“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
With those words many children in the US still begin their day in school. They serve as a reminder of their patriotic responsibility to this country. They open the floor for lessons and discussions on civics. They comprise the “tie that binds”, and are part of the foundation of who we are as a people. They speak to where we are coming from and where we want to go. Our children are versed in the pledge and in its ramifications. And as it appears that their leaders have lost their way then, perhaps “a child shall lead them”, as they say, back to the basics as to why this country is worth fighting for.
On the penultimate day of the month of June, 2021 the following words in a CNN article hit the airways as “breaking news”: “The House passed a resolution Tuesday to expel Confederate statues from the US Capitol and replace its bust of Roger B. Taney, the chief justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision, with one honoring Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice.
The vote was 285 to 120. Sixty-seven Republicans voted with 218 Democrats in support of the bill.” That “breaking news” item might have brought about a din of exultation across this country, in some quarters, especially in its recent grapplings with the stain of racism. However, the news was not met by this writer with joy but with utter shock. The decades long boasts of patriotism, and of devotion to the Constitution appeared vapid, confusing, and even hypocritical.
Had the South won the war and Jefferson Davis made secure as president of the Confederacy no bronze or marble busts of such Union luminaries as Lincoln, Seward, Chase, Cameron and Bates would likely have darkened the door of the capital building which was situated in Richmond, Virginia. I doubt that even Lincoln’s pet dog, Fido, a yellow mongrel dog, would even have been buried in the pet cemetery if any had existed on the grounds upon which their congressional building stood. If there was anything to admire, grudgingly, about those “Johnny Rebs” it would have been their singleness of purpose to their racist cause. Their descendants in the southern states seemed to have inherited the same indefatigable spirit of their ancestors. However, the same cannot be said of the political progeny of the northern states.
Such a development ought to give every American, and those aliens willing to swear allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, a long moment of pause. If the trumpet blown by our political leaders has an uncertain sound coming from it – engendering responses which could be regarded as dithering, as stumbling or as buck-shuffling then one must weigh the sacrifice of blood carefully before willing to shed one ounce of it for this country at anytime and in any place. If our leaders are not vested in this democratic experiment – if they are not serious about fighting our enemies, both “foreign and domestic”, then how can they expect the citizenry to answer their call to action when engulfed by the fires of crisis?
It seems that chattel slavery and the racism that it birthed took a far greater psychological toll on northerners than perhaps they are willing to admit. The allowance of statues and of various monuments dedicated to the Confederacy in many southern states after the Civil War by the US government that vanquished them is mind boggling. Having made a stink about an insurrectionist parading a Confederate flag in the halls of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 is highly perplexing. The outrage in response to that simple but treacherous act which set a precedent is absolute lunacy, considering the fact that statues honoring those who fought to destroy that very building were ensconced in its hallowed halls for years. Again, they were so firmly entrenched in the building that it had to take an act of Congress to try and have them removed. Children read the fine print please!
The congressional vote on June 29th reminded this writer of the Stockholm syndrome. It is a condition in which hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors during captivity. Emotional bonds may be formed between captors and captives, during intimate time together, but these are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Had the children of Abraham Lincoln come down with that condition? Was the real victor Lee and not Grant during the titanic struggle which nearly ripped this country in two? Who were the real hostages to the insidious racism in which this country was mired?
What came to mind also was the Battered woman syndrome, also known as battered person syndrome – a product of long-term domestic abuse. Battered woman syndrome is considered a subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some victims have been known to help their abusers to fight off those who tried to rescue them from their abusers. Is the US government so battered by racism that it ended up defending its proponents until recently? Is it suffering from PTSD and is it just now beginning to recover? Is that the reason for Confederate statues being on display in the Capitol building in the 21st Century? President Theodore Roosevelt said it well: “We can have no ’50-50′ allegiance in this country. Either a man is an American and nothing else, or he is not an American at all.”