semitism. Not a pleasant experience, but I’ve found it a useful one, and part of growing up.

    Brookline’s optional pledge seems to me to be a “teachable moment”, even for first-graders. Coersion, bullying, and standing up to bullies are all part of the American experience, and part of growing up. Understanding the Pledge of Allegiance ought to be taught early, so when one says it one can understand what one is saying and why, instead of just mouthing the words. This might also lead to a more thoughtful understanding of why one might choose NOT to say it.

    One might think this is beyond first-graders, but I think it’s not.

  9. LSS says:

    What’s worse, a small group of parents in Brookline with no real issues to worry about who are looking for attention or the press for paying attention and providing a stage. This kind of behavior is par for the course in Brookline;.this is not a new issue, the petition has been around for a while so why is WBZ giving so much press coverage to it this week of all weeks. What is the real agenda here?

    That being said we can’t repeat or remind ourselves and our children too often of the importance of “liberty and justice for all”. It is easy to forget this very important phrase which should be the guiding principle of how we run this country. It should not be said just once a week, it can’t be repeated enough. We should probably add the golden rule “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you” (be nice to all pepple all the time).

    1. tsal says:

      I’m not sure whether to laugh or shake my head. I am not sure you can criticize the entire population of Brookline because of the actions of a few and recite the Golden Rule in the same breath :)) I am saying this tongue in cheek

      1. Annoyed says:

        And I am laughing at you Tsal since you couldn’t read LSS’ comment properly and then criticized LSS for it. LSS wrote “a small group of parents in Brookline” not the entire community!

      2. tsal says:

        Annoyed – and I quote “This kind of behavior is par for the course in Brookline:

  10. tsal says:

    Stephen you brought up something I have been wondering about since I saw this on the news. Why did we seem to know the meaning of the Pledge as children (I’m talking in the 50s and 60s) and children do not understand its meaning now? I don’t remember being taught in school. Somewhere our pride has been lost. Even after September 11 we forgot too quickly. It seems to be the same thing I keep talking about. We have lost the ability to look at the big picture and instead focus on something small and unimportant.

    Stephen I’m sorry that you had that experience. I remember that type of ridicule from fellow classmates toward some who didn’t know the Lord’s Prayer and it was very upsetting to me from the time I was very young. I just realized that it seems to have been a life experience on both sides since it shaped a lot of how I feel as an adult.

  11. steve says:

    I agree with tsal, I don’t think kids fully grasp what it is that they are saying, only that all are saying it and it brings a certain feeling of pride. Yet again we find someone that doesn’t agree with a majority, and instead of agreeing to disagree and simply not say the pledge of allegience, he’d rather change things so NOBODY says it. Disgusting.

    1. Lynn says:

      You could not have said this any better!

    2. The Truth says:

      Kids don’t know what they’re saying when they recite the pledge because commie teachers don’t teach them the true history of America.

  12. mary says:

    i agree, if he doesn’t want to do as americans do then leave. this made me so angry when i heard this on the radio. doesn’t he rosanthal whatever his name is realise he is the one subjecting his child to being different(not that there is anything wrong with being different) but as the saying goes when is rome do as the romans do or this case the americans do. he will raise a biggot, this is the country he chooses to live in so this is what is done. i myself was not born in this country, i came here to make a living and pay my taxes ! and i am proud to be an american citzen and raise my kids as that. this kind of news is reprehensible and should be stopped, because the likes of this group will not stop here.

    1. Stephen Stein says:

      All this talk about wanting this guy to “leave” strikes me as totally un-American. We have the right to disagree here – it’s what this country is all about. The residents of Brookline also have the right to tell the guy “no” (and I think they should).

      But tell him to leave? Get serious!

      1. tsal says:

        Stephen I understand what you mean when you say he has the right to believe as he does and I agree 100% with that. What bothers me is that he feels because the current political climate is distasteful that we should stop honoring our flag – our heritage. However, I’m not exactly clear on whether those were his words or Jon’s.

        Even when politically distasteful I cannot bring myself not to honor what we stand for and it bothers me that he would turn his back on one of the greatest symbols of our freedom when we have so many men and woman at war now or who have like Big Buck been at war.

        When I said he should find a country he has pride in, I dd not in any way intend to imply that he should leave because he doesn’t agree. I meant exactly what I said – that he should find a country where he does feel pride. I have the sense that’s what others mean also.

    2. tsal says:

      Mary I do not agree with your reason to leave and perhaps you have made me see that I was also incorrect in saying he should finid a country he has pride in. I didn’t see your comment until I posted the one to Stephen below. Democracy means you do not have to do what everyone else does. However, this country has a horrible history of trying to force others to do what it thinks is the norm. I absolutely support this person’s right to have his children choose not to recite the pledge and it is not up to you or to me to tell him what to choose for his children. I however want my children and grandchildren to recite the Pledge and object to his attempt to take that away. I also, as I said, do not like his use of dislike for the country as a reason.. His timing stinks but I will defend always his right to believe what he wants to believe.

