A few minutes of actually bothering to look up the facts will show that the court has declared the pledge of allegiance, as an activity that school students are officially requested to participate in, unconstitutional. This is very different from declaring the words unconstitutional. I have yet to see one public statement of opinion on the matter that indicated the writer was capable of comprehending the difference.
Besides which, the court is right. One cannot pledge the pledge of allegiance, as it reads today, without affirming the existence of God -- specifically, a god that is addressed by "God" rather than "Allah" or "Jehovah". For the schools to ask students to accept that existence is nothing less than religious coercion, and asking them to in the same statement proclaim their belief that the Flag of the United States of America stands for liberty is hypocrisy.
This public reaction distresses me for the same reason that the pledge itself has long distressed me. The pledge is not a pledge of allegiance to the United States. It is a pledge of allegiance to a symbol of the United States, and by that it is a considering of the symbol to be more important than the reality. And when one sees politicians claiming that the sanctity of this flag is of higher value than the sanctity of the freedoms for which it is held to stand, and that therefore speech that includes burning of said flag should not be free, I think we can see the results of this attitude.
And I see this in the public opinion about this court decision. The sanctity of a public mantra is considered to be of higher value than the freedoms of which it speaks; people seem to be taking the mantra for the reality, and neglecting the reality.
We are acheiving a cargo-cult freedom in this country. We have believed, we have let ourselves be led to believe, that a flag with stars and stripes, a mantra repeated by schoolchildren, and even the name "The United States of America", are sufficient to guarantee that we shall live in freedom. And so we have supported these symbols, and insisted upon upholding them absolutely, while sacrificing to this cause the very freedoms for which we claim they stand.
I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, and to the ideals for which I hold it to stand: one nation, indivisible, with peace, freedom, liberty, and justice for all.
I will use the flag, and other symbols of my country, to show my support for it and for these ideals. But I shall not confuse these ideals with their symbols, nor condone the sacrifice of these ideals on the altars of those symbols.