Saturday, December 02, 2006

Schools, the Pledge of Allegiance and emotional engineering

Corning school picture. Not where I went btw.

This past week I have been grappling with the notion of transferring my eldest into public school. He currently goes to a Montessori school and will finish his third grade. After that, he might have the possibility of going to 'upper el' (grades 4-6) but there are a few factors why that might not be possible.
At any rate, I bit the bullet last wednesday and visited the elementary school in our neighbourhood. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised; the school looked cozy enough on the inside and all the classes have seperate wings. The school is huge (650 kids) and there are 6 classes for each grade. The curriculum though looks to be very good. The third graders have been working on their writing skills using the W5's (what when why etc) in writing their reports and they've learned how to write their reports; first brainstorm, then draft, then edit, then write. And they've all been learning powerpoint (!) and converted their reports into a powerpoint presentation. This was all established interestingly enough under Bush as Governor (don't lose faith in the program now, somebody else must have put it together) and is known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills program. TEKS.

The assistant principal was very nice and knowledgable herself and was a teacher at the same school in the mid 80s. 15 of her collegues who were there at the time still teach at the school today. They have an excellent library, very pretty, organized and heavily used. They also have computer labs for the younger and older kids with a computer teacher for three days a week. They alternate music, art and pe classes every three days. And the classes have only 22 kids in them until grade 6. All in all, the school itself and the education level looked to be pretty high standard and the principals seem to have the right attitude and accessibility. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed.
But, as with all public schools, here's the clincher; there is that ubiqitous Pledge of Allegiance. I have said from the beginning that I arrived in this country that this whole pledge thing reeked (Youth, serve your fuhrer)

of 'Hitler Youth' symbolism. And this morning, after doing some research, I am shocked and dismayed to find out how accurate I was;
The Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag originally (1892 to 1945) began with a military salute. The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy, cousin and cohort to Edward. The pledge was created to promote their military socialism in the most socialistic institution: government schools (socialized schools). They wanted government to take over all schools and create the "industrial army" from children to spread the Bellamy vision. The Bellamys admired the military and they wanted all of society to ape the military under a martial law system.

The most socialistic institutions in the USA -and the cause of the spread of socialism throughout the USA- has been the military and government schools (socialist schools).

The military salute began the Pledge of Allegiance and the gesture was then extended toward the flag with a straight-arm gesture and thus, Francis' early pledge was the origin of the straight-arm salute of German National Socialism as discovered by the historian Dr. Rex Curry, author of "Pledge of Allegiance Secrets." Shocking photos are on the web.

Early flag ettiquette for men in uniform was to perform the straight-arm salute - not the military salute - when the flag was passing or when the Pledge of Allegiance was being robotically chanted. That practice lasted as long as 1942 for civilians
The original Pledge of Allegiance began with a military salute that was then extended out toward the flag. That is how the classic stylized straight-arm salute originated in the USA's pledge.

As consequence, the USA set a bad example for a long time, as the world observed the U.S. military delivering the straight-arm salute to the flag before WWI, during WWI, after WWI, and for up to three decades before the existence of the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

People were persecuted for refusing to pledge or to perform the straight-arm salute to the national flag. That was to the flag of the USA (the stars and stripes) and of Germany (the swastika flag) as it happened at the same time. Some religious people considered it sacrilegious. There were good reasons to view the pledge/salute as the worship of government. Most people do not know that a cross was worshiped as the notorious symbol of German National Socialism. The NSGWP called their symbol the Hakenkreuz, not the swastika. Hakenkreuz means "hooked cross." Although the swastika was an ancient symbol, Professor Rex Curry (author of "Swastika Secrets") discovered that it was also used sometimes by German National Socialists to represent "S" letters for their "socialism." With a 45 degree turn of his Hakenkreuz, the leader of the NSGWP combined the cross with collectivism, merged church and state, meshed religion and socialism, and mandated the worship of government

For several pictures depicting this go HERE! For some reason I tried to download some pictures and Blogger did not make it happen. I even got permission from Professor Curry himself. So..check it out.

