Counterpoint: Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Recited At Schreiber?

Alex Parker, Staff Writer

During any ordinary year at Schreiber, the ringing of the second period bell is always accompanied by the crackle of the loudspeaker and the jarring scrape of chairs on the floor, as the students stand to face the flag.  The voice on the loudspeaker is joined by the mumbles of students, a chorus of sorts, chanting in a sleepy monotone, “I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America….”  This daily ritual has not been examined often because in the past, it was regarded as something to be done thoughtlessly before class began.  However, more critical thoughts and arguments regarding the Pledge of Allegiance have arisen due to the inconsistency of the announcements and pledge in the past few weeks.  As a result, the students and staff are divided. 

“I have mixed feelings about the pledge.  I don’t think it should be mandatory to stand or say it, but I also don’t think it should be completely obliterated from schools.  Saying the pledge might be equally as important to one person as not saying it is to another.  I believe it’s a matter of personal choice that can vary by student or even by the day or the situation,” said junior Hannah Brooks.

  Although it is nice to think that students should make a personal decision on whether or not to say the pledge, many views are more divisive.  For starters, some feel that the pledge is boring or do not truly understand its purpose.  If students are not learning the meaning of the pledge, then there is nothing to gain at all by reciting it. 

“I think it is unnecessary for children to say the pledge every morning in school.  Many children are too young to even understand its purpose, so it is reduced to nothing more than a mindless ritual that students are forced to obey.  In addition, it doesn’t seem appropriate to pledge one’s allegiance to a country that promises ‘liberty and justice for all’ without following through,” said junior Sarika Israni. 

Indeed, the phrase “liberty and justice for all” rings a bit hollow lately, as social reform movements, most notably Black Lives Matter, have swept the nation in the past months.  A nation that is presently fighting for its very soul is not a golden land of opportunity and freedom.  Lying to children by convincing them that our country is a paradise is morally questionable at best and dangerous at worst.

The argument in favor of the pledge mostly concerns patriotism and injecting the belief into young children that they are a part of a country that is far bigger than themselves.

“I would say that I reject the premise that spreads misinformation about the justice system.  The phrase ‘liberty and justice for all’ isn’t necessarily a declaration of something that presently exists within our country, but rather an ideal to strive for.  Personally, whenever I hear that phrase, to me it is a daily reminder of the kind of world we must never stop fighting to achieve,” said senior Ian Miller. 

However, while some students may feel inspired by the pledge, it is difficult to make the argument that all students will.  Liberty and justice are ideals that we, as a nation, must constantly strive to achieve, but it raises questions about whether students need to be reminded of that at school.  After all, isn’t social media chock full of urgent posts about current events?  If adolescents are constantly inundated with news and calls for justice on social media, then a thirty-second pledge that is recited more out of habit than anything else will hardly turn students into model citizens.

The Pledge of Allegiance is, in the best case scenario, a pointless waste of time.  A thirty-second speech that was memorized in kindergarten and has been repeated on autopilot ever since will hardly have the effect that news and other media have on a student’s perception of America.  The pledge is also potentially dangerous, as the pledge seemingly promotes American exceptionalism.  Those who listen to the words of the pledge may not think critically about it and will assume that the pledge justifies America’s superiority over other nations, a damaging illusion.  If we raise children to believe that the United States and its justice system is flawless, then how can this country ever hope to improve?  The only lasting way to teach children that they must never stop fighting for a better world is to tell them bluntly that the world is flawed.  A perfect country is impossible, but improvement is within reach.  We just need to teach kids to stretch out their arms and work towards it.Should the Pledge of Allegiance Be Recited At Schreiber?