  13. Chip says:

    Find it interesting that you have folks complaining about the Pledge of Allegiance, I wonder when was the last time they spoke up about the quality of anything else in the town. They do not like their children being “bullied” into reciting the pledge but it’s ok for them to “bully” other children that have no objections to reciting it into not reciting it………. interesting.
    Only semi-related to this you have all the people sounding off about what a horrible country we have become……….but how many do you see leaving? Or the movie actors/actresses that sound off that if so and so is elected they are leaving the country…….did they really….doubt it. They certainly have no problem with performing in films that they know will be shown here and support their sometimes outrageous lifestyles.

  14. Brenda H says:

    Disagreeing with an American tradition and hating our country are not mutually exclusive. If they hated our country, my guess is they WOULD leave. Though their viewpoint is different from yours, I believe they feel strongly that their protests serve a greater good and adhere to their definition of freedom. You don’t have to agree. These people have the right to dislike, protest (peacefully) and want for things to be different just as you have the right to want them to remain the same. I agree that as long as kids have the freedom to opt out of saying the pledge of allegiance, it should remain in schools. And I respect the opinions of those who think it shouldn’t. Why can’t it be that simple? Asking them to leave our country because they disagree with something you believe is anti-American and perhaps it is you who needs to review our country’s edicts. You have the right to believe whatever you want in America – and to say so. So does every other American.

    1. Brenda H says:

      Incidentally, if you do feel strongly about having your children recite it, and it ceases to be recited in schools, you do have the option to recite it with your children at home. It is not as though not having it in school takes it out of our lives completely. I wasn’t moved by it until I was an adult, when the weight of it’s meaning was really clear to me yet I recited it daily at school as a child. I recited it because I had to and because if you didn’t you were singled out. We had a kid who sat it out for revligious reasons in 8th grade and he was a “wierdo” – I didn’t even know why – it had no meaning to me so not saying it and being called a wierd because if it made no sense to me – i just didn’t want to be an outcast, so I recited it – but it meant nothing to me really, just words. If my parents had me do it every day, and talked to me about it, I might have felt more comfortable asking why and wondering what it meant which would have been a much greater lesson.

    2. tsal says:

      Brenda – I agree with nearly all you say. I do not agree that anyone has the right to force a school to stop saying the Pledge, however. That is not their right because in doing so it removed the right of those who want to recite the Pledge. The Brookline schools – I believe all schools – have the option of anyone who does not wish to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to simply sit it out. That is where it should end.

      1. Brenda H says:

        Tsal, fundamentally I agree with you that it should be the right of the school to keep it. However, if someone disagrees, they do have the right to protest and to attempt to change it. While I hope they are unsuccessful, almost any progress we have made socially in America was accomplished by protest. Black integration, black vote, female vote, abortion, gay marriage, etc. They have all fought to force things to change. I am not saying I agree this should happen, I am just saying i respect their desire to change things by whatever means they feel will work (peacefully) and within the confines of the law. And the rights of those who WANT to say the pledge are not compromised at all – it can still be said anywhere else they want to say it. I don’t think anyone is suggesting it never be said.

  15. Cinque says:

    Perhaps it would be a wonderful idea for our politicians to recite the Pledge and not the kids. What good has reciting the Pledge of Allegiance done in the last 50 years? The pol’s have done it growing up and most are greedy, corrupt and liars. Obviously, their God is green and they truly believe that they are above any true love of country.

  16. Joe says:

    What rational thought process exists within Mr Rosenthals brain that allows him to believe this is a good and just cause? The short answer is that a rational rationale doesn’t exist. This isn’t directly about the pledge of allegiance or “the pressure on kids to recite it”.

    This is just a small part of a much larger ideological campaign against the core values that America was built on. Our founding fathers and the constitution are their main target. They use the parts of the constitution that support their agenda and allow them the right to try and destroy the parts that don’t.

    This is the same group of aclu lawyers that argue each Christmas against lights and decades old nativity scenes on town commons. That argue against any sign of religion in public buildings. Even if that religious reference is a important historical artifact that has stood for decades.

    Yet these are the same people who defend the religious freedom of Muslims to build a mosque a stones throw from ground zero. See, their religious hatred doesn’t exist for all religions. No, just any form of the catholic religion.

    These are the same people who support a persons right to burn an American flag but not to pledge allegiance to it. The same people who support harmful and negative free speech against our country yet fight against ones right to praise it. The same people who view smokers and the obese as degenerate criminals who should be alienated and banned from society yet treat alcoholics and drug addicts with sympathy and respectful compassion.

