Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I pledge allegiance.....

Are you fucking insane?!. Seriously, a pledge of allegiance? Can you think of anything more demeaning, patronising or vomit inducing?!

Now according to the Hollywood documentaries I've watched like Kindergarten Cop and Speed, this kind of thing is done in American schools but they don't even do it to a country or an unelected figurehead but to a rag on a pole. I'd be interested to hear how widespread this is though, or even if it is compulsory? Essentially Jo I am asking you as my token American reader!

Seriously though, what a ridiculous idea? I've always found this kind of thing quite insidious and more indicative of a society heading towards authoritarianism, a ruling class so insecure it needs to force the populace into empty gestures of loyalty. The sad thing is that if this kind of thing becomes the norm, which I doubt it will - I have great faith in this country's teenagers ability to subvert anything so 'pure'. But if it does become the norm, what happens to the people who refuse to take this pledge? Will they be ostracised and villified? Will children choosing not to belch empty platitudes be taught that they are somehow less British, less patriotic?

I really don't like this increasing emphasis from politicians on Patriotism and Loyalty. The very idea that you can measure these things by the things you say, whether you support the government 100% in all things. You can no longer protest outside parliament without booking in advance. You are also not allowed to carry literature or banners or protest in favour of any number of organisations the government has labelled terrorist organisations. Now this isn't just people like Al Q'aeda, but a whole raft of people who are simply considered terrorists by governments we happen to like. Like the PKK for instance. The Turkish government has engaged in several acts of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds and has one of the worst human rights records in the world - but they border Iraq so the American government likes them and they award us contracts to build damns that will ultimately wipe out Kurdish settlements, displacing thousands of people so we like them.

Sorry, off the point. Patriotism. I'll leave you with this. What's more patriotic ina democratic society - to question the motives and the actions of the government that has been elected to serve you, or to blindly fall in line and believe that the priviledged few who have been granted such power always have your best interests at heart and to allow them to erode the liberties and freedoms so many people died to protect in the name of 'protecting you'?


Hanrah said...

Let us not forget that this isn't a pledge to the country - but to the Queen herself!

I reckon this is a cunning plan to bring back "treason" as a popular charge. That way the government can start hanging people again.

Sorry, I didn't mean "people" I meant "terrorists".

Oh, no, I didn't mean "terrorists" I meant "Muslims".

Hang on, maybe that is "anyone remotely non-white".

Oh, screw it, we all know what they mean - "anyone who disagrees with, challenges or dislikes the opinionated vomit contained in the pages of the Daily Mail".

Don't you just love democracy.

MattJ said...

Maybe we can have witchcraft laws again!

Olivia said...

I wasn't sure I even wanted to get into this, but I will have to think very carefully over my response, though there is much I could say, and even more that I would like to say...

Jo said...

I'll be objective about your Pledge of Allegiance rant since we both know that imperialism and fascism once was the forte of none other than the British. No offense meant.

I grew up saying the pledge at the beginning of each school day. As I understand it, not only do Texas kids have to say the U.S. Pledge each morning, but they have to say the gay ass -- oops, I promised I'd be objective!-- I mean "much revered" Texas pledge, too. The idiots in the Texas Legislature (I give up!)recently amended the Texas pledge to say "Under God," which was removed several years ago from the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.

Reality Check: A pledge, or a conglomeration of fascist platitudes as Matt may characterize it, isn't the means by which people will become indoctrinated. They are words, and children, being the clever bugs they are, are more likely to ignore and be bored by the pledged and rebel against saying it in most cases (which they already do).

We have much more to worry about from the Girl Scouts, who will inevitably bring this world to its knees by delivering sweet, irresistible cookies to your door.

By the way, since I grew up saying the pledge every day and remain, faithfully, both American and freethinking, what does that make of your theory?

MattJ said...

How can I take offence at a fact? It's not like you an hide world domination and subjegation under the rug is it? lol!

I wouldn't suggest that only the pledge would indoctrinate the children, but it's a cog that could be used in a bigger propoganda machine (check out the recent Prince Harry stories for th definition of that word!). As I said in the post, I have great faith in the cynicism of our children. On the other hand, we are educated and have access to and an interest in the wider world. We don't believe everything we read in our paper of choice and don't get the rest of our facts from the TV. The sad fact is that a large proportion of people do, and they are easily swayed.

