by Claire Bernish, The Free Thought Project:
Evincing the West’s alarming push toward authoritarian nationalism, a Mississippi lawmaker has now sponsored a bill to fine any school $1,500 for failing to make students recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag within the first hour of classes every day.
State Representative William Shirley apparently deigns the matter so critical to children’s schooling, as the Sun Herald reports, he’s seeking to amend the 1972 Mississippi code dictating treatment of the U.S. flag on school grounds and guidelines regarding the Pledge of Allegiance to include a $1,500 penalty for errant schools.
While it seems Shirley’s bill constitutes coercive, forced nationalism — pledge your allegiance to that flag, or literally pay the consequences — a provision in the proposal provides a loophole for any objectors, as “any student or teacher who objects to reciting the oath of allegiance shall be excused from participating without penalty.”
However, language elsewhere in Shirley’s House Bill 205 suggests that provision might not have teeth:
“The failure of any school or school district to require the teachers under their control to have all pupils repeat the oath of allegiance … shall result in the school or district being assessed a fine for such violation. Any school district found not to be in compliance … shall be fined in an amount of $1,500 for each violation.”
If schools fear being docked with such a harsh penalty, it would be conceivable to imagine administrators pushing educators to enforce the code strictly and beyond what the express stipulations — even punishing students who refuse to recite the Pledge for any reason.
Last year reignited ongoing controversy surrounding the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national song in protest of the epidemic of police brutality in America disproportionately affecting minorities.
While laudably intended, Kaepernick’s silent protest spiked hypernationalism across the country, as those in support mimicked the move by sitting or kneeling during the anthem — or refused to stand for or recite the Pledge — offended those who see such actions as patriotic or even treasonous.
Schools even joined the frenetic return to symbolic patriotism — in remarkably Orwellian ways — as one in California began academically punishing Native American students for refusing to pledge loyalty to the national piece of colored cloth.
Consider that: a teacher found the protest by Indigenous students — whose homeland was invaded by the European predecessors who established the country the flag represents — so abhorrent as to mark down their academic work as a penalty.
“She says that it represents the military and that they risked their lives for us,” explained Native American pupil Leilani Thomas of the offended teacher. “And I always tell her, ‘Well, my people risked our lives for our land, for our freedom. For our rights.”
Thomas astutely understood the teacher’s personal beliefs should not dictate how student’s work was graded, and chose to surreptitiously record the explanation provided for lowering grades. On that audio footage, the teacher could be heard saying,
“Here’s the deal. If you really, really have an argument and feel so strongly about, then I need to see it written out — your argument — in an essay form. Like, why? Why, because here’s the thing; those people, they’re not alive anymore. Your ancestors.”
Flag frenzy could be found in many other examples — even in Mississippi, where Shirley wants to enforce monetary penalties against Pledge of Allegiance ‘violators.’
A student at West Harrison High School found himself suddenly threatened with disciplinary action for refusing to stand for the Pledge — even though he hadn’t done so for years.
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