    The pledge of allegiance is just one part of this groups destructive agenda and hatred for the core values for which America was built on. The following is a very blunt factual opinion. However, it is factual, truthful and not intended to be offensive. I apologize if your offended but sometimes the truth hurts. It is what it is.

    The most ironic part of their agenda is the religious aspects. Let’s be honest here folks. The majority of the people within this group are Jewish. Jews who have been persecuted and murdered for centuries. Jews, Catholics and America were the target on 911 yet Jews were the main target. Israel has forever been targeted and attacked and is surrounded by people who hate and want to literally destroy them.

    However, America and Catholics have stood beside Israel and defended their right to exist. America has and always will be their strongest ally. Over the years, our relationship has had its ups and downs but never wavered.

    Catholics and America are also the main target of these groups. The same religion and country that have always supported you. Now groups like this, made up mostly of Jews, want to change and destroy the traditions of the country and religion that has been your biggest ally and supporter. You try and eliminate age old catholic and Christmas traditions. But supporting the right of the religion who hates Jews too build a mosque a stones throw from the spot where the extremists of that religion killed hundreds of Jews. And now you want too eliminate the tradition of pledging allegiance to the country that has always stood beside you.

    Mr. Rosenthal,

    As a Jew, how could you consciously try and disgrace the country that has defended the right of your homeland too exist? You said the following
    “The pressure on kids to recite the pledge, he says, makes his “skin crawl.” Pressure sir? Really? Why don’t you ask the people in Iraq who went against saddam hussein what pressure is. In America it is your right not to participate in reciting the pledge. In Iraq, it was the right of the government to severely beat, mutilate or kill you if you so much as thought negative against it. Maybe you should ask Daniel Pearl what pressure is. Now that sir should make your skin crawl.

    Your blind ideological ignorance may be in need of a wake up call. If you hate this country so much sir then next time your country needs help maybe you should ask Iran or Syria for assistance. I’m sure they would show Israel the same respect and support that America always has.

    Just do me one favor. Let me know how that works out for you!

    In the meantime, I’m going to start reading this to my 3 year old daughter tonight to make sure she turns out nothing like your pressured children. To make sure she understands that reciting this pledge is not a burden but in fact it is an honor!

    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.

    1. Linda says:

      Joe, you brought tears to my eyes and a great sense of pride to my heart, thankyou.

    2. Nosgood4me says:

      Joe well done Sir….

      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.

  17. Jeff Kingston says:

    Here Here Mr Keller! It is about time that people living here in this country stopped the ridiculous “It offends me or my beliefs, therefore no one should be allowed to, or be expected to join in with” whatever their personal hot button is.

    Time to grow up folks, we are all different in many ways, but when the service being enjoyed, ie: Public School, and it is paid for by the taxpayers, and at last check over 83% of respondents to the ‘BZ poll say it should be done, sucki it up and shut your mouth.

  18. massman says:

    Brenda H – great post
    The “Pledge” Mr. Kellher quoted at the beginning of the article, is not Mr. Bellamy’s original Pledge. The following, is the original:
    “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
    There was no mention of “god”. The words “under god” were added in 1954 in response to fears of communism. Mr. Bellamy’s daughter objected to the change. I would love to read about the “Lincoln influence” which Mr. Kellher insinuates encouraged the addition of those words. . If this issue were over those two words, I would strongly agree with Mr. Rosenthal.
    The issue at hand is not the wording, but actually whether or not the option to recite it is there. Personally, I think having a six year old kid recite the PofA, is a bit foolish.My kids both do it, and it hasn’t, and most likely will not, affect their patriotism, one way or another. I am for the option of reciting the pledge left available for those who want to participate. What is so great about this country, is that we have the right to question, and even dispute, these issues. Telling people they should leave the country because they disagree, is really what is un-American.

    1. Joe says:

      Massman ,

      You say if this was about those two words “under god” then you would agree with Mr. Rosenthal. I’m assuming that means any mention of god in or on anything related with government or our country offends you. I understand and that is your right too feel that way. I respect your opinion and I would like to help you to not feel offended anymore.

      Just get together all those government issued green things in your pocket, safe or bank accounts that say “IN GOD WE TRUST” on them. These must be very offensive. Then take each and every last one, wrap them up with money bands and place each band in a briefcase. Then give me a call and I will gladly stop by and take them off your hands. Once they are gone you should no longer feel offended.

      I hope this helps and give me a call anytime of the day when its ready to pick up. Thanks!

