Is The Pledge of Allegiance brain-washing? Hi, I'm new at college this year and last week our sociology professor showed us old films of communist children and Nazi children at rallies saluting...

Is The Pledge of Allegiance brain-washing?

Hi, I'm new at college this year and last week our sociology professor showed us old films of communist children and Nazi children at rallies saluting and marching. She got us to talk about how these children were indoctrinated into their beliefs. We all agreed it was political brainwashing and forced children to conform to strict social beliefs and how wrong it was.

However, she then showed us children taking the Pledge of Allegiance and singing The Star Spangled Banner and she said it was the same as the communist's brainwashing? I have to write my homework on children taking The Pledge of Allegiance as social control. She was going on about something called The Bellamy Salute, saying American kids used to do nazi salutes to the flag.

My parents told me that some people at the university are not trustable. Is she a subversive? How can I write my homework so that it isn't brainwashing for little kids to take the pledge in school?

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dbello's profile pic

Posted on

Brainwashing and Patriotism have two very different definitions. Having said that, after reading the previous posts I noticed that the 'history' of The Pledge of Allegiance has not yet been addressed with regard to its creation, mindset, or current reality.

The Pledge of Allegiance 1892 originally written by members of The Knights of Columbus to express their gratitude towards their new country. (An Italian-American organization)

The Pledge of Allegiance 1924 was amended to clarify which nation the allegiance was held.

The Pledge of Allegiance 1954 was amended to clarify their source of rights.

What I find most interesting regarding this topic is the fact that the United States is the only nation on the planet that has had to address this sort of issue. Why is that? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that with the exception of one year in U.S. history more people came to this country from other places than left. Let's face it folks if that is the case what is so wrong with 'The Pledge of Allegiance'? Is it so awful for an individual who comes here, makes a better for themself and their family to affirm their allegiance to the nation that embraced them obviously more than their birth nation? This issue has reached the Supreme Court, primarily due to the 'under God' statement in the pledge, not for brainwashing the citizens. That's the beauty of our system, there are many places in the world that would never tolerate such vocal protest..  If one comes to this country to benefit from our social, political, and economic systems, while at the same time are never forced to relinquish their heritage I think at the very least The Pledge of Allegiance is a 'fair' compromise.

alohaspirit's profile pic

Posted on

Well I think it is perfectly normal for a school to promote patriotism if one of our standards is citizenship in Social Studies education, but I think schools should make it an option for students to participate in the Pledge.

engtchr5's profile pic

Posted on

Jehovah's Witnesses would completely agree with posts 5 and 8, but for entirely different reasons. In their system of beliefs, actions such as saluting a flag, saying the pledge, or honoring one's country in a visible show of support is equivalent to idol worship.

The question is then begged, are you bowing down to the golden calf by demonstrating respect for the country that has provided you with the freedom not to? Some would say yes, and respectfully, I would disagree. Just as honoring one's country is not idol worship, however, it equally is not submission to brainwashing. At all times, you have the right NOT to salute the flag, say the pledge, sing the Star-Spangled Banner, or otherwise react to our country's symbols in a patriotic fashion. It's called freedom.

Having said that, it is equally our freedom to demonstrate our national pride and American heritage by reacting to patriotic moments or symbols with an appropriate demonstration, be that a song, a salute, or a saying. Just as flag-burners have the right to desecrate the emblem of our liberty, we also have the right to conversely show our country its due degree of honor. Such behavior is not a "Pavlov's dogs" reaction of the mind, but rather, a gesture of the heart.  

cburr's profile pic

Posted on

Wow!  What an interesting topic!

Noam Chomsky remarks,

For those who stubbornly seek freedom, there can be no more urgent task than to come to understand the mechanisms and practices of indoctrination. These are easy to perceive in the totalitarian societies, much less so in the system of 'brainwashing under freedom' to which we are subjected and which all too often we serve as willing or unwitting instruments.

That being said, there is little to distinguish indoctrination and socialization in a free society.  Of course a country trains its citizens in its basic principles and procedures!  A democracy is only as strong as the participation of its citizens -- and the citizens must understand their basic responsibilities and the precepts of the country to which they belong.

The problem is not when we inculcate these basic ideals in children.  Rather it is when we encourage or do not challenge blind adherence and the presumption that what government (or party) does is necessarily right.

To my way of thinking, good teachers encourage their students to think critically about these principles and the extent to which they are, in fact, being upheld.  If the principles are sound -- as I believe those underlying our Constitution are -- the student will renew his or her commitment to those ideals.  Even more importantly, the student will embark on a life-long course of participating in society's imperfect efforts to live up to those ideals -- and pointing out where we have fallen short.

 

mrs-campbell's profile pic

Posted on

If tactics like this continue, and without her mentioning any justification such as playing the devil's advocate, file a formal complaint against her.  You can do this anonymously.  If she is just playing "devil's advocate", then fine, but to make you write an essay on it seems a bit over the top.  She should have just made her point and moved on, and not required formal assignments arguing the devil's side.

