I want to give Lily SanGiovanni 1,000 high-fives


By way of the Portland Press Herald:

Senior class president Lily SanGiovanni sparked community outrage in January when she changed the way she invited students and faculty members to recite the pledge.

“At this time,” SanGiovanni said over the intercom, “would you please rise and join me for the Pledge of Allegiance if you’d like to.”

According to the article, the move was met with some praise. And because the Internet is where everybody engages in well-balanced, unemotional conversations about pressing matters, some folks freaked out about the move on social media. Basically, bigoted America is going to Hell! garbage. Grumble Grumble. And less than 100 people liked one articulation of rage in particular, which clocks in at about a Corey Feldman on the celebrity scale of going viral.

SanGiovanni offered her rationale for the move:

“The reference to ‘under God’ makes us uncomfortable because it’s a public school. It has nothing to do with our patriotism. We really want to enlighten our students. We believe they should be learning what the pledge actually means and choosing (whether) to say it.”

And so it sounds like SanGiovanni is honoring the American approach. An approach that is, you know, actually American by offering the freedom to choose, particularly when it comes to reciting a socialist-authored pledge—which is still a weird concept, no matter how close you hold this particular pledge to heart—that caps off with a tip of the hat to God.

But maybe Freedom’s just another word for being pressured into making a public display of allegiance to idols and to all the magic and glory for which they stand. Nope, that’s Catholicism. Americans, particularly the ham-fisted jingoists, hold “freedom” and “liberty” up high as the ultimate value, virtue and aspiration. “If you’d like to” is a real, honest to goodness honoring of the choice that freedom implies. The pledge isn’t what makes the notion of this country worth celebrating or fighting for, it’s the choice we have to engage with it. SanGiovanni gets that. What is the excuse of those that don’t?

Keep up the great work, Ms. SanGiovanni.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.