      1. massman says:

        That’s actually not too bad an idea. I’m not really sure what causes more evil in our country, and the world, religion or money. Don’t you find it ironic that the word God, would be printed on money? Are you familiar with Matthew 19:24, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” ? You’ll probably just turn that money over to help the poor, since you’re such an avid defender of religion.

    2. tsal says:

      Massman – my four year old grandson doesn’t understand the exact words but he fully understands the meaning. He is on his feet and holding his hand over his heart the second he sees a flag – whether on TV or in public. He also will immediately salute a serviceman or woman.

      And as I said previously, I don’t believe most are saying he should leave because he disagrees. I had the sense he was implying there is nothing to be patriotic about in this country and that bothers me on all levels. If you are not happy someplace, why stay? Or if you do stay, be part of the solution.

      1. Ron says:

        Well said tsal,

  19. Stephen Stein says:

    Don’t ascribe to bigotry that which is adequately explained by the incompetence of the webmaster.

    I find “the system” eats at least 30% of my comments here. On some days, much more.

    1. Stephen Stein says:

      Just to clarify, this comment was a reply to another comment that has since been deleted, leaving this as a non-sequitor.

      1. Jon Keller says:

        Not your first, my friend!

      2. tsal says:


        Jon, Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this topic. It really was a wonderful discussion. I tried to post this last night but it never posted.

      3. Stephen Stein says:

        And not my last, I have no doubt. LOL.

  20. wendy says:

    My Grandfather Fought in WW2, was wounded and recieved the Purple Heart for his service. He passed away last November at the age of 90, in the last few months of his life his memory wasn’t so good anymore, but he would still tear up at the playing of God Bless America, or the pledge being recited. The Greatest generation now has the difficulty of mind robbing diseases such as alzheimers to deal with, and yet many with the Disease can still recite The pledge of allegiance maybe it’s because they recited it EVERYDAY in their youth, strange thing about alzheimers disease, that many folks with it can easily remember things from their childhood but forget things that happened just a few days prior. The Greastest Generation fought for our country and Hmmm sound like what some of our vets are doing today over in afganistan- FIGHTING FOR OUR FREEDOM! It’s true, childred at 6 years old probably don’t understand the words their reciting, but there are many words they don’t understand at that age, that doesn’t stop us from teaching them! do they understand arithmatic when they first begin to learn it ? No, but we still teach it

    1. Joe says:


      I agree completely, well said! Your very lucky to have had a WWII vet as grandfather. A man from what truly is the greatest generation. That generation can teach their kids and grandkids things they could never learn from a textbook! You must be very proud, he sounds like an amazing and great man. I’m sorry for your loss and thank you for his service.

  21. Linda says:

    Why is this guy the principal of a school ? What is he teaching these children if not good values. If he is so offended by the Pledge of Alligence then it seems to me he hasn’t any good traits or values to teach. Maybe this is why there are so many punk-a$$ kids running around assaulting, robbing and killing people.

    1. tsal says:

      I don’t believe he’s the principal of the school. He’s the co-chair of the group called Brookline Pax.

  22. tsal says:

    Massman and Brenda I understand what you are both saying. What bothers me is that Mr. Rosenthal wants it his way and his way only. A democracy doesn’t work that way. Massman, I know you don’t like the right holding its collective breath so it’s all their way. Because Mr. Rosenthal doesn’t want his children to recite the Pledge in school, he wants it stopped for all. He has at his disposal a very reasonable solution – a compromise. Simply let his kids choose not to participate. No one is forcing them to recite it but he is forcing those who want to recite it in school to stop. I totally accept his right to voice his opinion; however, I do not accept his right to force others to do what he wants for his kids.

    On another level I understand the pushback if in fact it is about the words “under God.” What Joe doesn’t seem to understand is that this is exactly what Christians (and Joe there are many who are Christian who are not catholic) have done throughout the history of our country. They have forced others to accept their religious holidays and traditions for centuries to the exclusion of all other religious beliefs and traditions.

    If we go strictly by what I believe our founding fathers foresaw, we need to remove the words “Under God”. And why not – they were not there to begin with.

    I am simply not clear on whether this is because of those two words. My initial sense was that it is because Mr. Rosenthal is not happy with the political climate and if that’s the problem I don’t really understand what not reciting the Pledge would accomplish.

    1. massman says:

      tsal – I don’t agree with Mr. Rosenthal. If he was trying to have the words “under God” removed, I would agree with him. But trying to remove an optional weekly recital, I think is a bit much. Although I do find his list of questions intriguing. But as an American, I can respect that this man is using his rights and freedoms, for something he believes in. Seems as though many here don’t feel the same way. My real problem was with the way this article implied the words “under God” were influenced by Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. There is much more important historical information about the addition of these words, which was left out of the article.

