pledge

Lower Lake, CA — Over the past couple of weeks, Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem – and the solidarity shown by other players who followed suit – has brought the most fervent and irrational flag worshipers to a frenzy.

This misplaced rage is not only the province of football fans steeped in Miller Lite and Cheetos, but also some of those whose job is to educate the children.

A teacher at a Lake County public school district actually lowered the grades of two students who did not recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Their participation grades were lowered from five to three for not standing and chanting the words.

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She says that it represents the military and that they risked their lives for us,” said Leilani Thomas, a Native American student. “And I always tell her, ‘Well, my people risked our lives for our land, for our freedom. For our rights.

Because forcing children to blindly pledge their allegiance to a flag is freedom.

Since the first day of school, Thomas and her friend have exercised their basic right to not stand and recite the pledge. Apparently, the manufactured rage over Kaepernick’s behavior has affected the decisions of this teacher, who wants to force upon students the false equivocation of reciting the pledge and “respecting the troops.”

But Leilani is a very smart student – in spite of her teacher’s shortcomings – and she recorded her teacher’s explanation for lowering her grade.

“Here’s the deal. If you really, really have an argument and feel so strongly about, then I need to see it written out – your argument – in an essay form,” the teacher is heard saying. “Like, why? Why, because here’s the thing; those people, they’re not alive anymore. Your ancestors.”

This failed attempt at reasoning, of course, is no justification for lowering the grades of students who are exercising their constitutional rights.

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It’s bad enough that public schools present a whitewashed, alternative reality of history to students — where brutal Western European conquerors are presented as noble and righteous explorers who befriended Native Americans. This teacher seems to think modern U.S. wars of aggression and the slaughter of innocent Middle Easterners with drone bombings are good military deeds that must be respected.

Leilani knows the real history of her people, and she chooses to express it by not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

“It’s the reason, because of the history that happened here. On my land. My people’s land,” said Thomas. “I go by that and I don’t agree with it. So I’m not going to stand for the people who did this to my people.”

The good news is that the school district superintendent, after being given the recording by Thomas and her father, is standing behind Thomas and has moved her to another teacher.

The superintendent said in a statement, “Students don’t lose their First Amendment rights when they walk in the door. We are dealing with the teacher on this.

Thomas’ entire village will attend the next school board meeting to ensure the matter is not swept under the rug. As more students resist the false patriotism and allegiance to perpetual war being pushed in public schools, teachers cannot be allowed to stifle this awakening.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.