Sun. Jan 23rd, 2022

On Monday, Oct. 20, West Chester University hosted a debate between two candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, Ryan Costello and Manan Trivedi. The debate, sponsored by the Daily Local, went smoothly. The candidates answered as political candidates do with vague and unoriginal answers. What many spectators found more interesting was an event that transpired before the debate.

I worked as one of four student moderators. The Daily Local informed me that the debate would begin with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Having not stated the Pledge of Allegiance since my senior year of high school in 2011, I attempted to recall its inspiring words. Good news: my memory is solid. Bad news: I was appalled by the Pledge I had just recalled.

I replied to the Daily Local, requesting that we not recite these tragic pros before the debate. Unsurprisingly, the Daily Local informed me that they would keep the Pledge but I am free to remain seated. I cannot blame the Daily Local. We state the Pledge every single day of school until we graduate at age eighteen. I am now 22 years old, and I am morally opposed to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in any manner. As a result, Students for Liberty, a club I have participated in since 2012, sat during the Pledge of Allegiance at the debate, much to the dismay of surrounding spectators.

Allow me to explain. “I pledge allegiance to the flag…” Do we seriously find it acceptable as adults to pledge to an inanimate object? If the Pledge only stated, “I pledge allegiance to the nation for which the flag stands,” that would be different, but the Pledge literally has us pledge to a flag, a piece of cloth.

“And to the Republic for which it stands.” Number one will not voluntarily pledge to the United States federal government. The list of reasons includes but is not limited to: the existence of slavery until the ratification of the Reconstruction Amendments, the annihilation of  Native Americans, the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII, unjust wars in the Middle East, the War on Drugs, and the NSA spying program. If the Pledge stated, “I will work to better the Republic for which the flag stands,” that would be different, but it does not.

“Under God…” I identify as an agnostic. Why would I claim that the United States is a nation under God if I am not sure He exists?

“Indivisible,” the idea that the United States is indivisible was solidified with the Union victory of the Civil War. Most Americans conflate secession with support for slavery, but this is inaccurate. New England considered secession during the War of 1812. Other states, such as Vermont, used nullification, the brother of secession, in an effort to curb the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Most Americans would agree that it is acceptable for sections of the United States to break away from the federal government if the federal government began to severely abuse its power. While nation-wide authoritarianism has been rare throughout U.S. history, our republic is young and always in danger of widespread tyranny.

“With liberty and justice for all.” The United States does not have, nor has it ever had, liberty and justice for all of its citizens. This final line clearly represents why the Pledge is not pro-American values, but rather, propaganda. No rational U.S. adult, no matter how “pro-American,” would deny that there is and always has been injustice in the U.S. Some might look towards the discrimination of women and minorities. Others may refer to excessive economic regulation or the NSA. If the Pledge said, “With the goal of liberty and justice for all,” that would be different, but it does not.

Readers may not agree with all of my qualms, but I believe most Americans can admit the Pledge needs some major revisions. The Pledge of Allegiance is not a pledge to fellow American citizens, brave veterans, American values, or what we hope America can achieve someday. It is a pledge to a flag and the federal government, complete with a notion about God that not everyone shares and a blatant lie about the current state of liberty and justice in the United States. In its place, I offer The Pledge of Liberty:

“I pledge allegiance to the American principle that all people possess certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I pledge to defend these rights, and the principle that all people own themselves. I pledge to defend these principles with the hope that someday all people, American and non-American, will share liberty and justice.”

Tom Mandracchia is a fourth-year student who is the vice president of Students of Liberty. He can be reached at TM760425@wcupa.edu.

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