      1. tsal says:

        Hi Massman – I found the list intriguing as well and until now no one has mentioned his list of issues. I suspect I would enjoy speaking with Mr. Rosenthal because other than this one issue everything he lists are things that really bother me about the direction our country as well. Actually, some of the comments here have made me rethink my initial comment to some extent.

  23. wendy says:

    We live in a Democracy, as such In a perfect democracy Mr.Rosenthal would be out voted, but unfortunately men such as Mr.Rosenthal try to use civil liberties as a guise for his own misguided agenda. I believe in the Constitution, I believe that be should have their rights, Such as the rright to free speech, But I also believe in Instilling patriotism in our children, strong Values that will only serve them well throughout life …

  24. Brenda H says:

    Tsal, I don’t think he is trying to force the others to do anything at all. He is simply saying, do what you want on your own time, but don’t subject my child to it. I do not understand what any American could find offensive about the Pledge of Allegiance, but that is not the issue. He is arguing that since this is something (arguably controversial) that can still be done privately or in another venue, why should it be done in school. He is not stopping kids from saying the Plegde of Allegiance to themselves during a moment of silence or out at recess or in their home. They are not saying it can’t be said…just not in school. I don’t want this to be a debate about the offensiveness of the Pledge. I don’t understand that. But, playing devils advocate, what if it is offensive to a family of a child in that school. What the school is doing is putting those kids in a position to feel isolated/different by refusing to say it. When my dad was little and they did lice checks, they had the kids put their head on the table while the school nurse checked. Then everyone looked up and knew who had lice because they were taken out of the class. Kids refusing will be scrutinized and it is not easy for kids to protest. As adults we have the benefit of age and wisdom and at least some strength to speak against our peers. But a 7th grader does not. Why can’t the compromise be that kids can say it to themselves in a moment of silence. Again, just playing devil’s advocate here. Why is it so important to have it in school? Why is this the hot button? Noone complains it isn’t done at Red Sox games or before a play on broadway or at a concert. Why is it so important to have it at school? Why this venue? Why not allow people to feel what they want about it and not put pressure on kids to make a decision that will be less about their beliefs and more about their comfort level in sitting it out. Peer pressure is difficult enough without Johnny going home to his daddy and saying “Daddy, why does Suzie not say the pledge of allegiance?” and the parent saying “because he is un-American.” (let’s be honest – this will happen especially if people feel this strongly about it). Now Johnny goes back to school and well…you get the point. If parents feel SO strongly that it should be recited, why NOT recite it at home and leave the school to teaching it’s meaning as part of American history and let every kid decide what it means to them based on their understanding, upbringing, family values, etc.

    1. Brenda H says:

      Added note and the reason for my position: many, many people have said on this and other blogs that people offended by the Pledge of Allegiance are unAmerican and should go home – these people have kids and are teaching them this. If this is the general feeling then putting kids in the postion of NOT saying it in an organized setting is in fact putting them in a very awkward and difficult situation when their focus should be education. I am trying to see this from two sides….and a third…the KIDS side. If you take it out of the school, and the burden is on parents, you remove this burden from the kids.

      1. tsal says:

        Another very good point. I agree that because you refuse to say the pledge you should not ever be considered unAmerican. However, if you say you do not want to say the pledge because you do not respect this country, I’m inclined to think that is a different story altogether. I have little respect for our politicians and the way they are destroying what so many have worked hard to build. But that does not for a minute diminish my respect for this country or the fact that I feel blessed to have been born here.

        Perhaps I am wrong on that. It’s the one point I made at the start that I am not happy about because I didn’t intend for it to ever mean refusing to recite the Pledge meant you should not live here.

    2. tsal says:

      hahahahahaha – Brenda I am smiling from ear to ear – you are VERY good at expressing your point. And I love it when someone plays devils advocate. I started out with a very strong opinion (not unusual for me) and the more comments I read, the more I began to second guess myself. I am enjoying this discussion and the opportunity to see different views, and some are having an impact – yours in particular along with massman’s and stephens – both of whom I respect a great deal.

      I’m guessing I may be closer to your dad’s age than yours since I remember those lice checks and they were humiliating. I also remember the Christmas concerts in school where everyone had to recite The Night Before Christmas or sing Silent Night. I grew up in Belmont which has a large Jewish population and many of my friends were confused by so much of it. It broke my heart and I knew something was wrong but was too young to know what. I am not convinced this is the same thing. We may not all be one religion and we may not all have head lice but we all are Americans.

