The Pledge of Allegiance

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thefiddler
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The Pledge of Allegiance

Postby thefiddler » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:48 am UTC

So this has been weighing on my mind for quite some time, actually, but what do you guys think about the United States' Pledge of Allegiance?

For those who are unfamiliar with it:
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.

Is this blatant brainwashing of our nation's youth? Does it instill patriotism?

We have to say it every morning, 2nd hour, over the announcements (which is during my Calc class). Everybody in my class, save one person (who sits with their arms crossed), gets up and recites it dutifully with their right hand somewhere near their heart.

Would the words mean more / have more of an impact were we not forced to mindlessly recite it every morning from kindergarten through twelfth grade? As for me, I think the pledge has lost it's meaning. I don't think about it when I say and and I certainly don't believe it.

Does this make me a bad person?

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Postby FiddleMath » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:59 am UTC

I always left out the "under God" bit, but I doubt anyone ever noticed. Now I wish I'd been the kid who sat there with his arms crossed.

Not thinking about it when you speak doesn't make you bad, exactly. It just makes you a sheep. :) It's ok, we're all sheep, most of the time.

I'm happy to be living in the USA, but I think that unconditional love of country (or corporation, or organization, or cause) is foolish. We may speak of them using the intentional stance, but they sure ain't people. I'm a big fan of what I was taught were the founding principles, but I'm unsure that they now weigh much. Then again, I don't root for sports teams, or have any school spirit.

Oh, and most of schooling is an awful lot like brainwashing. In particular, whenever people are chanting something, and not having fun, then brainwashing is certainly happening. If they are having fun, I still give it at least 50/50 odds.

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Postby thefiddler » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:04 am UTC

In all honesty, I feel no connection to America and no passion to go fight for it, in any way, shape, or form. I'd much rather be somewhere else than here.

And, yeah, we're all lemmings. Or sheep, if you'd prefer. I somewhat mumble the pledge, usually disgruntled from walking into class late because I had another argument with my locker (which, by the way, usually wins). ><

I really don't know what the purpose of the pledge is, or the purpose of reciting it every day. It doesn't instill patriotism, it doesn't make me a better citizen, so why do we do it?

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Postby FiddleMath » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:17 am UTC

Because that's what other schools do, and most (US, public) schools are terrified of changing anything, in case someone blames them for screwing up the kids, or a parent gets angry. A parent is a wacko if they question the status quo; they're a lone mother being persecuted by a giant government system if they question an action of a school that runs against the status quo.

As for why it got there in the first place, why not ask Wikipedia?

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Postby JuliaGlass » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:27 am UTC

We had to say it at assemblies in high school, but not every day during class. Many schools do have to recite the pledge every day, though, and that is kind of disconcerting. It's a ridiculous ritual with absolutely no meaning to anybody who is forced to say it every day.
I wouldn't necessarily consider it brainwashing, for the same reason I mentioned above. We say the words, and the words are empty. They are not going to make a difference in our lives.
If we do feel that way (extremely patriotic, unconditional love of country, etc.), it is not because of the pledge. It is because of our own experiences.
I disagree with the "under God" part, but the rest of it is just as bad. You have every right to be critical of your country, blind acceptance is how people get away with things that they shouldn't in our administration. In my opinion, it would mean a lot more in terms of patriotism if you were critical and questioning and still approved of certain aspects of the country enough to live here, than it would if you were completely accepting of everything that went on here.

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Postby Jakell » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:34 am UTC

As a youth, I took issue with the "under god" portion, but at the time did not have the tools or backbone to raise it as an issue. Once I have a kid in school, you can bet I will raise a ruckus (unless the problem has already been solved hopefully!).

I think I am ok with the whole brainwashing the youth in this "positive" manner. I do not think that the pledge trains kids with wholly unconditional love of America, I did not turn out that way. It may just give them the assumption that America is great, which is nice to have while young, before they have to deal with the more grimy details of the adult world. Mabye it is the sort of thing that they should get introduced to in a home/higherlearning environment.

