It’s extremely rare that you’ll see me praise a politician, but then again maybe Jesse Ventura still doesn’t qualify as a politician, even though he’s been a Governor for awhile. Either way, here’s to Jesse for taking a bold stand last week in vetoing a bill sent to him by the Minnesota legislature.
Jesse vetoed The Pledge of Allegiance. No, he didn’t ban it, but he did veto a bill that would have made it mandatory for schools to require students to recite The Pledge every week.
Never one to mince words, Jesse explained, “I believe patriotism comes from the heart. Patriotism is voluntary. It is a feeling of loyalty and allegiance that is the result of knowledge and belief. A patriot shows their patriotism through their actions, by their choice. All of us should have free choice when it comes to patriotic displays.”
What he didn’t point out is that this sort of bill is nothing more than the worst kind of political grandstanding. All it does is allow politicians to do their lowest pandering in an attempt to paint any opponent who dares vote against it as unpatriotic and anti-American.
My daughter has to say The Pledge every morning, along with all the kids in her school. Does it hurt them? No. It wouldn’t hurt them to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” either, nor would it serve a practical purpose, so why do it?
You don’t make kids more patriotic by having them say The Pledge every day or even every week. When you do that, it becomes a rote recitation that loses its meaning. If you had to do it when you were in school, think back to what was going through your mind at the time. Once the novelty wears off, kids mumble their way through it, as bored as can be, resenting having to do it.
If The Pledge is so important, why would you want to engender those feelings towards it? On the other hand, if you reserve The Pledge for occasional and truly special circumstances, its message rings with unmistakable clarity.
Nowhere else in the educational process do we force children to stand up and repeat the same lessons they’ve learned over and over, year in and year out, from elementary school to middle school to high school. We don’t do that with the times tables, or verb conjugation, or penmanship practice. Yet somehow, students manage to learn, memorize, and retain those important concepts and many others, too.
If the idea is to try to imbue our children with reasons to be patriotic, that’s fine. But you don’t do that by making them habitually drone The Pledge.
Teach them what the words in The Pledge mean, what they stand for, what we as a people stand for. Teach them the reasons why this American experiment in democracy is the greatest system on the planet. Teach them the vitality of the concepts in the Constitution. Teach them to value the importance of the liberties laid out in the Bill of Rights. Above all, teach them how, as a nation, we’re still striving to live up to that last line, “with liberty and justice for all.”
Ask yourself this: do you love America any less because you didn’t say The Pledge Of Allegiance this morning?