      I am also not totally convinced (but you are doing a good job:) that Mr. Rosenthal’s reasoning is good. He says the Pledge has no educational value and that if a six year old doesn’t want to recite the Pledge then he/she is uncomfortable. If a six year old doesn’t want to recite the Pledge I would suspect it’s because his/her parents have certainly influenced the child negatively with regard to its meaning. There is something missing in our country and I think it’s a sense of pride. I feel as if we are removing more and more patriotic discussion from our schools and our lives and can’t help wonder if, in part, this is creating the overall lack of patriotism in our country.

      Should we not have to stand for the National Anthem? Should we toss out every single patriotic song we have because I’m not sure there is one that doesn’t mention God? I don’t know where it ends and the thought of where it might end scares me.

      My mind keeps returning to Big Buck’s comment and Wendy’s with regard to her grandfather. Both returned home to cheers and thanks. I don’t feel our servicemen and women receive that same level of respect and gratitude. I don’t think it is too much to ask to have our children learn the importance of our flag and understand that it means home to those who are giving everything they have for our freedom.

      And on that same note, what about the child who has a parent or relative in Iraq or Afghanistan and he or she is subjected to a discussion of whether honoring our flag is important? I have a lot more concern for that child than I do for the ones whose parents have chosen to explain the Pledge in a way that makes their child uncomfortable.

      I honestly hear everything you say and I agree but on an emotional level I am having a lot of trouble understanding the reasoning for having to sy the Pledge of Allegiance behind closed doors.

      1. brenda h says:

        In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that my boyfriend just returned, only two weeks ago, from a year long tour in Iraq (his 3rd) and that I loath the day we forget what he and others before him have fought so hard to protect. Two of those things being freedom of religion AND freedom of speech which seem to be a bit at odds here today. I think women, blacks, gay americans, etc. are very grateful that we live in a land where change can happen and that people initiate change. It starts with one voice. Some of those voices are misguided and even wrong, but we can’t say you can have an opinion but only say it outloud or lobby for it when it agrees with the majority (or tradition). Some of our greatest strides would not have happened with that kind of thinking. My issue in this post wasn’t with the merits, it was with the folks who said that he shouldn’t have an opinion here in America. I do NOT think taking the pledge out of the school will solve any of Mr. Rosenthals issues, and I do not want that to happen – at all. But, I respect his right to want it and to address it as he sees fit. I wanted to argue the merits of the case (if you will). I love a good debate and I also love seeing things from someone else’s point of view. That said, I want to go on record saying that I completely disagree with him. I get a tear in my eye at the National Anthem and the pledge of allegiance and bawled my eyes when I saw my boyfriend and his fellow soldiers step off that bus marching carrying our flag and the flag of my state having proudly and heroically served and I was PROUD to be an American. I think it is a slippery slope when we start widdling away at what our country stood for and trying to “EQUALIZE” us as a nation is not the answer…..if we shed one tradition or take pot shots at what our founding fathers meant, I always wonder, “what’s next?”. I really just didn’t like the idea that folks were telling Mr. Rosenthal to leave or suggesting he were unAmerican. He is just as American as they are. Mr Rosenthal is asserting his rights as an American, but I, for sure, hope he is not granted any leway here. But, I am proud we are in a country that allows him to try.

  25. Ron says:

    Who said God is a Christian? I don’t see any description either on our money
    or in the pledge that is religion specific. If you don’t believe in any God don’t say the words. But I should be as entitled to my belief’s as anyone else

  26. wendy says:

    Brendra, you have made some very strong points, I think reciting the pledge in schools is such a strong tradition that goes back to the patriots who fought in the american revolution who banded TOGETHER to defend america from british rule, I know you asked, why not at other public events- I think simply it is a way to instill patriotism in children when their young in a community setting where they would be taught (hopefully) in schools what the pledge means. Many Countries also promote Patriotism but do so by forcing children to join the military when they come of age to fight and die. In American we now have a choice to join the military. I think it is Important for children to say the pledge at school, to learn our History, to instill patroitism – OR WHO WILL EVER WANT TO DEFEND OUR COUNTRY FROM ENEMIES FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC???

    1. Brenda H says:

      Wendy – I want it to stay in schools. I personally do and I hope Mr. Rosenthal does not get his way. But I respect his right to disagree with me and the nation. That is what the flag stands for and the pledge of allegiance. If you have allegiance to America, you believe in it’s freedoms. One of those is freedom of speech.

  27. wendy says:

    it is so ironic to me that this debate is taking place where our country was born the events that took place in boston leading up to the American Revolution, it’s a whole new revolution taking place now- over words that children say in school that aren’t bad or evil, it seems to me that there are far more important issues in school for kids to worry about, like getting shot in the hall, getting a GOOD education, abusive parents, drugs, Pregnancy, Bullies ECT. Instead we are in a heated debate over the pledge of alligence. I really wish Mr.Rosenthal would have picked a more important issue, for all the attention he’s getting for this he could have done something GREAT and really made a difference in our school system

  28. FireGuyFrank says:

    Most people mistake the Establishment Clause in the US Constitution as separating church and state. It PREVENTS Congress from ESTABLISHING an OFFICIAL RELIGION within the USA. That’s all. There is no prohibition of mentioning God.

