Students for, against standing during pledge

By Faith Tucker, Golden Eye Staff Writer

Sophomore Jameria Campbell does not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. 

“I don’t stand for the pledge because of my religion,” Campbell, who is Jewish, said, “I wouldn’t pledge allegiance to my country, I’d pledge allegiance to my God.”

The Pledge of Allegiance is an expression of allegiance to the flag and the Republic of the United States of America. 

Procedure calls for one to place his or her right hand over his or her heart while saying the pledge.

At Jonesboro High School, the Pledge of Allegiance is said every day after the morning announcements. 

Sophomore Elise Harris defined the pledge as, “Just a way for children to know that they owe respect to their country.” 

“I think students don’t stand for the pledge because they don’t believe what the pledge says is what this country exhibits, which I believe is true,” Harris, who stands for the pledge, said. “It says one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. That’s not true at all. We are a very divided country. People don’t stand because they realize that the pledge isn’t true. We don’t stand by it because we don’t live by it.”

The question of whether children in schools should be required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance has been a question that many have an opinion about.

Sophomore Anny Victoriano questioned the necessity of the practice.  

“I really don’t think we should have to; I don’t think there is any point in it,” Victoriano said.

Sophomore Gabby Roddy agreed.

“I don’t think I see a point in it,” Roddy said. “I think people should do whatever they want.”

Students have a variety of explanations and reasons as to why they refuse to participate. 

The most prominent explanation is religion or personal opinions. 

Sophomore Salma Abdel-Karim said she believes people should stand for the pledge to honor our country.

“When we stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, we honor our country, the United States of America, and vow to be loyal to it,” Abdel-Karim said. “I stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because I think that it represents all of us and how we strive to stay loyal and protect our country.”

Students have expressed that they believe that the pledge is untruthful. 

When it is said, “for liberty and justice for all,” several students said they do not believe this claim is represented for all U.S. citizens. 

“There are many civil rights cases that you can look back on and compare, and it’s clear that there isn’t justice for everyone,” Harris said. “You can put two people in the exact same circumstance and get two completely different results, and in the courtroom, that shows there is not justice and liberty for all.”

Sophomore Cheyanne Greene agreed.

“Lately, it’s been occurring that people who are willing to be a citizen of this country are being immediately taken back to where they’ve come from, even though that’s what America is for,” Greene said. “It’s for freedom and to get a better life. Still, they are rejecting willing people to be law-abiding citizens.”

Victoriano said her family witnessed first-hand many of the circumstances students discussed.

“My parents didn’t have all of their rights because they weren’t legal citizens of the United States,” Victoriano said. “Because of that, they’ve had to go through a lot of discrimmintiation, and they’ve had to go through a lot more to become a citizen.”

The majority of students had similar responses when asked why they physically stood for the pledge when they didn’t believe what it said.

Every student said the only reason they stood is to avoid conflict with teachers and other students, and they feel as if they are required to participate in order to avoid negative consequences.

“The Pledge of Allegiance means nothing to me,” Victoriano said. “I don’t even say it. I just stand up for it because they make us do it.”

Not standing for the pledge is often viewed as a sign of disrespect.

Although the First Amendment protects your right to not stand, some students still feel as if people aren’t giving the country the recognition it deserves when they choose not to stand for the pledge. 

“It can be seen as disrespectful, because not standing for the pledge may show that we don’t respect our country,” Abdel-Karim said.

However, Harris doesn’t believe refusing to stand is offensive or disrespectful. 

“I don’t find it offensive, but only if a student is lazy or because they are going with the trend, that’s when it’s offensive,” Harris said. “If the student knows why they’re not standing, such as religion, then I don’t find it offensive.”

Students also questioned the religious tone in parts of the pledge, specifically the “under God” reference in the statement.

“It discriminates against students of different religions, and I think the school doesn’t take it into consideration,” Greene said. “Everyone is all too willing to get the students into trouble for not standing for the pledge, but they don’t take the time to ask whether they are comfortable with it or not.”