Constitution with flag

Forced Flag Allegiance is Not Constitutional

The oath taken by federal government officials, the same I once took as a lawyer for the Department of Defense, is about upholding the Constitution. It does not include allegiance to a flag.

National flags merely represent or symbolize a country.

Flags are neither foundation nor substance of what makes a nation, though there is established protocol for respectfully handling and displaying the US flag as a symbol of America.

Not that those who adamantly insist on everyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance bother themselves with pesky details.

There’s also a constitutional right to burn the American flag, deemed protected free speech by the Supreme Court in 1989, further establishing the flag as a symbol of a promise, not the promise itself.

In Raising Questions, a work of nonfiction published in 2014, I noted of the rural county seat in central Nevada where I lived at the time:

At county commissioner public hearings, local citizens seem to take great delight in standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance beforehand. Is it out of the swelling pride of patriotism? Probably not, since these folks apparently think the federal government is the root of all evil.

So why do they recite the pledge with such fervor? I suspect it has everything to do with “one nation, under God,” with utter disregard and disdain, ironically, for “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Some county residents I’ve observed are the very antithesis of liberty and justice for all, and appear as divisive as Moses parting the Red Sea.

Too many in that county had a hypocritical lack of respect for the flag itself, deeming the Confederate flag to be just as worthy as, and equal to, the Stars and Stripes. Despite the reality that Nevada was not a part of the Civil War, and the “Party of Lincoln” they adhere to today was not exactly on the losing Confederate side of that battle.

In Alienable Rights, first novel of my Other Worldly series, protagonist Rowan Layne lives in a similar small-minded town, wherein she bemoans inappropriate use of an American flag backdrop to erect an anti-alien sign in the county declared a “Second Amendment Sanctuary and Alien-Free Zone.”

While I was drafting Alienable Rights, the then Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, later among those intending to bully their way into overturning the 2020 presidential election results in Clark County once he was no longer an elected official and couldn’t do it the blatantly corrupt way, was busy posting on Facebook how he would uphold a “God-given right to bear arms”—against a waving American flag backdrop.

When an official state attorney does not comprehend that gun rights stem from the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution, not some stylized religious edict, and that the First Amendment of the same legal document establishes separation of church and state such that we are a secular nation, we have a pernicious problem. Not to mention Laxalt’s flag abuse, because guns and his god also have nothing to do with the American flag.

But given how many of his fellow Republicans, such as a certain Texas senator, seem enthralled by the Pledge of Allegiance, let’s look at the history behind it.

The concept of a verbal vow to our nation’s flag evolved during the Civil War. This might have had something to do with traitorous Confederates flying their own flag in contravention of the concept of indivisible.

It wasn’t until 1892 that Christian Socialistuh-oh!—Francis Bellamy wrote the actual pledge for use in patriotic celebrations surrounding the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the new world. Not that Columbus ever set foot on what became US soil to conduct mayhem perpetrated elsewhere.

Hence, the pledge commemorated an event occurring in 1492, and Columbus was neither American nor had anything to do with the creation of the USA or its flag several centuries later.

The pledge nonetheless gained popularity in public schools during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but as originally written: “I pledge allegiance to my flag.” It was changed to “the flag of the United States of America” in 1923.

In 1942, Congress officially adopted it, decreeing a hand placed over your heart while reciting the pledge, due to increasing fascism in Europe. Previously, it involved a salute with right arm, hand outstretched, extended toward the flag. Similarity to a Nazi salute had not gone unnoticed, while absurdity of autocratic, absolute fealty to fabric eluded them.

One other critical change occurred. As originally written, the pledge did not include “One nation under God,” added in the 1950s over fear of communism (as if that made sense). This led to claims of violation of separation of church and state under the First Amendment because children were required to profess their flag allegiance in public schools.

American citizens of Japanese ancestry imprisoned in internment camps during World War II were also forced to daily recite the pledge. The indelible irony? The American flag symbolizes the very freedoms denied anyone who is commanded to express allegiance to it.

Today, the legitimate fear is not communism, but the risk of falling into fascist behavior worthy of authoritarian regimes not enamored of liberty and justice for all.

False patriot blowhards might attack folks like me, claiming I’m against the pledge, so I must be against the flag. No, but it beats being against the Constitution itself. Including attempting to impede the fundamental right to vote, or to peacefully protest.

As the late great Texas journalist Molly Ivins said, “I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag.”

As Rowan Layne would say, “Boy howdy!”




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