    In fact, the Founding Fathers were well aware of the importance of faith.

    It seems Mr. Rosenthal would rather we not have an allegiance to this Nation at all. In which case, I trust Mr. Rosenthal would not care one way or the other if this Nation survives as is or not. Perhaps Mr. Rosenthal would not wish to fight to defend this Nation. Let it be taken over by any force.

    Of course, that could be radical Islamists who would impose their religion on everyone.

    Just sayin’.

    1. tsal says:

      Frank – the founding fathers were in many cases diests. Some didn’t believe in God. And as I said in my original remark, many were Freemasons. I don’t know if you are familiar with Freemasons but there is no discussion of God or religion or politics in the Masonic Temple. No one is mistaking the founding fathers intent when they say they wanted church and state separate – that is exactly what they wanted in all aspects of our young country.

      As has been very eloquently said on this blog, what the founding fathers held dear was a persons right to state his or her opinion. That – and not religion – is what American meant to them. That is what Mr Rosenthal is doing.

      1. FireGuyFrank says:

        To be a member of the Freemasons, one must believe in God; which is why many members are Protestant and even Jewish.

  29. wendy says:

    Brenda, Ha! you got me LOL You make a Great Devil’s advocate! let me guess Lawyer? Law Student? Decendant of John Adams? I too absolutely believe in freedom of speech, I repect the people who post on this site that can debate this issue intelligently, without making personal attacks, negativity,or anti-semetic remarks.I still think Rosenthal is WRONG. Anyway, God bless you and your boyfriend, I am greatful for his service

    1. Brenda H says:

      Ha! Maybe in a past life! I’m a proposal writer and manage a proposal department, but if money were no object, I would go to law school. I love debating law.

  30. KathyD says:

    Call me radical, but I think it’s healthy to expose kids to different ideas. And, really, Mr. Brookline, what part of “voluntary” are you not getting?

  31. Jay says:

    Just have to say that this is one of the most well-debated and articulate comment threads I’ve ever seen. All of you have given me much to think about and reflect upon. I’m impressed that this wasn’t just a thread of emotional rants but rather concise, impassioned and articulate conversations. Thanks!

    1. tsal says:

      Jay I would agree. I had to go out for an appointment and I really hated to leave because I was enjoying reading and digesting all of the comments.

      Except the one of mine that just got eaten by the blog ghosts. If this posts, Breanda I agree totally with your 3:57 (I think) comment. Please thank your boyfriend. I not only tear up when I hear a patriotic song, I also tear up when I see a man or woman in uniform.

      1. brenda h says:

        You think you agree or you think it’s at 3:57? ;)

      2. tsal says:

        I re-read that – I know I agree and I think it’s 3:57 – sorry :)

      3. tsal says:

        I was typing quickly before my comment was not posted again!

    2. Jon Keller says:

      Agree Jay, thank you to all commenters for engaging in thoughtful exchange rather than mudslinging.

  32. DStein says:

    No surprise from the America haters in Brookline. They’re probably telling their kids at the breakfast table what an evil country America is before sending them off to school. Great bunch of people!

    1. tsal says:

      I was at the Fireplace for dinner in Washington Square not too long ago and I am pretty sure everyone around our table was discussing their hatred of this country……………………………………… Now that I think of it, they had better rename that square :)

  33. Mike Evans says:

    I am absolutely incensed by the anti-God, anti-American, Pro-communist Liberals who try to force their beliefs on everyone else. I PROUDLY and HONORABLY served my country in her military for 25 years, UNDER GOD. If this libby loon doesn’t believe in America then he can go live in Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea for a while. I still PROUDLY believe that America is the best country on the face of the planet and I want my kids to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it instills in them from an early age to have pride in themselves and the most wonderful country on Earth, America. It makes my skin crawl that there are people out here who think like this loon thinks.

    1. massman says:

      Mike – The real shame is that you served your country for 25 years (you serve god on your own time), and have no idea why you were serving. First you bring up god. Like it or not, you’re serving in the military to secure the freedom for me to say that god and religion are ridiculous falsehoods that have done nothing but cause harm to society over history. You also fought for Mr. Rosenthal’s right to dispute the PofA policies. Mike, you and the rest of the military are serving so we don’t have to go to other countries to express ourselves. It’s a shame that so many who have served, have such a poor understanding of the liberties they are defending. You aren’t serving so we can live our lives how we want, not how you want.So I thank you for defending my freedoms overseas. Just as I thank the ACLU for defending my freedoms at home.

