There is much about the Islam that I don’t trust. A lot of it seems cultish. For instance having to believe 6 books of Hadiths (Books filled with quotes of the Prophet Muhammad created by men hundreds of years after he died) are completely correct and were never falsified. This inability to critically analysis concepts within Islam leads to cultish implications. And I understand how a non-religious person could view religion as indoctrination. Blindly following an ideal is not in my remit of knowledge. I am pragmatic and cerebral when it comes digesting information. Blindly following a religion, an ideology or even a state is ridiculous to me. Yet in the midst of the Gabby Douglas ‘controversy’ I think we need to question America indoctrination.
For those of you who are not aware, Gabby Douglas is an African American Olympic Gymnast who won Gold at the 2016 games. I don’t know why I added that she is an African American, it doesn’t really further the story! Anyway, Ms Douglas was criticised for not holding her hand on her chest while the pledge of allegiance was announced. It drew massive outcry, American style. Which means everyone is lucky that a children’s nursery wasn’t shot up. But the real debate shouldn’t be about whether she should of put her hand on her chest or not. The quintessential debate which needs to be addressed is this: is the American’s pledge of allegiance state indoctrination?
John Wilson in his book titled, “Education and Indoctrination” stated that indoctrination distinguishes itself from education via the ability to critically analysis the doctrine they were taught. And although America allows freedom of press, those who stand up against the state’s heinous and diabolical polices, are often ostracised from society. For instance when Slaves tried to stand up for their civil liberties, they were lynched. When Hollywood stars and normal citizens were accused of being communists without any concrete evidence, they were blacklisted. And when they committed revolutionary acts of truth telling, they were sentenced with treason and fled the country (in the case of a true American hero – Edward Snowden). So no you can’t critique the government’s policies, both domestic and foreign, without some repercussion which reverberates throughout American history.
A state like the US was built on ideals and values that were antithetical to the rest of the world at the time. While countries were still being run my monarchs and oppressive regimes, America was be run by ‘the will of people’. That concept was enough to galvanise the majority of citizens (though a slim majority) to revolt against Great Britain. They gained their independence. But conceptually they were left at a quandary; they could never initiate force for civil obedience because it would go against the fabric of their independence. America had to adopt techniques of mass indoctrination. In 1921 American journalist Walter Lippmann proclaimed that the art of democracy requires the ‘manufacture of consent’. This phrase implies that the citizens of the state must buy into the political narrative of the Government by indoctrination. American indoctrination relies on the mainstream ‘establishment’ media. But these elements are intrinsically linked to the pledge of allegiance. How can one pledge allegiance to a state that is constantly changing? ‘The manufacture of consent’ relies on the media creating a nationalistic ethos and to blunt any critically analysis of the state – the definition of indoctrination.
Now with all the historical and contextual issues observed, we can analysis the linguistic discourse of the actual pledge. The first line states, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America”. The flag is an iconic symbolisation of the values of America. When they invade other countries, the citizens of that country burn the flag; burning the ideals. We understand throughout history that the ideals of American democracy and freedom are rigid and hypocritical. For example September 11th 1973, the US government overthrew a democratically elected government in Chile. So pledging an allegiance to the flag, does imply you’re pledging allegiance to an oppressive and hypocritical regime.
The next line states, “and to the Republic for which it stands”. I assume they mean the values of freedom and democracy, but we have already shown those values to be fraudulent. Maybe they mean the same values of McCarthyism? The dictionary claims the definition of McCarthyism is “”the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.” Sounds a lot like indoctrination to me.
Next it states, “one Nation Under God”. Now this is maybe one of the greatest examples of indoctrination because it seamlessly interlinks with a different propaganda doctrine; manifest destiny. Both this line and manifest destiny interlink America greatness and the will of God; this nation was given to the American’s by God to make a difference to the world. Kevin Kruse asserts that this line was also a way of incorporating the idea that God and capitalism where merged together and anyone who goes against capitalism is thus going against God (this line was instituted during the Cold War and red scare).
And lastly it states, “Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” I mean surely not liberty and justice for all? Not liberty and justice for groups like Black Lives Matter? Or Communism sympathiser? Or the Suffragette Movement? Or the LGBT community? I mean they have to fight, scratch and die for before we grant them a seat at the ‘justice table’.
I am sure Gabby Douglas was not committing a political act when she didn’t put her hand on her chest during the pledge of allegiance. In fact the only reason I am writing about this is because I’ve had the idea in my 2nd year of University but had no context to discuss it. But it is an interesting thought. Propaganda, like the pledge, is used to invigorate patriotic leanings but it is a subtle psychology as well in creating an ethos of indoctrination. ISIS does the same thing. ISIS makes their member’s pledge an allegiance to their agenda. They just the same words as America. ISIS claims they are there to ‘liberate’ the people and bring ‘justice’ on earth. They don’t tell their members, “Hey guys we are killing innocent people and steal all their stuff and rape women… You wanna pledge your allegiance?” They use sophisticated tools of propaganda and indoctrination to install pride and value in their victims. America is no different. They just have a different agenda.
So a guy pledges allegiance to flag but it wasn’t the black one with Arabic writing… It was the red, white and blue one with 50 stars in the corner.