So writing this will be tough, IF she is looking for validation of her kooky theories.  I say go with your gut and don't write an essay in support of the thesis that she has given you.  Argue against it, and find as much support for your side as possible.  For example, in my school district-as in most others, I would imagine-kids do not have to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag.  It's just not required at all, because of the "God" issue involved in it, and districts have to be politically correct, not offending atheists and other sects that don't believe in God.  The fact that they aren't forced to say the pledge makes it totally different from the nazi society.  Find research on the kids that saluted the flag with a nazi symbol; try to pass it off as amy-lepore stated it, as just a bunch of kids being stupid (I get kids in my class all of the time who draw swastikas or marijuana leaves just to get a reaction; I give them none, and they stop).  So, with a little research, you should be able to support a counter-argument.  Then, if she fails you or tears it apart, you know where her allegiance lies, and it isn't with supporting our country or being patriotic.  Good luck!!!

lynn30k's profile pic

Posted on

Thinking back to my own Intro to Sociology class taken 30 years ago, it was clear that one of the intentions of the teacher was to force the students to question some of the beliefs we had held without question. For example,we believed that because we were going to college, we were entitled to a higher paying job because we were working hard. She turned that back on us, and forced us to realize that the great majority of us were not paying for anything ourselves, but by chance of birth had landed in families that could afford to  send their kids to college, perpetuating the family's upward mobility. I suspect your teacher is doing something similar, and instead of thinking "How dare she compare the practices here to the practices there?", to stop and think of the aspects of governments (good and bad ones) that are similar.

amy-lepore's profile pic

Posted on

Holy Cow!  You've got to be kidding me!  There is a HUGE difference in promoting patriotism and pride in your country and brainwashing little communist children.  For one thing, you are not taught in this country to turn in your parents if they don't put their hands over their hearts or stand to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the "Pledge of Allegiance" at events.  For another, in this country, you are not educated away from the influence of your parents which they do in communist countries ie. The Nazi Youth.  You have every right to go home and ask your parents what they think about certain ideas (just like you're doing here) without any fear of rebuke and punishment.  In a Communist nation, you would not have such freedom.  Yes, young people are impressionable, and they will imitate things they think are funny or cute like salutes, but there is NOTHING close to brainwashing when you learn to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" or sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" in order to honor your country.

It is possible your teacher is playing the Devil's Advocate in order to get you to think and support your own arguments.  However, if you think this is not the case, then let her wacky statements about brainwashing go in one ear and out the other.

evelball's profile pic

Posted on

I am reminded of a few months ago, when our current President, President Obama, was criticized as unpatriotic for not wearing a flag pin! I am a 5th grade teacher and have never had my students say the Pledge of Allegiance. It actually never occurred to me to do this as a daily routine. It didn't make sense to me. Why should they stand and face an object, the flag, and pledge allegiance to "it" and to the country they are living in at this moment? What does this mean to them?

Many of them are immigrants, legal and illegal, they have families in other countries, and America is disrespectul (and often cruel) to them in many ways. They do not have the same rights, or the same access to things we consider "priviledges", like health care. I believe it isn't up to me to make them pledge allegiance. It is up to them, if they want to do that, when they become adults and understand the meaning of pledging allegiance.

Yes, I think there is some element of brainwashing in this act. Just like wearing a flag pin is not unpatriotic, neither is not follwing the masses that raise their right hand over their hearts to chant together about their allegiance for America. Patriotism has to do with action, like helping others in making sure all have equal access to freedoms, rights, and priviledges. 

All, by the way, includes non-Americans. We should pledge allegiance to humanity, if anything, not to a piece of land with borders.

frizzyperm's profile pic

Posted on

"If tactics like this continue without any justification... file a formal complaint against her... if she fails you or tears it apart, you know where her allegiance lies, and it isn't with supporting our country or being patriotic." Cadena

Wow! :-o There's your answer Elfgirl! Your teacher asked you to consider if The Pledge is indoctrination and now someone is saying you should prepare to report her to the authorities for unpatriotic behaviour! Is that The Land of The Free?

Of course The Pledge is indoctrination! What else could it be? Every society has indoctrination. Your teacher's suggestion makes you uncomfortable because you want to believe you are 'free'. But before most social gatherings, Americans are pressured to sing The National Anthem. Why?

It may be in a good cause (ie The USA), but it is still 100% indoctrination and social control.  

Think about it. Everyday in their formative years, before innocent little children can start their day, they must observe a religio-military ceremony promising to support America. What is that, if it is not indoctrination? Doesn't it look the same as the communist ceremonies you criticised? 

The Bellamy Salute... ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellamy_salute

The Bellamy Salute was devised by Francis Bellamy, who wrote The Pledge. It was a Roman salute. Up to WWII, American kids saluted during The Pledge, but this was dropped when the Nazis adopted a similar salute.

xina314's profile pic

Posted on

Holy Cow!  You've got to be kidding me!  There is a HUGE difference in promoting patriotism and pride in your country and brainwashing little communist children.  For one thing, you are not taught in this country to turn in your parents if they don't put their hands over their hearts or stand to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the "Pledge of Allegiance" at events.  For another, in this country, you are not educated away from the influence of your parents which they do in communist countries ie. The Nazi Youth.  You have every right to go home and ask your parents what they think about certain ideas (just like you're doing here) without any fear of rebuke and punishment.  In a Communist nation, you would not have such freedom.  Yes, young people are impressionable, and they will imitate things they think are funny or cute like salutes, but there is NOTHING close to brainwashing when you learn to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" or sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" in order to honor your country.