      1. tsal says:

        Nicely said, massman.

  34. Brenda H says:

    I too would like to thank everyone for a very intelligent, spirited, thoughtful debate. It is so often that I see people post a comment and get a mean-spirited lambasting for having an opinion that is unpopular or different. Everyone had very strong feelings on the subject, yet everyone remained respectful. Tsal, I hope we “meet” again…you challenged my strong opinion as well. Love that. Massman, great response to Mike Evans. Mike Evans, THANK YOU for your service. Yours and all the men before you have given us the FREEDOM to have such a great debate.

    1. tsal says:

      I hope we meet again as well. I’m regular here as are many others. Jon does a great job on topics.

  35. Stop the foolishness says:

    Years ago when American traditions were held dear there was less crime. No one tried to ban the Pledge, Christmas, Easter, Halloween…… parents disciplined their children and taught them to be respectful and self-sufficient, people talked to each other instead of “communicating” via text, email, blogs, video games….. people held their beliefs dear with no fear of “offending” anyone or someone telling them they couldn’t celebrate their traditions…… kids could go out and play all day, obesity rates weren’t so bad, parents didn’t have to worry so much about child predators walking the streets so freely…… this country is changing all for policital correctness and it’s not for the better. it’s time to start celebrating long-held traditions that made this country work, stop worrying about offending these people – if you are offended by my reciting the Pledge in celebration of my country or my Christmas tree/lights or my Halloween costume than too bad!

    1. tsal says:

      Stop the foolishness – I am always thinking that those of us my age grew up in an ideal world. As you said we went out to play all day. We were not afraid to be out after dark. And we did love our country. Every one of us knew that the American flag never touched the ground and that you stood when you heard the National Anthem and removed your hat. We did communicate. I am a firm believer that video games have increased violence ten fold and social networks have turned us into the “me” generation.

      I just spent time at a vacation place on the south shore that is literally a walk back to that time. The vegetable farm is unattended. They leave money in a basket for you to make change. Kids are out playing at all times of the day and night. People you don’t know smile and say hello. It was so refreshing.

      But – and it’s a big but – I think we forget the things that were not so ideal. Workers automatically had all Christian holidays off but all other religions were excluded. Minorities including women didn’t have the same rights as many. And much more. It wasn’t as perfect for everyone as it might have been for you and me and I was distressed enough by some of the prejudices that it wasn’t that perfect for me either.

      One of the semi-regulars on this board helped me a while ago to understand why people object to the Christmas displays and that’s not easy because I absolutely love Christmas. I still believe in Santa Claus:) For as long as I remember, it has been ONLY Christian displays. It took a while before the Menorah was displayed regularly in towns and many still do not have one. We still do not allow ALL people to display the symbols of their religious holidays.

      It should be all or nothing. It’s as simple as that. That goes for holidays or reciting the Pledge or anything else a person believes. It is everyone’s right as an American citizen to believe as he or she chooses and it’s also the obligation of all American citizens to allow everyone to have that right.

  36. JimB says:

    If parents don’t want their children, or themselves, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to America, then get the hell out, we God and country loving Americans cannot trust you – love it or leave it; there is no in between.

  37. Sue Tonius says:

    The problem with the Pledge is not so much the Pledge itself but the fact that almost all of our politicians and the people who vote them into office have rendered reciting it into a national act of hypocrisy.

  38. When the entertainer at the event in this case it’s an athlete that refuses to stand for the flag in center field durring pledge, thus insulting the guests they are not the same as some one elsewhere not doing so- they should even stand for the opposite country and teams anthems as well when told to do so by their boss. It’s not free speach in that fashion it is a ” Hate Crime Form of Speach” and should be removed – it causes people to get inflamed since a message of hate is directed at them – they should not be allowed on the feild at the fore front position of the ceremony tormenting them. The athletes at pro and even high school games – their protest is not free speech – they are not there to simply play a game. They are putting on a show , putting on an event, they are part of the shows staff, they are part of the events staff and the y overall event. In movies etc actors must be a part of the show they put on as such they when in front of the public down on the field walk out to the center stage they are supposed to perform and be apart of whats going on – meaning they should stand and salute the flag or get off the field and go home since they have decided they will not participate in the show the event that the group they joined is a part in. They are not the same as people in a crowd watching the event by no means and no court ever ruled that freedom of speech is no infringed by someone in an event on center stage that is paid to do a job that they turn around and decide they will not do – their job is not to just play a game but to promote the event the sport the game etc… its all there show since the athlete in the center of the field m, as well as all those apart of the show entertainers they are as such no one refuses to stand for either home team or guest team anthems it’s insulting to the audience they are meant to please.

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