July 29, 2013

Pledge of Allegiance celebrates Columbus

Honoring Columbus and the Origins of the Pledge of Allegiance

By Matt RemleThe Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by a Baptist minister, and devout socialist, Francis Bellamy. Francis’s cousin was well known socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy. The original Pledge of Allegiance was written for the children’s magazine, The Youth’s Companion, as a part of the National-Public Schools celebration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus.

That’s right, the original pledge was written to honor the genocidal, slave trading, colonizer Columbus.

The event to “honor” the 400th year of Columbus’s arrival was developed in part by James Upham, a marketer working for the Youth Companion magazine. Upham believed he could help instill American Nationalism in public schools by selling both American flags, and magazines, to the public schools in accordance with the Columbus celebration.

Bellamy and Upham worked with the National Education Association to support the magazine as a sponsor of the Columbus Day observance, and went as far as lobbying Congress and then President Harrison to proclaim making the public school flag ceremony the center of the Columbus celebrations, which was granted by the Presidential Proclamation 335.
Comment:  This is classic American myth-making. Columbus was the white man who launched the American "experiment." We've celebrated him for "bringing civilization to the wilderness" for centuries.

Only recently have we noted that he really launched the conquest and genocide of thousands of Indian nations. And the rape of the earth for the enrichment of the Founding Fathers and other Euro-Christian elitists. The facts haven't changed much, but the framing has undergone a radical revision.

This is why we fight the racism and stereotyping inherent in so much of our culture. As long as we celebrate "progress"--as in climate- and environment-destroying industries--it's difficult to change directions. Reframing American history as destruction rather than creation helps make this possible. From that flows many benefits, including acknowledgment of and respect for the remaining tribes.

And this leads to policies that produce concrete results: government-to-government relations, land and water rights, casino gaming, etc. When we see Indians as active participants in society rather than dead or dying obstacles, everything changes. We saw that in the 1960s and '70s and it's still going on.

For more on the Pledge of Allegiance, see Pledge Fans vs. 1st Amendment.

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