"I Pledge Allegiance To .."

By William F. Brabenec

02/18/05 "Information Clearing House"
-- Thoughtful patriotism is a noble emotion when displayed in measured and pensive stride, but with our gullible, unquestioned embrace of smug nationalism, patriotism in America has been turned into a political religion. It’s now a creed that justifies any behavior, right or wrong. 

Eric Hoffer postulated in the "True Believer" that if someone lacked personal identity, he would embrace any group or movement just so he could exist as a member of something and be an accepted part of the tribe. “I salute, therefore I am.” That thoughtless loyalism and the need to belong has always been the underlying appeal of nationalism in any motherland, and especially in this country today. 

America’s pervasive and gung-ho patriotism today reeks of a religious experience:

• The U.S. flag with all its symbolism of blood, sweat and tears has become a talisman as potent as the cross or the more ancient swastika. 

• The Devil is in the details of terrorism. Every cosmic bogeyman ever conjured up to control the population is personified in that single image of an evil suicide bomber. Fear is the Devil’s thunder forcing us to cower. The beauty of this bogeyman is that there’s no end in sight … like Satan, the terrorist goes on forever.

• Our Pledge of Allegiance has, in essence, become a national prayer.

• The Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful, among many others, have morphed into devotional hymns sung with the piety of any psalm.

• A sense of infallibility in all matters of war and finance permeates the attitude of the current administration.

• To a Compassionate Conservative, charity is a noble endeavor so long as the effort ultimately proves profitable.

When one considers that the ground we walk on is seamless with that of any other on this globe, it becomes obvious we have misplaced our devotion. “America” isn’t a plot of hallowed ground. Neither the land’s soil nor its flag constitutes “America”. The identity of this country resides in its commitment – by virtue of its Constitution – to universal morality … not venal politics, not emotional theater, not tortured rhetoric. It's our Constitution that deserves our respect, not a simple flag that stands for nothing if the Constitution is ignored.

Like a magician shaking a scarf to distract his audience, our flag is being waved to turn our gaze from the unethical behavior of our corporate government. It’s time for real patriots to stand up and object – loudly. Simply stated, if America is ethically right, we should support it. If America is ethically wrong, we should challenge it. That’s the raw difference between being patriotic and being political. A True Believer will even support a corrupt government. One size fits all patriotism is just political hypnotism.

The End does not justify the means. No deity worth a damn would approve of what the U.S. is doing today – in this country and throughout the world. To whom should I pledge my allegiance, a compassionate God or a Pharisee? Considering today’s ruling cabal, choosing both isn’t an option. We should save our patriotic tears and cry in church over the many sins committed in our names.

To re-direct Bush’s divisive truism: You’re either with Him or against Him!

William F. Brabenec. Email - <>

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