Patriots engage in cult-like behavior, whether they care to admit it or not. As a child, one of the very first things one is taught is The Pledge of Allegiance, putting one’s right hand over the heart and reciting verses that, to a very young child, doesn’t make much – if any – sense at all.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read:
“I pledge allegiance to 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.”

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration. Today it reads:

“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.”

Section 4 of the Flag Code states:

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag: “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.”, should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.”

I don’t know about you, but pledging allegiance to a flag smacks of idolatry to me, and I don’t mean that in the biblical sense. I understand that some will state that it’s what the flag represents that one is pledging allegiance to, but I still find the idea of forcing anyone to do it really creepy, especially when those involved are children who simply have no concept of the meaning behind the words.

White Americans are the biggest patriots, followed by certain Blacks, Hispanics, and finally, Asians. When I was a child, I always wondered why, in the White neighborhoods, one saw American flags flying from the porches. I never saw that in minority areas, and I still don’t. For many Blacks, the 4th of July is simply another excuse for a cook out – patriotism has little to do with it. My family never has celebrated Independence Day. Why would they? Our people certainly weren’t freed from British rule, we were under the ‘ownership’ of White Southerners (and yes, some of our kind as well).

Black people mostly created and sang religious songs, rather than patriotic. White people were more focused on that angle, and the most famous of all, The Star Spangled Banner, as I wrote in an older post, was written by Francis Scott Key, who was decidedly anti Black, pro slavery, and anti Abolition which is reflected in the national anthem, as well as revealed in this documentary created by Morgan State University students.

Personally, I find patriotism off putting, the behavior cult-like and eerie. Parades, the military, and other events which display the American flag in abundance make me feel excluded as a woman of color. My ancestors were enslaved through the end of the Civil War, not freed on July 4, 1777. And anyway, Whites at that time were not the slaves of the British, they were simply under the domination of the British government. That isn’t the same thing as being the owner of another human being.

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