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Fire Away! by Dee Jay Gude
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The other day the Washington Times reported that Edward Myers, a software engineer from Loudon County, VA, has filed a petition with no less than the U.S. Department of Justice to stop Virginia school children from saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  He feels that the Pledge alienates foreigners and some religious groups and would like to have it replaced with something more "inclusive". The first thing I thought when I read about Mr. Myers' objection was, "Doesn't he have cows to tip?" The next thing I thought was, "Hey, maybe he's on to something." Once I get going, I can think of all kinds of things that crank me up - just ask my husband.

Mr. Myers suggests several alternatives to the Pledge: "America the Beautiful", "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the Gettysburg Address, to name a few. Well, I have a problem with that. The hate-speech in these alternatives is truly vitriolic and poisonous - not type of language we should force upon impressionable children.

America the Beautiful: Parts of America aren't particularly beautiful; therefore that song discriminates against people who live in unattractive locales. Slums, ghettos...PG County. Also, that "God shed his Grace on thee" line would have to go - insensitive to hair loss victims.

The Star-Spangled Banner: The first line is a deal-breaker - hostile to the visually-impaired.

The Gettysburg Address: Exclusionary. My ancestry is Irish, French and Indian - any forefathers of mine were too busy being killed to conceive any new nations.

In fact, now that I think about it, most of our symbols of patriotism are offensive. Take the American bald eagle, for example. Here we have a scavenger who steals food that other animals have caught or eats roadkill. What image are we trying to present here? Let's replace this outdated symbol of national laziness with Benjamin Franklin's original suggestion, the wild turkey. Or better yet, skip the bird altogether. It's discriminatory against other animals.

The American flag: The 13 colonies were over with a looooong time ago - isn't it time to get rid of them? Why do they get a star AND a bar, when the other 37 states only get a measly star? That hardly seems fair. We should redesign the flag so there's a star not only for every state but for every country as well. That way we can truly embrace diversity.

Smokey the Bear: Everyone knows that bears don't smoke. I may file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of our ursine brothers for defamation of character. I'm stunned that the PETA people aren't all over this. We need to rename this fire-fighting bear to something more contemporary and eco-friendly. I recommend Segway.

As a matter of fact, the very word "America" has such a negative connotation among some Muslim groups that we should stop calling ourselves that. Even our American cities are offensive - Boise, Idaho. Where is Girlsie, Idaho?

Hey! This is kind of fun - if you sit around long enough with too much time on your hands, you can find all kinds of things that make you mad! And since my Christm...oops, I mean Holiday shopping is done, I have LOTS of time. Now, about these trees that people keep cutting down and sticking in their homes...and the red/green color scheme that victimizes the color-blind...and carolers that don't know sign language...and the racially insensitive "White Christmas"...and...

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