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Sitting Out the Pledge

City Journal commentary:

I asked my students why they weren't saying the Pledge, or why they stood silently while others recited it. None expressed deeply held political or religious motivations. They were simply indifferent. I learned that many of them had said the Pledge in elementary school, but were unfamiliar with patriotic songs: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "My Country 'Tis of Thee," "America the Beautiful," and a host of others that I had sung with classmates at PS 139 in the 1950s.

This ignorance should not come as a surprise. The most recent New York State test results for eighth graders entering high school indicated that only 27 percent had a basic knowledge of American history. The New York State history curriculum barely touches the actual battles and major political events of the Civil War.

Back when I was in high school, it was radical-chic to be silent during the Pledge, and I find this a very powerful means of expressing dissatisfaction with the path the government is taking, but it's very disheartening that anyone would sit it out just because they don't care. It's this sort of indifference that allows the extremists on both sides to run the agenda.

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Comments (4)

John in CA:

Yeah, and it's "radical chic" to sport a Che t-shirt.

Paul Hamilton:

I should have added that my high school days were the late 60s, so at least we knew what we were talking about. If you'd ask most kids with Che t-shirts today to tell us something about him, they *might* know he was Cuban, but that was about it.

John in CA:

Wasn't Che actually an Argentinian?

Paul Hamilton:

Yes he was. Here's the Wiki for him:

I also saw a documentary on one of the cable channels that said the reason he was sent to Africa to "spread revolution" was that he was messing around with Castro's mistress and Fidel wanted him out of the way. He'd already become a political has-been so this was another case of someone's fame being mainly post-mortem and purely partisan.


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