Certainly, if kids do not want to say the pledge, they should not have to, and kudos to them for starting to be be critical of the world. Hopefully if they are at that point, they can appreciate their right to not be involved.
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Postby Gelsamel » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Isn't the "under God" part optional to recite? And even then, who the fuck cares? When I was not a christian anymore but my Mum still made me goto church because she didn't think I was old enough to decide I didn't get all pissy about it. I just tuned out or ignored it and had fun with my friends.

Again. who the fuck cares?
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Postby rachel » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:56 am UTC

I gave up on standing up for it, and for quite a while would get shit from most of my teachers. It should be personal choice whether or not you say the pledge, not something they force on you. And I certainly do not think that anyone (at all. ever.) should be forced into pledging their allegience to a country unless they fully plan on backing this country in every endeavour, right or wrong. Since I can't do that, I can't pledge my allegience. Sorry America, Sorry Americans, Sorry God (who everyone know is always on our side forever)
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Postby JuliaGlass » Tue Apr 17, 2007 5:57 am UTC

It might be optional, but that completely fucks up the whole "in unison" thing. :?

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Postby Gelsamel » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:01 am UTC

Who cares?

Aren't you Americans allowed to say
"Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck" as your pledge and not get in trouble for it?
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Postby JuliaGlass » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:02 am UTC

No, people freak out about that sort of thing. There might not be any serious consequences, but there are ANNOYING consequences.

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Postby rachel » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:05 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Who cares?

Aren't you Americans allowed to say
"Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck" as your pledge and not get in trouble for it?


No, we're actually not. You can get into serious trouble at some schools for things like that, anywhere from detention to out of school suspension. People apparently like to take America way too seriously. We are not even that great.
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Postby Gelsamel » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:07 am UTC

rachel wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:Who cares?

Aren't you Americans allowed to say
"Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck" as your pledge and not get in trouble for it?


No, we're actually not. You can get into serious trouble at some schools for things like that, anywhere from detention to out of school suspension. People apparently like to take America way too seriously. We are not even that great.


I meant legally.
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Re: The Pledge of Allegiance

Postby hermaj » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:49 am UTC

thefiddler wrote:We have to say it every morning, 2nd hour, over the announcements (which is during my Calc class). Everybody in my class, save one person (who sits with their arms crossed), gets up and recites it dutifully with their right hand somewhere near their heart.

Would the words mean more / have more of an impact were we not forced to mindlessly recite it every morning from kindergarten through twelfth grade? As for me, I think the pledge has lost it's meaning. I don't think about it when I say and and I certainly don't believe it.


I know what you're trying to say, but I'm not sure - to what degree are you actually forced, if there is a person sitting down not saying it? Like, are there rules of force in place and this person is defying them and faces consequences of that every day, or is everyone else just too afraid to assert their right to refuse and that's what makes you feel forced? I'm not trying to nitpick or undermine you in any way, I'm just really curious as to what actually goes on.

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Postby EstLladon » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:53 am UTC

Whoa! I didn't know this. As far as I know even the Soviet Union didn't do this kind of shit.

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Postby Aoeniac » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:51 am UTC

I had to do that the first time in 3rd grade I think.

Only we had a student from Canada so I got to hear... actually I'm not sure what it was. Maybe it was "Oh Canada". Whatever. I got to hear a Canadian version too and I never payed any attention to the pledge anyway.

If anything, it instilled me with a hidden hatred of archaic policies.
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Postby evilbeanfiend » Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:01 am UTC

interesting that you pledge allegiance to the symbol and then the thing it stands for.
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Postby Puellus Peregrinus » Tue Apr 17, 2007 8:12 am UTC

We had something like this when I was in boy scouts. It was the main reason I stopped going there. It is basically just a form of (self)suggestion.
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Postby mattmacf » Tue Apr 17, 2007 9:47 am UTC

Rock on Rachel! (and that dude in thefiddler's class too :wink:) I too was *that guy* in high school who would refuse to stand for the flag salute. I got shit for it for a while from both the class and teacher, although eventually they got used to it. I think hermaj makes a good point though; you're not actually forced to say the pledge, you're just pressured to by social standards. Obviously that kid who isn't standing for it is in the minority, and intentionally goes contrary to the groupthink behavior of the flag salute.

thefiddler wrote:Is this blatant brainwashing of our nation's youth? Does it instill patriotism?

