[ExI] Is this really the case?

Joseph Bloch joseph at josephbloch.com
Fri Jun 29 04:38:30 UTC 2007

> -----Original Message-----
> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org [mailto:extropy-chat-
> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Mike Dougherty
> Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2007 11:26 PM
> To: ExI chat list
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Is this really the case?
> On 6/28/07, Joseph Bloch <joseph at josephbloch.com> wrote:
> > This is, of course, something that should be alarming to Transhumanists
> > Extropians on several different levels. Not only do such people, as a
> > actively oppose many biotechnological advances that we would endorse as
> > of our goal of overcoming human limitations through technology, but the
> > entire idea of the type of ideological indoctrination, the hostility to
> > inquiry, that so alarmed you in that clip is and should be anathema to
> How do you feel about the "pledge of allegiance" in schools?  I'm not
> talking about how it end ("...one nation under god") but how it begins
> ("I pledge allegiance to the flag...")  National pride is great and
> all, but it still stinks of indoctrination to me.
> My wife thought I was crazy and anti-American for being so unpatriotic
> until I explained that of course nobody would argue against a "flag"
> because really a flag is not offensive or wrong in any way - but the
> flag is a symbol for an obviously biased government policy (to
> strongly euphemize the point)  How do we teach children to blindly
> "pledge allegiance" to this government via a positive symbol despite
> the truth?
> Or am I the only one who sees it this way?

A lot of people disagree with me on this particular issue, but I'm in favor
of the Pledge of Allegiance (although I personally favor the 1953 version,
for obvious reasons):

"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."

I would say that the analogy between the Pledge and the sort of thing we see
in "Jesus Camp" breaks down on two levels. 

First, there's nothing in the Pledge that precludes questioning or free
inquiry; ever since I was a young kid I understood the "liberty and justice
for all" phrase to point to a goal, rather than an extant reality. As in, I
was pledging to seek that end, not giving a rote recitation that America was
perfect in that respect. 

Second, on a much more practical level, a 30-second recitation once per day
is nothing compared to the 24-hour 3-week intense indoctrination (not to
mention their life leading up to and after the camp itself) these kids were
going through. (And don't forget that kids are able to be excused from
recitation of the Pledge with a parents note; for exmple; Jehovah's
Witnesses). I would be much more concerned that my kids are being taught
that the Earth is 6,000 years old than they might not be taught about the
CIA's role in some Central American coup. 


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