The Pledge of Allegiance: Discipline and Punish


Gabriel Davidson, Editor

Watch a video of Chinese students reciting an oath to their country in class and you’ll see comments decrying the totalitarian culture of the People’s Republic of China, and while not far from the truth, these observers fail to reflect on the obedience to the state instilled in young children in the United States, our very own Pledge of Allegiance.

Indoctrination in the United States education system, and indeed indoctrination in the world, is not lost on the astute observer of history. Michel Foucault, who dedicated much of his study to ‘invisible’ forms of control, is quoted as saying “Schools serve the same social functions as prisons and mental institutions- to define, classify, control, and regulate people.”

While the full scope and history of pedagogy in the United States couldn’t possibly be summarized in this article, we know very well how little funding schools with a majority of non-white student base receives, as often school funding is tied to property taxes. Schools in the inner city are one example. There is a severe lack of diversity in the purveyors of knowledge and bastions of authority in American schools, 72% of teachers are white.[1] Teachers are much less diverse than their students.[2] Schools teach and propagate a ‘standardized’ and ‘correct’ English, and while classes do exist for Mexican-American and African-American literature, they are constantly under threat by reactionary forces within our country, as is critical race theory. As the facade that is de jure legal equality crumbles and de facto inequality becomes evermore prevalent, the WASP ruling class of this country fears class-conscious and racially-conscious individuals who could threaten the establishment. As J. Sakai writes in Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat:

Amerika had no feudal or communal past, but was constructed from the ground up according to the nightmare vision of the bourgeoisie. 2. Amerika began its national life as an oppressor nation, as a colonizer of oppressed peoples. 3. Amerika not only has a capitalist ruling class, but all classes and strata of Euro-Amerikans are bourgeoisified, with a preoccupation for petty privileges and property ownership the normal guiding star of the white masses. 4. Amerika is so decadent that it has no proletariat of its own, but must exist parasitically on the colonial proletariat of oppressed nations and national minorities. Truly, a Babylon “whose life was death”.

Even in social studies, the narrative is largely from the view of the white settler-colonialist, and while, once more, classes do exist from another perspective, they are constantly under threat, whether they do or do not conform with the white narrative. Major criticisms of the United States by the minority leaders and civil rights champions mentioned in textbooks are glossed over or left out completely, turning these crusaders and renegades often against America into beacons of conformity. In short, the rebels who fought, often to the death, for the rights of the oppressed in this country have been assimilated into the oppressor’s mythos, turned against the little man they once stood for. It is taught that your ballot can bring about real change. This isn’t the case. It’s taught that nonviolence can truly revolutionize the world. Not a chance. These stipulations are forwarded to minimize the threat of the masses that, should they only will it, could in an instant overturn the AmeriKKKan world order. Thank Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and his ilk, who called for uniting students around White Anglo-Saxon Protestant values and traditions:

The language of the new nation, its laws, its institutions, its political ideas, its literature, its customs, its precepts, its prayers, primarily derived from Britain.

“Our classes may detest some gross abuse of workers’ rights in the far past, but it’s the past, workers enjoy rights now, don’t they? Sure, slavery existed, and so did Japanese internment, and sure we might teach a few passages of that milquetoast socialist Howard Zinn’s book, but now everything has changed. Capitalism is benevolent. If it weren’t for whites, we wouldn’t have this grand American project, this system for true democracy and equality.”

I could go on, but the injustices and the indoctrination of our school system and the crimes therein are too long for an article like mine. The Pledge of Allegiance is but one of many methods, much more sinister in their ‘invisibility’ as Foucault may have called it, and while some students at Sahuaro question or opt to sit out of the Pledge, they may very well not realize this is but one of the measures taken to return reactionary values into our schools, to marginalize the impact of minorities, and to return the school to its traditional role; to foster complacency and breed cattle ready to be shipped off to work.

You have a constitutional right to sit out of the Pledge. Courts have upheld this. No teacher here can force you to take part should you not want to participate. You need not feel compelled to stand and recite it, not now. You ought not be intimidated into standing.