All too often, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is a refuge for politicians who “talk the talk but do not walk the walk.”
I can think of no local public official who affirms the principles on which our country was founded more than Paul Sturtz or Barbara Hoppe. Frankly, I don’t care whether they or any other council members recite the Pledge of Allegiance prior to a meeting, but I expect them all to defend our constitutional rights.
I am confident that Sturtz and Hoppe will do that; I am not so sure about some of the others. I have no reason to believe that we as a country are any better off because the pledge is recited at the opening of each daily session of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
In the January 13 Missourian, J. Karl Miller finds “not convincing” Sturtz’s “reminisces of an unhappy experience of robotic recitals in elementary school … .” In typical Miller fashion, he then proceeds to cite his own reminisces of idyllic grammar school experiences with recitations of the Pledge and Bible verses, concluding that no one “was embarrassed or emotionally scarred by the ceremony.”
So we have competing anecdotes, which is not surprising, considering our incredibly diverse population.
My experiences growing up in the 1950s are much more consistent with those of Sturtz than Miller. My classmates, who did not precisely conform to the dominant culture of religious and patriotic recitations, were subjected to discrimination by peers and teachers.
I question whether Miller would have even known if one or more of his classmates had been “emotionally scarred.” These scars are often not readily visible, particularly to someone who is so wedded to the dominant ethos.
Miller doubts “that a public stand against the Pledge of Allegiance will generate a wave of support.” Not surprisingly, in the current political climate of simplistic, angry, inflammatory rhetoric, the principled position of Sturtz and Hoppe has subjected them to criticism.
They certainly showed courage in taking a stand that they knew would be exploited for attack.
It would have been much easier to have kept quiet and gone with the flow. I expect, however, that many thoughtful Columbians, whether they are Miller’s nefarious “progressive intellectuals” or not, value the all too rare courage displayed by these two leaders.
Thank you Mr. Sturtz and Ms. Hoppe for your lesson in civic virtue.
Robert Blake lives in Columbia.