However, even if one might think, well,that was then and this is now, we don't salute the same way, it does not have the same connotation for sure! Think again. To any non-American this slavish, sheep-mentality-jump-to-the-feet pledge is something that looks militaristic straight out of an old science fiction film. To me, it's part of this whole propagandic emotional engineering that effects children when they are the most vulneralbe and susceptible to brainwashing as children during Kindergarten, elementary school cannot make philosophical distinctions and engage in critical thinking. Come middle and high school, they'll be effectively programmed to consider it 'normal' and not question it. The few that might most likely come from critically thinking homes but the masses in any society does not, in my observation, engage in such critical discriminating thought. Consider this book, 'A Child of Hitler'. Alfons Heck joined the Jungvolk which was a junior branch of the Hitler Youth at age 10. Hitler ended up having very loyal and faithful little soldiers by the time they were 16/17. I have read a few accounts growing up of men ending up fighting mere German boys at the end of WW2.

However, if you think the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines set off a (no doubt manipulated by Country and Western radio stations) furor about making a comment about Bush, consider this exchange (follow the link) of college students in California who decided to drop the pledge of allegiance;
Student leaders at a California college have touched off a furor by banning the Pledge of Allegiance at their meetings, saying they see no reason to publicly swear loyalty to God and the U.S. government.

The move by Orange Coast College student trustees, the latest clash over patriotism and religion in American schools, has infuriated some of their classmates -- prompting one young woman to loudly recite the pledge in front of the board on Wednesday night in defiance of the rule.

"America is the one thing I'm passionate about and I can't let them take that away from me," 18-year-old political science major Christine Zoldos told Reuters.

Yikes! Especially in the years following 9/11 with the neoconservative Bush administration in place has their been an atmosphere that some referred to as 'fascism'. 14 Points of fascism to be exact. Whether you can believe or fathom that or not, the pledge of allegiance has very much been one of those symbolistic gestures and oaths that require even religious people to pledge allegiance to 'Mammon'. In order to appease the religious folks during the 50s, the 'under God' was added and made more palatable. I still believe a loyalty oath is appropriate in a military setting only where you literally have to rely on others in life and death. In a democracy and a multi-ethnic, pluralistic one as the United States, it has no business being promoted period!
Yes yes, you are entitled to have your child be exempt from participating but how would that look? How about the peer pressure? He's only 8.
I still have very strong reservations about this issue and I am not sure at this point what I will decide to do. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think if they kept the same upright arm stance that after WW2 they would have kept the pledge here in the US?


Blogger Kvatch said...

...there is that ubiqitous Pledge of Allegiance.

Ingrid, just to add a little historical context. When I was in grade school in Lubbock (1970-72). The children were required not only to recite the pledge, but also to recite a prayer, before the school day began. Any child that refused was suspended--despite the fact that the Supreme Court had ruled the practice unconstitutional 3 years before.

Though the school might make a show of "exempting" your child. This is Texas, the pressure to ignore your wishes will be enormous. I'm an advocate of public school generally, but not in Texas! Though I should point out that I'm probably also heavily biased by my experiences as a child growing up in the Lone Star State.

8:30 PM  
Blogger DA said...

Excelent post Ingrid. Good survey!

"As consequence, the USA set a bad example for a long time" still counts an many aspects. The entire US (or even the entire western system) system seems to be based on facism governed by the happy few (warmongers and mega finance institutions). I think we all should stand up and speak the unspeakable. But proceed with caution.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

Blogger just ate my comment. Trying again.

The prayer started in the 50's along with "under God" in the Pledge. I was a high school sophomore or thereabouts.

I agree about the Pledge but it's not at the top of my list of issues. It's been my experience that to most kids it's meaningless babble. They usually don't even get the words right.

