So, I'm in high school and everyday they lead the student body in the "Pledge of Allegiance", followed by a "Moment of Silence". And when I say "lead", I mean they say the first few words over the intercom, and then let the students mindlessly recite the words. So, because I despise nationalism and patriotism, am not going to sign my life away, and actually think about the meaning of those words people repeat, I don't say it.
So during le "Moment of Silence" people always tell me that I need to say it. Four people in particular have repeatedly started full-on arguments (which resulted in me being sent to the principal's office when I was only ever calm and respectful of them) about how disrespectful it is (especially to the troops), about how everyone needs to say the pledge, and especially about how if I don't like it I can just leave.
So at first I had just said "This is America and we have the First Amendment which 'allows' me this freedom to not participate in the recital of the Pledge", and a few times later I also brought up the subject of God. Then after a few more times I started bringing in facts about how the Pledge was written by a Socialist (which scares many people I know) as a way to indoctrinate children with Socialist, not liberal, ideals. That was blown off, as no one likes to hear the truth. Then I brought up the fact that the Founding Fathers actually despised the idea of a pledge as they believed it would only encourage Imperialism, National Exceptionalism, indoctrination and so on. Again, ignored.
But this isn't even my biggest problem with them attacking me for not repeating after teacher. It's the fact that they have all admitted to not even thinking about the words, where they are, or what they are even doing when they recite those words. The have said, verbatim, "I just let my mind wander off". So it doesnt even fucking matter to you!? On top of that, I have asked "well then, how often do you say the pledge?" and the answer at first is always "Every day, I love my country." ... Really? Every day? What about on Fridays (I don't know why Fridays are special), Half-days, or days where there is standardized testing and we aren't lead in the pledge? What about Saturday and Sunday? "Oh, no I don't do it those days." .... At this point, I just argue that brushing one's teeth is more important to them than the pledge is, as they actually do brush their teeth twice a day every day.
Every single time it ends up with the others arguing that:
"Soldiers died so you could have that right, so you need to respect that and say the pledge". No, those soldiers died because this country declares war so that profiteering companies and politicians can get even richer. If any one of them honestly thinks they are "protecting" my rights, they are full of shit.
"Well that part about God doesn't even matter". Yes, it does. It was never in there until after it had already become popularized and accepted on the national scale. Adding in "under God" was specific make sure that the 80 plus percent of "good" Americans knew that America is a Christian nation. It was also specific to the Second Red Scare when Socialists, Anarchists, Communists and others were all seen as "Godless devils who would destroy American families at gunpoint".
Then, when I bring up what the words actually mean, they always say "No, you're over-exaggerating, it doesn't mean you swear to kill people from other nations. It's just patriotic." Essentially, it boils down to a) people don't even care or think about the words when they repeat after teacher AND b) it doesn't mean anything anyways. If that is true, then why the fuck should I say it?
And this is in my fucking AP Government class. I've even had people tell me that "Well, you are free to have your own opinion, but at least be respectful and stand."
....DAFUQ?! How about you fuckers respect ME, my choices, and my politcal/religious beliefs and not attempt to force me to take part? Would you comply if I asked you to sit and keep your hands away from your heart while saying the pledge, in order to respect my beliefs? Of course not.
I only ever said the pledge when we were being taught to repeat after teacher in the first grade. After that, I looked in a dictionary and thesaurus, and realized that I never wanted to say it again.
TL;DR: People mindless repeat the "Pledge of Allegiance" without even thinking of the meaning or implications, disregarding the utter lack of respect for those of non-Christian faiths (while many of them are atheists themselves), and then use the dead soldiers who supposedly "protect and provide" the right to free speech as a way to attempt to guilt others into conforming as well.
Both my father and mother are in the military, and I can assure anyone that even my parents are not fighting to "protect" my freedoms. They do it because they have no other choice; they can serve in the military, or they can starve and die.