As early as 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virgina Board of Education vs. Barnette that students being compelled to stand up to salute the flag undermines their First Amendment right.
And since then, there have been debates about whether students should be required to stand, cross their hearts and swear, with people thinking that students who aren’t are unpatriotic and reckless.
But that could be further from the truth.
According to U.S. History.org, the Pledge of Allegiance came from socialist minister Francis Bellamy who published his pledge in The Youth’s Companion on Thursday, Sept. 8, 1892, hoping that it would be adopted worldwide.
Additionally, U.S. History.org said that Bellamy’s pledge didn’t include “the flag of the United States of America” or “under God” as those phrases were omitted much later.
And alarming enough, U.S History.org mentioned that Bellamy uses the military salute and during World War II, this was changed to “put your right hand over your heart” as Bellamy’s salute resembled too much of the Nazi’s salute.
So if the Pledge of Allegiance has evolved during the times of civil unrest and global conflict, why couldn’t people change their stance on enforcing that pledge onto students?
Because it’s tradition? But the pledge had been changed to accommodate the times.
And it doesn’t help that the United States has a track record of negatively impacting several communities, especially the Indigenous and Black communities.
The Department of the Interior has identified 53 residential schools that have unmarked burial sites of children, with 500 confirmed deaths from 19 schools, and officials expect the number to rise to thousands if not ten thousands, according to The Washington Post.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the U.S. has never properly addressed the exploitation and gross human rights violation of enslavement of Black people nor the ongoing discrimination with policies that prevent Black people from accessing adequate health care, housing, education, employment opportunities and treatment.
And let’s not forget the countless tragedies that happened in the U.S. history such as the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, The Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese Internment Camps and the colonization of the Pacific Islands just to name a few.
Under these circumstances, when the U.S. has harmed those communities in countless ways, why should it be that young kids have to salute the flag that symbolizes their nation as wholesome for everyone?
Native Americans don’t respect the flag when this nation has taken their land away and prioritized erasing their people, culture and heritage, and still does so with their descendants. Black people don’t respect the flag because of how their people are still being treated, along with others who face similar sentiments about this nation.
Although there will be people who disagree, teachers reprimanding students who don’t stand up disregard what those students sit down for and imposing kids to follow this age-old tradition is simply unconstitutional.