LETTER: Pledge requirement is creeping fascism

Monday, December 13, 2010 | 3:10 p.m. CST

Daryl Dudley, the Fourth Ward Chamber of Commerce candidate, is proposing an ordinance that would require the council to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before any council meeting or work session. According to my 2004 American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of fascism is as follows: "Totalitarianism marked by right-wing dictatorship and bellicose nationalism."

To me, Mr. Dudley's proposal is an indicator of bellicose nationalism, and thus, of creeping fascism. Reading the Bill of Rights before each City Council meeting or work session would be far, far better. The Constitution of the United States is what we grown-ups are concerned about, not pledges of allegiance.

Wendy Hofmann is a Columbia resident.

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Paul Allaire December 13, 2010 | 3:42 p.m.

He is representative of the cumulative intelligence of the voters who elected him over candidates who were much more qualified for the position.

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frank christian December 13, 2010 | 4:45 p.m.

Appears Wendy believes that the United States and probably the world, began on the day she was born. I just looked and found that the "Pledge" was written and promoted for President B. Harrison to add to a nice program commemorating Columbus Day, 1982. Seems F. Bellamy an avowed Socialist, enlisted the Nat'l Education Association to write the first Pledge of Allegiance.

Fascism has not crept upon us,thru these decades, except for the necessity for patriotic Americans to destroy it in Europe and Japan. The blight that has been creeping into our lives, the one that has killed more people through murder and starvation than all the rest combined is Socialism! Socialism refutes Nationalism, Patriotism and most certainly allegiance to any "Flag" and demands the allegiance of all to the central government.

Is this what Wendy is looking for? I hope not. If it is,where did she learn this absurdity? Surely not our public school system.

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Michael Williams December 13, 2010 | 6:03 p.m.

Well, when I wuz growin' up, we sed the Pledge at the start of each school day. I guess I may feel a bit fascist, but more than likely it's just a little gas.

And, the last I cud tell, tha City Council ain't very bellicose. Why, I never saw former Mayor Hindman punch ennybody! McDavid, neither. Well, I guess McDavid has slapped a few baby butts, dat bellicose?

An' I have no problems readin' the Bill of Rights, either. Using the "plain language" interpretation, of course. No fair twistin' it b'yond all recognition.

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Paul Allaire December 13, 2010 | 8:21 p.m.

Frank, if socialism refutes nationalism and patriotism, why did an avowed socialist (your words) enlist the NEA to write the thing? I am assuming that you consider it to be both patriotic and nationalistic.

Why do we have children mindlessly recite it long before they are able to understand the vocabulary?

My negative view of this centers around the above and the fact that a person is pledging their allegiance to something that is nothing but a symbol. Everyone here is capable of understanding that their government can become so degraded that the flag may be the only thing recognizable. In the event that the country moved completely to fascism or socialism, it is likely that the flag would remain unmolested. There is an unmistakable danger in the fact that people willingly align themselves with a symbol of their government rather than any principles. Burn the flag for all I care. How about an oath to uphold the constitution instead? Or do you still not understand what I'm saying?

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Michael Williams December 13, 2010 | 8:37 p.m.

Paul says, "How about an oath to uphold the constitution instead?"

Well, we've tried that, but it doesn't seem to work.

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Derrick Fogle December 13, 2010 | 9:31 p.m.

It was written by a socialist.

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hank ottinger December 13, 2010 | 9:37 p.m.

Well, if we're going to do this, I insist that pledgees revert to the "Bellamy salute," which originally accompanied the Pledge. Consult the above-cited article for a description.

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Michael Williams December 13, 2010 | 9:45 p.m.

Well, hell, if it's good enough for the US Congress and the Boy Scouts, then it's good enough for me!

(Much ado about not much....drop it please, Mr Dudley. Pick the right battles, and this ain't one of them).

(I do like the Bill of Rights idea, tho. Or a pledge that acknowledges the ultimate controlling document as the US Constitution, but also acknowledges the city council's immediate role in properly running this city...which seems appropriate).

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Justin Ritter December 13, 2010 | 10:42 p.m.

I'm ambivalent on the subject of whether or not the council should recite the pledge prior to meetings.

And I don't know Mr. Dudley's motivation for the pledge's recitation (political? patriotic?).

However, to call his proposal evidence of "creeping fascism" is ridiculous. The pledge calls for allegiance to the republic...with liberty and justice for all. There is nothing inherently right-wing or bellicose about it.

I take the extent to which people here argue about politics, and taxes, and war, (and on and on) as evidence that they actually care about this nation and its people, and want what they feel is best for it. Sure, things just tilted a bit to the right after the last elections. I remember when they were tilted to the left. Was the pledge also fascist then?

The point I'm trying to make is that the pledge transcends the current political landscape. By making the pledge, I explicitly affirm my allegiance to country, and (in my opinion) implicitly affirm my love of country and countrymen. It is a pledge to the very things that are the bedrock of this nation, including the Bill of Rights, which Ms. Hofmann suggests should be read in its stead. Our nation isn't right-wing, left-wing, or moderate; it is all of the above and none of the above, and that is what makes it great. Even when we've stumbled a little, we can fix ourselves. That is what I pledge to.

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frank christian December 14, 2010 | 9:04 a.m.

Paul - Don't know why a Socialist and the NEA would be the ones to write our pledge, that's why I mentioned it. K. Marx had just published his booklet in 1848, which outlined the "rules of the game" for the first time. Maybe that was it.

A better question, in my view,is why Wendy, you and all of yours would so object? Couldn't hurt! Unless of course the intent is to change our way of life in this country. Then,have people "pledging their allegiance to something that is nothing but a symbol.",would be a hassle to those who expect all to give their "all" to something really tangible, the Government.

I need to take this opportunity to correct my own absurdity. The date of the pledge was 1892, not 1982. Sorry.

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frank christian December 14, 2010 | 9:29 a.m.

Mr. Ottinger - It takes me a while anymore, but it just occurred that the Bellamy salute is in use today, even though symbolism is "out" with some, our gov't symbolically reaches out with it's palm upturned annually, on April 15th.

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Paul Allaire December 14, 2010 | 2:27 p.m.

Yes, yes, the Bellamy salute for us all!!!

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Andrew Hansen December 14, 2010 | 3:41 p.m.

To quote Inigo Montoya "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
The author of the letter might want to consider using a bit better source than the American Heritage Dictionary. That is a weak and inaccurate definition of fascism, and I supsect that it was cherry-picked for this letter.

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Jim Wood January 13, 2011 | 5:22 p.m.

It is inherently fascist for governments (at any level) to forcibly require pledges, statements, and oaths of loyalty to the state from their citizens and officials.

Fascism involves the glorification of the state at the expense of individual liberty. Passing an ordinance requiring the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance (which glorifies the United States) also directly impedes on council members' freedom to refuse to say it ("freedom" also includes the freedom to refuse). If Daryl Dudley and his Chamber of Commerce/Republican allies on the council think that saying the pledge will enlighten them, then let them do so. The minute they make it official policy and force others to do so is the minute their actions become fascist.

It's not about God. It's not about patriotism. It's about force.

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