from I Pledge Allegiance
written by Bill Martin, Jr. and Michael Sampson
illustrated by Chris Raschka
I learned to say “The Pledge” when I was in kindergarten. We all stood next to our tables, put our right hands over our hearts, and recited words we didn’t completely understand. But we did it together, and did it together until we graduated high school. By then most of us did understand, mostly.
A question has arisen lately: Can a person pledge loyalty to more than one idea, symbol, person, country? The brouhaha, (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brouhaha) ruckus, furor, din stems from a comment spoken not in the Halls of Congress, but at a public coffee shop. When a member of the House of Representatives spoke her mind, it was a voice heard around the country.
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Ilhan Omar said at an event held this past February 27, at Busboys and Poets, a politically minded coffee shop and restaurant chain in Washington, D.C. According to https://www.dictionary.com/browse/loyalty, “Allegiance applies particularly to a citizen's duty to his or her country…”
As we pledge our allegiance to our flag, we demonstrate our loyalty to the rights and freedoms defined in our Constitution. Our country guarantees each citizen freedom of speech. But with freedom, comes responsibility. Ms. Omar’s statement was loaded, maybe unintentionally, but loaded all the same, with implication.
The implied question has been asked overtly and covertly since at least 1948, the year Israel became its own independent country. So if you’re Jewish, can you really be loyal to the United States?
It was this implication, perhaps unstated, perhaps understated, perhaps misstated, but certainly understood, that caused the Representatives, Senators, and everyone on social media to express themselves so loudly.
When I did something wrong, my mom would tell me that she loved me even though she did not love my behavior. As a child, it was hard to understand that separation. It is so packed with emotion, that it is still kinda hard to understand
The result of all that Twitter chattering, newsfeeds, interviews with politicians and others was the passage of a broad bill condemning all bigotry in an effort “to address remarks made by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, who suggested last week pro-Israel political organizations ‘push for allegiance to a foreign country.’
The resolution denounces bigotry towards ‘traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants.’” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/house-resolution-would-condemn-anti-semitic-and-anti-muslim-bigotry/
Some say that the expansive inclusivity of the bill makes it less meaningful. I say, if we need to legislate courtesy, we are in worse shape than I thought.
-—stay curious! (and err on the side of kindness)
I’m reading The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart. Even though it’s only March, I’m betting on this one for a Newbery. The story is full of wisdom, loss and love, and what it means to be a family.