It is possible your teacher is playing the Devil's Advocate in order to get you to think and support your own arguments.  However, if you think this is not the case, then let her wacky statements about brainwashing go in one ear and out the other.

I can remember when I was in high school and I refused to salute the flag because of religious reasons. I was subsequently sent to the office. Wouldn't this action by the teacher reinforce the notion that a citizen should not question their allegiance? When you are told to recite the same thing every day and punished when you don't, then yes, it acts like brain washing.

In addition, it might be illegal to burn a flag but look at the negative social attention this action has. "Patriotic" people are always persecuting individuals who they feel are not showing proper respect to the country (ie they protest the war or a piece of legislature) and even though we won't be put in jail for a lack of patriotism, it does come with it's own set of cultural punishments. I agree it is important to know the song of the country but to make children recite an outdated salute which barely represents the interests of today's American population is asinine.

Finally, I feel like American ethnocentrism prevents them from connecting the dots on this one.

And "Patriotic" people are also not persecuting individuals who they feel are not showing respect to the country. Please don't lump the millions of patriotic peaceful people with the bigoted few.

xina314's profile pic

Posted on

I sounds like everyone (minus a few) believes the idea that

patriotism=indoctrination. So that any form of patriotism is  brainwashing and wrong.

Is this really what is being said here?

caddiepiece's profile pic

Posted on

Brainwashing and Patriotism have two very different definitions. Having said that, after reading the previous posts I noticed that the 'history' of The Pledge of Allegiance has not yet been addressed with regard to its creation, mindset, or current reality.

The Pledge of Allegiance 1892 originally written by members of The Knights of Columbus to express their gratitude towards their new country. (An Italian-American organization)

The Pledge of Allegiance 1924 was amended to clarify which nation the allegiance was held.

The Pledge of Allegiance 1954 was amended to clarify their source of rights.

What I find most interesting regarding this topic is the fact that the United States is the only nation on the planet that has had to address this sort of issue. Why is that? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that with the exception of one year in U.S. history more people came to this country from other places than left. Let's face it folks if that is the case what is so wrong with 'The Pledge of Allegiance'? Is it so awful for an individual who comes here, makes a better for themself and their family to affirm their allegiance to the nation that embraced them obviously more than their birth nation? This issue has reached the Supreme Court, primarily due to the 'under God' statement in the pledge, not for brainwashing the citizens. That's the beauty of our system, there are many places in the world that would never tolerate such vocal protest..  If one comes to this country to benefit from our social, political, and economic systems, while at the same time are never forced to relinquish their heritage I think at the very least The Pledge of Allegiance is a 'fair' compromise.

I have to ask you where you obtained your facts they are wrong.

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist.

It was reworked in 1924 changing the words "my flag" to "flag of the united states of america" This you had correcy

The knights of Columbus did not come around until 1954 when they started to add the words "under god". Honestly which comes as no suprise being the largest Catholic faternal order. 

Francis Bellamy also took pride that the pledge helped his brother in his dream of achieving a socialist america.

If you look at the root origins of the pledge combined with the adding of religous doctirine, it is no suprise at all that people see the pledge as a form of indoctrination. Children from their very start of school are meant to stand and recite the pledge or be seen as unpatriotic. It is not patriotic in the least to claim your loyalty blindly to a flag. It has been done for generations, and now our government is wrought with corruption and American's image is tarnished world wide. However if you do not stand and pledge your allegiance to the flag you are not truly American, or some drivel like that. 

countrygirlinthesouth's profile pic

Posted on

No, it is not brainwashing!! It is what our country was founded on, BUT our country was also founded on freedom. So if someone doesn't agree with that, then it is their choice. In my opinion, that is hogwash-- I am glad to read that your disagree with your instructor. Please don't let anyone compromise your beliefs.

 

The Pledge of Allegiance is something ALL Americans should show respect to. Countless men and women have given their lives for this country, whether they have been killed, wounded, MIA, POW. There is a saying that goes something like this, "If you can't stand behind our troops; then stand in front of them."

If anyone on here reading this has served in the military, or lost someone in the military, I thank you from the bottom of my heart-- for making it possible to say the Pledge of Allegiance!

mslaluna's profile pic

Posted on

In every society, every walk of life, every family, there is indoctrination. If indoctrication is brain washing then it is.  As educators we walk a fine line between informing, enriching, and opening minds, and doing our own form of propaganda. Increasingly educators are doing their own form of indoctrination, in an attempt to promote their own agendas.

Every time you sing Happy Birthday, promote holidays, and the list goes on and on.  Because there is no law that says one must sing the National Anthem, say the Pledge, or any other pledge, it is not the same as the National Party found in Germany during the period before WWII. 

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