To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, November 23, 2020

New Observercast

Pledging Allegiance Can Prove Confusing

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BY GARY EDMONDSON

At the end of September, the OU Undergraduate Student Congress voted to dispense with saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of its meetings.

The OU Daily reported, “Author of the resolution Gabi Thompson said her motivation for wanting the pledge removed was two-pronged – she finds the flag salute’s roots in Columbus Day problematic, and the salute is not in the constitutional bylaws.

“In the debate, some congress members said the flag salute represented the flag and national unity, while others said it represented a history of oppression of minorities.”

Maybe I over-think things. But when folks demand allegiance to our flag as a part of a display of public patriotism, I wonder if it is the flag Col. John Chivington carried into Black Kettle’s Cheyenne village on Big Sandy Creek in 1864 where women and children were massacred and mutilated.

Or is the flag being celebrated the one that peace chief Black Kettle was flying in front of his tent that day? He and his wife – Ar-no-ho-wok – managed to survive.

Old Glory has been storied from Fort McHenry to Iwo Jima and beyond. But scoundrels, too, have wrapped themselves in Old Glory to justify vile intentions and worse deeds or to escape accountability afterwards.

Weather permitting, I put my flag out every morning. I do so to honor my war hero dad who helped defeat German Nazis 74 years ago [never supposing that American Nazis would ever have an ally in the White House] and to remind my neighbors with their stars-and-bars flags and license plates that the Union was preserved.

Chivington rode back to Denver to a hero’s welcome, his soldiers famously brandishing grisly souvenirs of female body parts.

Four years later, almost to the day, Black Kettle – still flying the Stars and Stripes – was attacked by the genocidal Custer, who was tracking Kiowa warriors. [Of course, all Indians were accountable for individual depredations back then and subject to reprisals – much like Palestinians today.]

Black Kettle and Ar-no-ho-wok died that day in the bloody snow on the bank of the Washita. The soldiers took the women and girls they would rape back to Camp Supply and paraded into camp with our colors held high.

While the blood of heroes is still represented on those stripes, some of those representing us have stained our flag with shame.

Samuel Johnson is credited for first observing, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” [Picture Bone-Spurs-in-Chief wrapping a flag around himself. Oh, yeah. We have that picture.]

Still, are we meant to honor the flags at the Statue of Liberty welcoming outsiders to our melting pot or those flags flying above border camps for caged kids?

And if you weren’t saying “My country, right or wrong” four years ago, you have no credibility today.

We would better serve our country if we followed the lead of elected officials in declaring our loyalty to protecting and promoting our founding principles:

“I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and to the republic it created and sustains – one nation, under laws, indivisible, striving for liberty and justice for all.”

But even this declaration requires a personal integrity that seems to be in short supply among our liar-in-chief and the remoras trailing him for a share of the offal profits.

Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.