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America: Love It or Leave It By: Jennifer Kabbany
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, July 04, 2001

AMERICANS WHO REFUSE to say the Pledge of Allegiance do not deserve their U.S. citizenship. Tennessee congresswoman Henri Brooks and syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux, in a recent television appearance, expressed their disgust for the American Flag. These women take for granted Old Glory and all it stands for.

Some African-Americans, like the two women mentioned above, argue that allegiance to the flag would be a slap on the face to their enslaved forefathers. "It represents freedom to some people, but that freedom has eluded most African-Americans," Brooks says. "You’ll see ‘justice for all’ inscribed on the Supreme Court, but when you look at what is happening to African-Americans in this country, we have not benefited from that justice, that liberty."

When the Pledge of Allegiance is said in front of Malveaux, she says her reaction is to "stand, and even put my hand over my heart … but my lips can’t move. And in fact, my heart beats a little more rapidly when I hear those words because I think of them as nothing but a lie. Just a lie."

The complaints these women make ring hollow. African-Americans in this country have much more freedom and opportunity than in any other country in the world, especially Africa. And that doesn’t even include the special benefits African-Americans receive here, such as affirmative action and quotas. Certainly America’s past contains mistakes, but now African-Americans are doing just fine, as evident in Ms. Brook’s position as a state congresswoman or, for that matter, Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court and Colin Powell as Secretary of State.

To refuse to say the pledge because it represents slavery is also unhistorical. The flag as it stands now did not fly over antebellum colonies. Moreover, to quote David Horowitz, that stance "is insulting to the black Americans who died in the American revolution, to the 180,000 black soldiers who served on the Union side in the Civil War, to black soldiers who died in the Second World War and Korea, in Vietnam and in the Gulf War, and who did so because they understood very well that this country has served them, as African-Americans, because it’s given them the kind of rights that they do not enjoy in all of black Africa."

I take it personally when people like Brooks and Malveaux take their citizenship for granted. My father was born in Damascus, Syria. He came to the United States when he was 20-years-old in search of a good life. All he had was $200 and a dream. He worked very hard, juggling two jobs and school full-time, to make something of himself. He didn’t even speak English! The hard work paid off (as most hard work will do when it is done in America). He knows coming here was one of the best decisions he ever made. I wholeheartedly agree. Often, and especially during the Fourth of July season, I thank God that I am an American citizen, and do not have to suffer the fate of the Chinese or the Sudanese, to name a few. Had my Dad decided to stay in the Middle East, my life would be much different right now.

I appreciate the millions of American soldiers who have given their lives to preserve and protect our great nation. The blood they shed nourishes our democratic ideals liberty, equality and freedom. How sad then, that on the day we celebrate America, there are those who disgrace our fallen soldiers’ memories, indeed our country, by refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Some people object to the "one nation, under God" stanza. But it is there for a good reason.

Francis Bellamy wrote the pledge in 1892 without the phrase "under God." In 1942, Congress voted to officially recognize the pledge. The reference to God came about in 1954 as a result of the Cold War. It was added to garner support against the godless Communists.

Then-president Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the addition: "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war."

The saying "one nation, under God," reminds us why we fought so many wars against Communism. As a nation, we believe that God is on our side, no matter how many leftist professors, writers, politicians and special interest groups try to change that fact.

I am not in favor of forcing people to take the pledge, by law, as some Virginia legislators are now debating. But I urge anti-pledgers to leave the country of their own free will. If you hate America, why live here? Of course, they will never leave, because they know America is the greatest country in the world.

Millions of people flee their homelands each year and try to move to the United States. And when they get their green card, they proudly and happily recite the Pledge of Allegiance, because they know, like my father, how lucky they are to be able to say it as American citizens.

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