We have to say it every morning, 2nd hour, over the announcements (which is during my Calc class). Everybody in my class, save one person (who sits with their arms crossed), gets up and recites it dutifully with their right hand somewhere near their heart.

Would the words mean more / have more of an impact were we not forced to mindlessly recite it every morning from kindergarten through twelfth grade? As for me, I think the pledge has lost it's meaning. I don't think about it when I say and and I certainly don't believe it.

Does this make me a bad person?

I agree when you suggest the pledge has lost most of its meaning and I certainly don't think it makes you a bad person. The only question I have for you is this. Why do you still say it?

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Postby kira » Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:02 am UTC

I don't really see the point in saying the pledge in school. If the main purpose of school is to prepare you for life (and it IS), how is taking two minutes out of valuable instructional time helping to prepare you for life? The only time you ever have to be able to say the pledge is if you decide to be a teacher.

That said, as an adult, saying the pledge is a totally different thing to me now. When I was younger, I never took any notice of the pledge or whether I stood up or not (nothing past "Under God is totally stupid!"). Now, when the pledge is being said, I feel vaguely unpatriotic if I am not at least looking at the flag with my hand over my heart.

Maybe it's brainwashing, maybe I just have the maturity now to consider things that I never considered before, but I think that having exposure to it as an adult is actually rather a good thing. It makes me reflect on my feelings about and relationship to the country. That being said, I STILL do not need to hear it every morning, thankyouverymuch.
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Postby damienthebloody » Tue Apr 17, 2007 12:03 pm UTC

no pledge is meaningful if made under duress.

when i was in high school in the states, i found the whole thing seriously bizarre. i didn't stand for it in most of my classes, which my classmates found unexpected, until i explained that it wasn't my flag, so i couldn't pledge allegiance to it.
my teachers also found that odd - one of them insisted that i stand, to show respect, which i thought was fair.
ultimately, while i was initially creeped out, the previous 12 years i'd spent at catholic schools, so i'd seen more than enough meaningless ritual to have it no longer frighten me.
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Postby thefiddler » Tue Apr 17, 2007 12:08 pm UTC

mattmacf wrote:I agree when you suggest the pledge has lost most of its meaning and I certainly don't think it makes you a bad person. The only question I have for you is this. Why do you still say it?

Why do I still say it? It gives me a chance to kind of think about other stuff while not getting shit from my teacher. Sometimes I don't say it but have my right hang vaguely near my heart. That works, too. And the girl that sits and glares is one of my best friends, who doesn't stand because she thinks the whole ritual is dumb. I'd have to agree, but the teacher stands in front of her and doesn't see her, whereas he stands behind me and glares if I don't stand up. Since my grade hinges on whether or not the guy likes me, I'm not taking any chances. ><

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Postby Castaway » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:11 pm UTC

I don't really believe in patriotism, I think it's slightly bullshit, and that sentence means nothings. But if you find that particular quote especially calming, instilling, or whatever, then that's your perogative.
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Re: The Pledge of Allegiance

Postby Andrew » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:29 pm UTC

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.


Well for a start in badly needs updating.

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Postby Vaniver » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:45 pm UTC

It should be personal choice whether or not you say the pledge, not something they force on you.
It is. And it's the choice of your teachers to berate you for it, and well within their rights.

Whoa! I didn't know this. As far as I know even the Soviet Union didn't do this kind of shit.
It would surprise me greatly if the Soviet Union did not have some analogue to this; but I believe we are the only Western democracy that has a pledge of this nature.

no pledge is meaningful if made under duress.
Again, if you think that getting a nasty look or harsh word from your teacher is duress, you are probably mistaken about the nature of duress.