If they're taking it seriously, there's probably much more jingoism going on the in the school than the Pledge standing alone.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Kvatch, I think the education here might also depend on the neighbourhood but on the whole, I think they've actually improved since you were here last. Also, this is Austin where it is a little blue haven in a big sea of red. I would feel ok about the curriculum and the fact that they do not pray anymore.
DA, thanks. It was/is a total gut reaction to this and as Ann eludes to, I'm taking it with the jingoism that I see in this current climate (although it's subsiding some). Ann, you're right and you make an excellent point. Like I mention to Dimitri, it's a reactive feeling that I have..thanks 'ya'll' for adding your much appreciated two cents and opinions!

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think seven-year-olds are going to make the Pledge of Allegiance an issue unless their parents do. At that age, you don't comprehend the meaning of the words as well.

When I was in elementary school, I said the POA while Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter were in office and I didn't know much about them or comprehended what was going on outside of school or when I sat down in front of the television with my parents and watched sports, news and (gulp) Lawrence Welk every Saturday night.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Cyberotter said...

This is not about the children being motivated or instructed by doctrine recited in front of a flag. This is about having parental control over the formation of your children’s social and civil development. The POA sole purpose today is to teach children how to conform to an authority figure by placing the child in an environment of his or her peers and asked to participate. If the action is not carried out then social persuasion is used in the form of singling the child out in front of the class or drawing attention to non-participation in the exercise. Nowhere else in our educational system is civil obedient teachings more evident than the POA. Of course once a child is made aware of his or her obligation to the authority in question then it is time to start using moral objectivity as the motivation. Remember you can’t be a good Christian unless you got o church. Why do you think that is? It combines the two elements of respecting an authority figure, priests and God, with the penalty of social and civic ridicule. As is the case with all repetitive acts the goal is not to educate, but rather lessen the impact of choice.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pledge to the flag seems to be left over relic in the USA which is not taken too seriously expect for those few who are "nationalistically inclined. “
In Australia we have a Pledge of Commitment for all new citizens read aloud as a pledge as part of the citizenship ceremony.

There are two pledges. The difference between them is that one pledge refers to God and the second merely leaves out the words, under God on the first line.

Australian Citizenship Pledge #1
From this time forward, under God,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
Whose democratic beliefs I share,
Whose rights and liberties I respect,
And whose laws I will uphold and obey.

Best wishes

8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DOnt sind yor kids ta public scool! THey is teaching false doctrines like electrocutshun (that we comes frum monkeys! I aint never seed no monkey use numchucks, has you?) And I never went ta public shcool or any school and it never hurt me none...Nope I is jez fine....

I like the pledge. I t jez dont go far enuff fer me...I would like ta add sumthin like
"And thanks to Holy Jesus, the only true son of god and the only way to eternal slavation-AND NOT THAT THAR Mel Gibson one...I like that thar White one what speaks inglish"

11:31 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

excellent post!! i hope that you don't mind that i linked to you. nothing surprises me anymore. our entire history is taught to us as this wonderful shiny beacon for the world. reality tends to be a bit more-- realistic and harsher. thanks for the eye opener.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Great post! I dislike the pledge. But as many before me said, it meant nothing to me as a child going to school. Just said it because I had to like the many other things I had to do that I didn't want to. I just asked my 13 yr old about and he said pretty much the same thing.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Wow, great feedback guys. I guess with all the commentary how the pledge didn't mean anything to you because you were kids/when you were kids makes me feel better about it. I do agree with Cyberotter, wholeheartedly, but if the kid in question is taught to question and to think at home, all is not lost! (as those college kids show in the story).
Robster, let me tell you, we sometimes watch Lawrence Welk (well, I am certainly not watching it) because my husband has sentimental memories from when he first saw it as a kid. Must have been all those crushes lol.
Cyberotter, well put and I totally agree. It's the principal of the reasoning behind it all. However, from the comments we've read, it seems that for a lot of those kids, it goes in one ear, and out the next. It makes me less concerned.
Lindsay, a left over relic indeed! I think quite a few 'patriotic' nationals here would take issue with that! I do like the Aussie pledge, and I think when you're being sworn in it is appropriate as well to recite the/a pledge. When I got sworn in as a Canadian, same thing. I had the choice though to pledge allegiance to the Queen and I thankfully opted out of that one (sorry dahling),ha!
Jeremiah, came up out of that bunker for some fresh air now did ya? Long time no see and welcome nevertheless! My visit to you has been long overdue and I apologize! I guess you reciting that pledge has not hurt you none either huh? Well, we all turn out the way God intended I guess, haha.
Betmo! I'm honoured! I don't think I've ever been linked to! Gee..zanks! (as my three year old would say) The topic is definitely food for thought isn't it? I do suspect that this is a hard habit to break or a tough emotional issue for people to relinquish, as Lindsay referred to 'the old relic'. Who knows we might see the day..thanks again for the linking.
Mary, welcome! I have seen you around so many mutual blogs but never had the pleasure. Come to think of it, I don't know whether I ever had the pleasure of visiting you! I might have but sometimes there are so many blogs and so little time. I have especially little time these days to post on my own what with my mom visiting. At least we're slowly but surely de-cluttering the house and re-organizing..Good to hear that your daughter also remains unaffected by the pledge drones. Can you believe it that sometimes you actually don't want your kid to pay attention? lol
Alrightie people, it's late and I need to turn in. Thanks for adding your thoughts and insights, my worries have been more alleviated than I thought possible,
a bientot tout!

