Patriotism

There was a celebration of the 125th anniversary of the origin of the Pledge of Allegiance today in Malden:

James Bailey Upham (1845-1905) resided on Lincoln Street in Malden and was an active member of the First Baptist Church. As a partner at the popular children’s magazine, The Youth’s Companion, Upham devised a promotion to distribute an American flag to every public school in the country and to have students recite an oath to the flag in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.

There’s more to the story here with this interesting bit:

What is uncontested is this: The pledge — in an early form — was first published in the magazine Youth Companion on Sept. 8, 1892. YouthCompanion was, in the words of the early publishers Nathanial Willis and Ada Rand, aimed at  encouraging  “virtue and piety, and … warn against the ways of transgression.”  Both Upham and Francis Bellamy, a minister,  then worked for the magazine. In 1888, one of the departments in the magazine launched the School Flag Movement. This was a campaign to sell flags to public schools. In the guise of patriotism, a genius marketing boom was born.

Yes, the idea of the Pledge was originated to sell flags. Now that’s American patriotism.

You see the same thing in the NFL:

In 2015, a Senate report released by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake poured cold water on some of the more heartwarming moments of patriotism seen in professional sports.

The report found the Department of Defense had spent $6.8 million on what they called “paid patriotism” between 2012 and 2015. This money was spread out among 50 pro teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, MLS and others.

In exchange for the money, teams organized displays of national pride including flag presentations, the honoring of military members, reenlistment ceremonies, and even the most unassailable and uplifting of patriotic moments: surprise military homecomings. To be clear, plenty of teams also do, and have done, such things with no compensation.

and it wasn’t until 2009 that players were mandated to be on the field for the Anthem–before that they usually stayed in the locker room until after the Anthem.

It sure seems like one of the main reasons for displays of patriotism in the US is to make money.

Oh, there’s also religious freedom involved:

On Monday, June 3, 1935, Watch Tower Society president J. F. Rutherford, was interviewed at a Witness convention about “the flag salute by children in school”. He told the convention audience that to salute an earthly emblem, ascribing salvation to it, was unfaithfulness to God. Rutherford said that he would not do it.” While the matter was not yet established doctrine or written policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses, at least some Witness families quickly made a personal conscientious decision on the matter.

Well, I’m sure everyone realized they had a right to their beliefs. Ha ha, I kid:

In September in Lynn, Massachusetts, a third-grader and Jehovah’s Witness named Carleton Nichols refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and was expelled from school. The Nichols incident received widespread media attention, and other Witness students soon followed suit. Rutherford gave a radio address praising Nichols, and schools around the country began expelling Witness students and firing Witness teachers.

and it gets worse:

Minersville, Pennsylvania was predominantly Roman Catholic and there was significant animosity towards the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Tensions were already high before this case arose and many viewed this as one way to get back at the Witnesses. As a result, his children were subjected to teasing, taunting, and attacks from the other kids. For Lillian, this meant giving up her status as class president and losing most of her friends. “When I’d come to school,” she said, “they would throw a hail of pebbles and yell things like, ‘Here comes Jehovah!’ Billy’s fifth grade teacher attempted to physically force his arm out of his pocket to make the requisite salute.

A local Catholic church started a boycott of the family store and its business dropped off.

and even worse:

On June 9, a mob of 2,500 burned the Kingdom Hall in Kennebunkport, Maine. On June 16, Litchfield, Illinois police jailed all of that town’s sixty Witnesses, ostensibly protecting them from their neighbors. On June 18, townspeople in Rawlins, Wyoming brutally beat five Witnesses; on June 22, the people of Parco, Wyoming tarred and feathered another.

The American Civil Liberties Union reported to the Justice Department that nearly 1,500 Witnesses were physically attacked in more than 300 communities nationwide. One Southern sheriff told a reporter why Witnesses were being run out of town: “They’re traitors; the Supreme Court says so. Ain’t you heard?”

Remember this the next time the conservatives cry about religious freedom.

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