Personally? I'm not a fan of the pledge. I feel that it's not a solid replacement for an education or class that actually instills patriotism. That said, I feel that there's too much "oh, America isn't that great" for schools to not have a counterpoint. It's a problem that the counterpoint is a daily pledge instead of something more rigorous, but I don't think the pledge does more harm than good.
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Postby Belial » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:51 pm UTC

Again, if you think that getting a nasty look or harsh word from your teacher is duress, you are probably mistaken about the nature of duress.


When you're six, that's probably all you need. Looking back on it, as an adult, the condemnation of some school teacher and some kindergarteners doesn't seem terribly scary, in fact, it's pretty laughable, but when you're there, and you have no experience with anything worse, and absolutely zero perspective, you might as well be facing down a couple thousand persians while inappropriately dressed only in metal underwear.

Honestly, I don't think I gained *any* kind of perspective on school until I was very well outside of it, and had put a few years between me and it.

Personally? I'm not a fan of the pledge. I feel that it's not a solid replacement for an education or class that actually instills patriotism.


Classes shouldn't be instilling anything but education. If you read about american history and it makes you feel patriotic, awesome. If you read about it, and it makes you feel that America isn't all that great, also good. Because America has made some pretty heinous mistakes that we like to sweep under the rug in the name of "patriotism". It's not up to the schools to decide what they want you to *feel* about your country. It's just up to them to let you know about it.
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Postby Shadowfish » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:53 pm UTC

I have been an atheist for most of my life, but under god was never the part that annoyed me. I always object to pledging allegiance to a flag. I would much rather pledge allegiance to the country than to some flimsy piece of nylon, but I'd prefer not to pledge allegiance to either.

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Postby Castaway » Tue Apr 17, 2007 2:57 pm UTC

I don't feel any particular allegiance to my country. It's kind of an asshole.
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Postby hyperion » Tue Apr 17, 2007 3:41 pm UTC

Castaway wrote:I don't feel any particular allegiance to my country. It's kind of an asshole.

Kind of?
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Postby Berge » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:08 pm UTC

This always bothered me, that in elementary school we were swearing a pledge to be loyal to the country, before we were really capable of critical thinking. But of course, no one takes it seriously. And also, being that everyone is compelled to say it, its hardly binding.

I wish we'd still been forced to recite it in highschool, I definitely would have made a scene about it then.
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Postby Belial » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:10 pm UTC

I wish we'd still been forced to recite it in highschool, I definitely would have made a scene about it then.


Same. Especially the "under god" bit.
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Postby OmenPigeon » Tue Apr 17, 2007 4:22 pm UTC

The pledge itself may be meaningless to you, but recognize that it has meaning, and often great meaning, to some people. I find it horribly disrespectful to not stand during the pledge of allegiance, even though I don't recite it. Just like it's respectful to stand during another nation's national anthem, even though you don't sing along and the song isn't for you.

While I was in public school I stood for the pledge but rarely recited it. When I did, I think I usually used this version that some recently immigrated character in a book used:
I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and the republic, with witches' hands, one nation, in the gazebo, with little tea and just rice for all.
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Postby Vaniver » Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:57 pm UTC

When you're six, that's probably all you need. Looking back on it, as an adult, the condemnation of some school teacher and some kindergarteners doesn't seem terribly scary, in fact, it's pretty laughable, but when you're there, and you have no experience with anything worse, and absolutely zero perspective, you might as well be facing down a couple thousand persians while inappropriately dressed only in metal underwear.
See, really, no.

While I personally was lucky enough to go through my childhood with harsh words and some physical discomfort being the worst experiences I faced, I know people who were abused or underwent actual duress. I don't pretend that just because it was the worst I felt that it was bad.

Lack of perspective does not excuse itself.

