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Monday, December 06, 2004

Repeat After Me

Growing up, I always wondered why I was meant to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It was an instinctual curiosity, accompanied by a lack of desire to feel pumped about making the pledge, and only later in life did I see the daily recital for what it is – brainwashing.

Is there some chance school kids are going to suddenly revolt against the government or seek asylum at a foreign embassy? No. Our children's loyalty to this country is not in question, not at that age at least, yet we force them to repeat the same sing-song pledge every school day or their lives. We drill the pledge into their heads to the point that you never forget the words for the rest of your life. Even Alzheimer's can't get erase it.

But the pounding of this American idealism – this so-called liberty and justice for all – is apparently not enough. Florida lawmakers earlier this year passed the Carey Baker Freedom Flag Act, which is named for a Eustis lawmaker who spent a year serving in Iraq. The act mandates that every Florida public school classroom have an American flag flying there, ostensible so children will be forced to genuflect to the symbol of America every day while reciting a pledge to the country.

What's next? Mandatory portraits of Dubya in every classroom, with daily pledges of loyalty to Our Leader? I shouldn't joke -- already Clear Channel has been posting billboards that have a picture of Bush with the words "Or Leader" in large text, kinda the way Saddam and other tyrants had their faces plastered everywhere in their respective kingdoms.

Do you think this encourages any critical thinking on the part of these kids, or is it an attempt to cleanse their minds of any thought that might make them question the government? As an adult, I can clearly see that the pledge is hypocritical and false, that there is no liberty and justice for all. But how much deprogramming does it take for people to see through the veil of patriotism? Too much, as the Nov. 2 election makes clear. Brainwashing works.

As a humorous aside, I suppose, the Carey Baker Freedom Flag Act has become somewhat of a pain-in-the-ass for schools that already had flags in their classrooms. The act requires a minimum size flag that is larger than what most classes have, so schools are being required to spend money otherwise used on education to replace these perfectly good flags with larger ones.

They could save time and money in this brainashing op if they would only send a few of the less patriotic kids to Guantamo Bay, or maybe Abu Gharib, for detention. The rest would fall in line.


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