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's worth trying to get your child out of saying the pledge. I'm sure it's bad for one.

What I do now if I am in a situation where it is being said and I cannot leave is, stand, but not put my hand on my heart, or say it.

In school, we said it first thing, so I would stand out in the hall until it was over. This got me marked late every day, but I said it was a free speech issue.

Later I found out about the origins of the pledge, but my original hunch on it was that it was fascistic and that it would not be a good thing for me to stand there repeating it each day.

These rituals really *are* emotional engineering, I am convinced. And there is something particularly weird about this FLAG idolatry.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was amazed when I dropped my child off at a Montessori school in Hawaii and stayed to watch the morning court gathering. They had the children chanting the pledge of allegiance! Isn't the Montessori philosophy all about individual, creative, critical thinking? It's even more mind-boggling when one considers the number of foreign nationals and non-christians who attend the school. Oh well, it's hard finding a decent school here. She's going to have to walk a fine line so that she isn't hurt by other children if, when she examines her own principles, she stands up for her right to stay silent. But that seems like an awful lot to ask of a six year old! Ah, Citizenship 101.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

The first Montessori school that my son went to also did the pledge of allegiance. Me not being American had to look it up on the internet because I did not know it myself! He could barely even say the words! He was at that school for only 2 1/2 yrs and the other two Montessori schools we have been to (the third now and he's in upper el) did not do it. Good luck with that, it's individual 'management' preference I suppose. It does not fit a school like that, I so agree! So you still live in Hawaii? Do you have other alternative, private school options? Sometimes you'll have another Montessori school 'spring up' somewhere so you might want to look around again.
Good luck and thanks for stopping by,


9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the options are severely limited. I've been dropping word here and there to other parents and it sounds like most of them were not even aware that the pledge was being done. I might take it upon myself to find some way to mention my concerns to the management. It's a very difficult thing to do, as I've found in other day-to-day conversations. It's a topic that is blinding to many, and the rest just want to stand clear no matter what their beliefs. That effect is even more pronounced here in Hawaii, where "fitting in" and not making waves are such a strong part of the prominant Asian culture.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Dear Anonymous,
I can appreciate the situation you're in. Making waves in general can be very challenging for fear of ostracation (oops,sp??) or other subtle peer pressure reprisals. Are you from Hawaii or are you an 'outsider'? (sorry, you might have mentioned it before if you're the same 'anonymous' that is!) That could also be a reason for whatever reaction you might encounter. However, not to side with 'not making waves' but you know, if your child is young and is not in elementary school (our oldest is now in upper elementary in a great montessori school), than it might not even be worth your while to worry about 'indoctrination' because my son does not remember a thing! I think when a child becomes elementary age, they start asking questions as to 'why' rather than just seeing it as a routine 'thing'. You might just let it be and just look for another school environment for after primary..

3:13 PM  

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