Classes shouldn't be instilling anything but education. If you read about american history and it makes you feel patriotic, awesome. If you read about it, and it makes you feel that America isn't all that great, also good. Because America has made some pretty heinous mistakes that we like to sweep under the rug in the name of "patriotism". It's not up to the schools to decide what they want you to *feel* about your country. It's just up to them to let you know about it.
Patriotism has quite a few benefits for the state. I am not advocating that we teach every student to say "My country, right or wrong" as Decatur; but "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right" as Schurz. I am advocating than every pacifist spoiled by never knowing anything other than the distant sight of war know that everything their lives was built on was fought for and died for, and that this gives them a debt of respect, if not more.
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Postby 3.14159265... » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:03 pm UTC

We have to sing O'Canada in school every morning (Not in school anymore :D and :( )

The part where it goes
God keep our land, glorious and free.

I would sing along and say:

COD keep our land, glorious and free. Teacher wanted to make a fuss about it (stupid religious teacher), and was told to shut up.
I was asked to not be disruptive, I said it offended me.

Ended up getting permission to come to class 10 minutes late everyday :D
This was my morning class, so I thank GOD for that :D

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Postby Belial » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:06 pm UTC

Lack of perspective does not excuse itself.


But my contention isn't that being shunned by classmates and disapproved of by teachers is heinous and horrible compared to starving and abused children. My contention is that it's still duress. Duress is subjective. If, as a child, you don't have the perspective necessary to recognize that you have a choice, then something that would not normally be considered duress for an adult, or even a child used to worse treatment, is definitely duress for you.

The same can be said for, for example, sexual pressure. Which is why a parent propositioning their child is considered illegal and otherwise heinous, where propositioning some random adult isn't: Among other reasons, because the child does not have the perspective necessary to realize that saying "no" to the adult and incurring their displeasure is not the worst thing that could happen.

Patriotism has quite a few benefits for the state.


That's neat. Don't care. The state is there to benefit its people, not the other way around.

I am not advocating that we teach every student to say "My country, right or wrong" as Decatur; but "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right" as Schurz.


I would argue that everyone already has this. Many of them just think it's currently wrong.

(Edit: Actually, no, many people would just prefer to jump ship. And why not? If another country is better, and more right, and more liveable, why should I be loyal to this one simply because I happened to be born here?)


I am advocating than every pacifist spoiled by never knowing anything other than the distant sight of war know that everything their lives was built on was fought for and died for,


That's called "history class".

and that this gives them a debt of respect, if not more.


And that's where you've started to teach "values" in school. Which I disagree with. If, upon hearing about the history, people feel respect, awesome, but it still remains that it's not up to an educational institution to tell you how you should feel.
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Postby space_raptor » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:16 pm UTC

thefiddler wrote:In all honesty, I feel no connection to America and no passion to go fight for it, in any way, shape, or form. I'd much rather be somewhere else than here.

Similar comments have been made in this thread, but I picked this one as an example. Why do some of you feel this way?

Furthermore, why should your patriotism be tied to the actions of politicians? Everybody knows politicians are scumbags. The whole lot. Why use them as your measure when they don't really deserve it?
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Postby Belial » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:18 pm UTC

Furthermore, why should your patriotism be tied to the actions of politicians? Everybody knows politicians are scumbags. The whole lot. Why use them as your measure when they don't really deserve it?


Because politicians are the face of the country, and the ones making all the decisions about it?
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Postby fjafjan » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:24 pm UTC

Well, they, and people with large financial resources, even if they are not elected, they are certainly important in the effect a nation has over the world.
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Postby space_raptor » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:32 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Because politicians are the face of the country, and the ones making all the decisions about it?

So they're bad. They offend you to the point where you don't care about your country and you would rather be somewhere else?

I think there are more constructive ways to deal with not liking politicians. America is a big country. Surely there is something to be proud of?
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Postby Belial » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:37 pm UTC

Sure. But maybe there's a pretty long list of other countries that you could be even more proud of.

Some people just don't grasp why they should be particularly loyal to a country just because they happened to be born there. I tend to be one of them, off and on.

Edit: You know, it's funny, you can get no end of shit for saying 'I'd rather live somewhere other than america', but americans accept the fact that there are tons of immigrants trying to move into america from other countries. Why aren't these people being given the 'why aren't you proud of your country' speech?
Last edited by Belial on Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:44 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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