Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

I pledge a waffle to the flag

Jerry Stratton, September 29, 2014

photo for Waffle of Allegiance

I promise to avoid responsibility through caviling and sophistry.

The bumper sticker reads, “I pledge allegiance, not thoughtless obedience.” I’m not really sure why this bumper sticker rubs me the wrong way. I’ve never particularly liked pledging to the flag; I’d rather pledge allegiance to the constitution, and to the Republic which it creates.

But this bumper sticker slogan is like saying, “I promised to obey you, not do what you ask of me.” I mean, yes, it shifts words, and it adds an adjective to the second word, unthinking being always wrong and obedience being one of those things Americans don’t do. That’s why “obey” is such a powerful horror in They Live and on telephone pole stickers. But putting any type of adjective on obedience is waffling. At that point it is no longer obedience. Semantically it’s the same as “I pledge allegiance, not obedience.”

I don’t even disagree with that. I’d probably react less viscerally if it didn’t play word games. But the word-play is holding your fingers crossed behind your back during your marriage vows.

Pledging allegiance is important, and should not be done lightly. You shouldn’t be pledging allegiance if you don’t actually mean allegiance. The Pledge of Allegiance is not liking a business on FaceBook.

For that matter, nobody’s asking for unthinking allegiance to the flag. They’re asking for allegiance to the Republic For Which It Stands. The flag doesn’t require anything of you other than what stands behind it. Other people pledge their allegiance to kings and princes. We pledge ours to an idea. Kings and princes can command obedience. Allegiance to the flag is enforced only by yourself and your own honor.

And I suspect the reason that bumper sticker bugs me so is that their real problem isn’t with supporting the flag, it’s supporting a Republic, and all that this Republic’s constitution means in messy public discourse and lawmaking.

In response to 2014 in photos: For photos and perhaps other quick notes sent from my mobile device or written on the fly during 2014.

January 22, 2015: First Sergeant Reginald Daniels provides a counter-argument for the flag

And, for an alternative view of the flag, here’s First Sergeant Reginald Daniels:

Even though it looks like this, it still means a lot to me… I love this country and what it stands for. I know everybody has their views, but… I take pride in the flag.

  1. <- Progressive gambling
  2. Liberty at sunset ->