This is a dystopian vision of course, I don't see a totalitarian Britain in the immediate future but I think it's always good to be cautious of greater state control and the erosion of liberties and freedom.

The number of people that buy tyhe Daily Mail, The Sun and The Mirror and their ilk really does make nme doubt your opinion of the intellignce of people Jo, it's difficult to agree int he face of statisitcs like that! lol!

We are lucky in this country in that the Girl Scouts don't push their cookies onto unsuspecting adults.

MattJ said...

On the other hand, it's almost worth it being instigated just to see the comedy backlash. Oh wait! The Now Show is back on, this has guaranteed content written all over it lol!

Hanrah said...

The pledge thing is very different to your US version - we'd have to pledge to the Queen. It's pretty much the same as you guys having to pledge allegiance to George - and I'm sure there are a few people who'd object to that!

MattJ said...

From the Rah:

"If we get a pledge, I think it should go like this . . . .

I am British and I pledge to appreciate that, even when I’m a bit tipsy and annoyed at the government.
I pledge to defend our democracy at all costs without imposing our beliefs on others, as we have learned from experience how bad things can get when we get power crazy and try to take over the world (sorry about that).
I will remember that we have also given lots of good things to the world, and take pride in being British.
I will uphold our proud traditions of queuing, drinking tea, self-deprecating humour and inventing games which we are rubbish at.
Permission to shout “hurrah” in an annoyingly loud voice?

(at this point the person leading the pledge should respond "permission granted")


I think that is a pledge we can all enjoy."

I don't think you can say fairer than that? Short, accurate and to the point enabling us all to finish reciting in time for opening time :)

A further suggestion was than we should recite it whilst gripping a steaming mug of tea!

Jo said...

Not only should you recite it while gripping said mug of steaming tea, but you must, by way of natural British salute, project the pinky on the mug hand out in a display of pansy solidarity.

Oh, and Matt, I'm sure that there are LOTS of people who are far dumber than those who would see our pledge objectively. In America they are the watchers of FOX news, readers of Ann Coulter and listeners/foaming disciples of Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.

And about Prince Harry: Did he really say that he hates the country? If so, how apropos is that for a propaganda machine?

Jo said...

P.S. Damned those Girl Scouts and their cookies! I ate several last night after ranting! :(

MattJ said...

That's a quote out of context, he was basically whining about the weather.

Fact is at the end of last year teh Army spent a fortune hiring a PR company, then a 'secret' mission to Afghanistan for a Royal who the public are sympathetic with. 10 weeks in, the drudge report leaks and 'exlusive'?! what's exclusive about it? Everyone knew but agreed not to tell - so why did the drudge wait 10 weeks? Then every single news outlet int eh UK carries 'exclusive' stories of the 'Warrior Prince'?

It was propogana on a massive scale, it was the only story in every single national paper for the best part of a week, it was the lead story on every single news channel and every single radio station. Every one of the pictures was released by the palace and every one of the stories was sanitised by the MOD. What would you call it? lol!

MattJ said...

Oh yeah, and pinky sticking out is for little cups, not steaming mugs. If you weren't some uncouth American you would have known that :D

Jo said...

I apologize for my lapse in tea vessel grip methods.

And the Drudge Report is stupid anyway. Have you checked that site out? Talk about Web 1.0!

MattJ said...

It's perfectly OK, these little mistakes can easily be made when dealing wth a foreign culture. For instance did you know that it is illegal to put sugar in tea unless you are a member of the building trade?

Well OK, it isn't but it bloody well should be! :D

Hanrah said...

Oi! I have sugar in my tea!

It is perfectly acceptable for anyone who doesn't drink it out of a china cup and accompany it with cucumber sandwiches!

Although, admittedly, builders do tend to have more sugar than tea!

MattJ said...

Well everyone seems to have at least one sick and perverted secret, at least I know what your is now.

MattJ said...

I really have no will of my own. As soon as I had posted my last comment I went to make a mug of tea.

Olivia said...

Meh, don't feel like saying anything now...except: Hooray for sweetened tea, albeit only slightly, and only then with agave nectar :)

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