the Michigan Daily
Thursday, November 10, 1988
Y JIM PONIEWOZIK
When his unibrowed poker face
first made its way onto my TV
screen, I would have scoffed at the
"thought of my having a single thing
'in common with Michael Dukakis. I
was right. I have two things in
common with Michael Dukakis.
1) I'm also 5'8" and don't think
'm a "shrimp."
2) We both have found out what
-happens when you mess with the
Pledge of Allegiance.
" It was a Monday morning much
like any other in Mr. Fannin's 9th
'grade biology class, and we budding
'ivisectionists were idly chatting as
we waited for announcements to
.'come over the intercom. At 8:00, the
speaker crackled to life with a "Good
morning" from the principal, Dr.
Randall. As the club meeting dates
and lunch menu drifted down from
his tired old voice to our tired young
ears, we braced for our favorite round
of mass indoctrination - the nation-
al anthem and the pledge.
Somewhere in the recesses of a
first floor office, a tone arm thunked
down on the grooves of a "Star-
Spangled Banner" recording. To some
senescent educator somewhere in my
hometown, this weekly event meant
that Monroe, Michigan, was safe
from the prospect of a Bolshevik rev-
olution for yet another generation.
To us, it meant having to stand up
for about two minutes and make the
"tsch!" sounds under our breath
where the cymbals were supposed to
After the anthem, the class in-
stinctively rose in formation for the
pledge of allegiance. All of the class,
that is, except my friends Tim,
Mike, and myself. It wasn't a con-
scious plan; it was more a matter of
our starting to rise hesistantly as
usual, and our eyes meeting at just
the right time to affect a collective
"naaah..." And amid the collective
irate stares of our classmates and Mr.
Fannin, we gave our feet a rest and
sat wearing the smuggest of grins.
As a pseudo-intellectual 20-year-
old who's taken philosophy, psych-
ology, and political science and thus
has a complete understanding of the
workings of the entire universe, I
could give you lots of reasons for not
forcing kids to recite the pledge. It
encourages religious intolerance (yes,
folks, that god it says we're under is
the same Mr. J. Hovah who rested on
the seventh day), it encourages blind
loyalty, it belittles its meaning - to
name a few.
As a restless 14-year-old,
just say it was stupid.
Unfortunately, I picked th
time to make my stand. It w
1983; jingoism Reagan-sty
still in full swing, we were
ourselves against the evil beh
of Nicaragua and Grenada,
"Hey Iran" stickers (showing]
Mouse giving the finger
unpictured Ayatollah), still
many of our bumpers. To
high-schoolers, America was
dude, and thus it was even c
beat the tar out of little Tro
like yours truly.
Marc Prucka considered1
up to said challenge. Marc
was reasonably popular, un
ably dumb, and unbelievablyt
therefore a perfect scion of t
gan Youth. It stood to reason, then,
I could that as word spread outrage mounted
among my classmates, he would be
e wrong the one to decide to pound a sense of
as early patriotism into my head.
yle was According to the rules of the
girding Warm, Funny American Columnist
hemoths genre, this is the part where I decide
and the to fight it out with Marc, get
Mickey bloodied up a little, and emerge with
to an the respect of myself and my school.
graced Sorry, gang, but Russell Baker's out
junior of town. Instead, what transpired
gnarly, were a few of the worst months of
ooler to my life. I cravenly slinked out of ev-
tskyites ery possible confrontation with
Marc. I was called a "communist" by
himself kids I'd never met before in my life. I
Prucka was jeered by kids who didn't even
treason- know what the word "indivisible"
big, and meant.
he Rea- And I stood up for that damn
pledge every Monday thereafter.
So when I heard George Bush lay
into Michael Dukakis for vetoing a
bill requiring Massachusetts teachers
to lead their classes in the pledge, the
election was no longer George vs.
Michael. It was Marc vs. Jim. I saw
Bush appealing to the same animal-
ism that made me an outcast. And I
wanted so badly for My Fellow Am-
ericans to stand up for me now like
they didn't then.
Instead, they bought the ploy for
all it was worth. To the American
electorate, Michael Dukakis had
swiped our baseball, eaten our apple
pie, and smacked our mother, all in
one shot. And, Tuesday night, they
made their choice. But though they'll
see George Bush take the stand on
Inauguration Day, I'll see a big 15-
year-old who wants to beat me up.
Here's to you, Marc. It's your
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