This is a guest post by Dana Casey.
It has been so many years since I taught in a school where the Pledge of Allegiance is a normal part of the morning procedures that can’t even remember how long it has been. This year the Pledge was made a part of daily morning announcements at my current school. I do not have a first period class; nonetheless, when the Pledge came over the intercom, I stood with my hand over my heart facing the flag in my empty room and pledged along with Mr. K who leads the school. The flag in my room is one that I purchased, because, just like so many other things, my school does not supply flags for classrooms. I think my room may be the only room in the school graced with the stars and stripes.
One day Mr. K was late getting to the announcements and so he delivered them during second period. I was taken by surprise and was in the middle of doing the drill. I scrambled to prepare the students and to give them quick instructions on my classroom policy. I admonished, “Here is my policy on the Pledge. You don’t have to stand or say the Pledge, but you must respect the moment and sit quietly while others pledge.” Mr. K started the Pledge; I stood with my hand on my heart and said it along with him, and not one — not ONE — student stood up with me.
When the Pledge was done, I looked at my students in disbelief. I said to the class that I was ashamed. I could not believe that not one student had enough pride in America to stand and say the pledge, but the more I thought about it I was not really surprised.
I completely respect someone’s right not to stand for the Pledge if he feels it goes against his beliefs. The freedom not to do such a thing is an important part of American freedoms. Actually, way back in 1973 when I was 12 years old, I alone in my class refuse to stand in protest of the Vietnam War. One wise teacher challenged me in way that I never forgot. He said that though he respected my right to refuse, he wondered if I actually understood exactly what I was protesting and whether I was sure I was making appropriate protest in response. I never forgot what he said and, after giving it some thought, I once again joined my classmates in stating the pledge.
In 1996, decades later, I remembered that intelligent encounter with that teacher when I had a few students who wouldn’t stand. I presented them the same challenge. One young man replied, “What has America ever done for me?” The first response that I gave to him was John Kennedy’s famous quote “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Then I told him that he should go visit many other countries of the world and he would realize that our poor are their middle class and their poor were always going to be poor unlike in America where a man like Ben Carson could go from dire poverty to being an extremely wealthy and nationally admired man. He would then discover what America had to offer him. His only response was to snort in disbelief.
My current group of students didn’t care at all; they didn’t even throw out a challenge like that young man from earlier in my career. They didn’t refuse to stand up, they just couldn’t be bothered. But it is even worse than that. The students that I teach have no American identity at all. In fact, for most of their school career they have been given a decidedly anti-American education. Common Core will continue that anti-American indoctrination nationally (as I will be further revealing in an upcoming article).
Many of my high school students can quote from Malcolm X, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us.”, but they couldn’t give you a single quote from a single U.S. president, not even from Obama. Neither can they tell you when the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, or any other war took place, why it was fought, or who it was fought against. They cannot say what is in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Most of them do not even know that the Emancipation Proclamation was over 151 years ago and think that it happened only a few generations ago. Most of them cannot tell you the reason for celebrating the 4th of July, Veteran’s’ Day, or Memorial Day. They have no pride in being American, because no one has ever taught them why America is an exceptional nation and what freedoms and opportunities America affords them.
Instead, my students have been specifically taught that America has done nothing but cheat them. One of my students from Honduras insisted that all white people have five bedroom homes with two car garages. I told him that I had nonesuch and lived just up the street in a three bedroom row house in a neighborhood with many of my students. He refused to believe me. My students also believe that minorities are a majority of the country (I know, it is oxymoronic). When asked to estimate the percentage of African-Americans in the country, the answers that I get are 45% to 90%! My students have told me that life for African-Americans in this country just as bad as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century. The national leaders of these minorities like Jackson and Sharpton and even the Clintons perpetuate these lies to stir up race hatred and keep us divided, while they line their own pockets with impunity.
America had better re-educate our children soon on why she is such an exceptional country. We must teach the real history of America, her failings and her successes. Currently, most urban students are only taught an exaggerated and biased analysis of her failings and only in relationship to their minority population giving a deeply skewed perception of what America really is. We must emphasize the opportunities America offers which are unique and exceptional. This is why so many want to come to this great land. We must embolden the rugged individual, unlike Obama who has declared him dead. We must once again instill a sense of pride in our country so that my students proudly stand with me, their fellow American, and voluntarily pledge allegiance to the United States of America.
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Dana R. Casey is a veteran high school English teacher of more than two decades in an East-coast urban system. She is a life-long student of theology, philosophy, and politics, dedicated to the true Liberalism of the Enlightenment, as defined by our Founders and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. You can find out more about Dana over at http://www.candiddiscourse.com/.