We don’t need no stinkin’ pledges

Why the Pledge of Allegiance is unnecessary

By Tiffany Lin | VTV Editor

It’s not every day a government institution decides that it is necessary for a large group of people to chant together while praising an inanimate object. Unless that inanimate object is the American flag. This year, Irvington has chosen to reinstate the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Though the pledge is meant to encourage national pride, the current student mentality suggests otherwise. Many students only mumble the words, and others don’t even stand, slouching mutely instead. Some advisory classrooms don’t have American flags, so students end up facing the intercom when reciting (or not reciting) the pledge. Clearly, since the Pledge of Allegiance is an ineffective tool for encouraging national pride, it is unnecessary to keep as a daily routine.

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance has gone from a declaration of loyalty to the country to a dispassionate chore for most students. Saying the pledge doesn’t make someone any more patriotic than quoting the Bible makes another person any more virtuous.

Additionally, the line “under God” may make some students feel uncomfortable because the Pledge does not align with their religious beliefs. The line was added in the 1950s by Congress to draw a line between Western society and the “godless” Communists, but it is now 2015, and we are past our Soviet-fearing phase. Not saying the Pledge is justified by freedom of religion, and a student can still demonstrate loyalty to America without repeating the same stream of words every day.

However, currently, all California high schools still need to institute some sort of “daily patriotic exercise,” as detailed in California Education Code Section 52720-52730.

“We are required to recite the Pledge because if we don’t follow the education code, someone could sue the district and force us to do it,” Principal Smoot said. “I don’t want to get a phone call with someone saying we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing. So we’re saying the Pledge.”

Despite the seemingly concrete rules, students have no obligation to comply. After the 1943 case West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, Supreme Court ruled that schools could not punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance since doing so would infringe First Amendment rights.

In the wake of this particular ruling, Justice Hugo Black said, “Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self interest. Love of country must spring from willing hearts and free minds, inspired by a fair administration of wise laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives within the bounds of express constitutional prohibitions.”

The requirement to recite the Pledge of Allegiance is quite outdated and frankly unnecessary. Students have no need to prove their unwavering loyalty to America by mindlessly repeating the same set of words every day.