Kenneth L. Hardin: I pledge allegiance to the United States of hypocrisy

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2022

Seventy-one, thirty-five and thirty-one words —  words that are supposed to represent loyalty and commitment to this country. And 106 of those words are spoken by men and women who have been entrusted to ensure this nation operates with integrity. They repeat these words in an oath of office to bring truth to the freedom and values we’re going around the globe telling other nations we stand for and asking our sons and daughters to die behind.  Many in D.C. have failed us and so have millions of regular citizens who support a racist, former wannabe dictator. Wyoming Senator Liz Cheney said it best, “Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: there will come a day when Donald Trump is gone. Your dishonor will remain.”

I was never great at math, so I won’t pretend to do it here. Those numbers represent the words in the presidential and congressional oaths as well as the Pledge of Allegiance. The latter, those 31 words, is what I learned all the way back in elementary school. Even as a child, I took them seriously enough not to engage in any behavior that brought shame upon my country. I understood the significance of the pledge enough to realize it wasn’t a suggestion or a recommendation that I could adhere to if the wind blew just right or if my stomach weren’t upset that day. I accepted my pledge as a wide-eyed child and have done so many times as a responsible adult.  I did so knowing it was introduced on a day celebrating a murderous slave trader who discovered nothing, but still has a holiday named after him in October. After watching the first of several primetime editions of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, terrorist attack at the U.S. Capitol, everything about the former Racist in Chief and his Congressional acolytes’ oaths, along with that pledge, now seem so hypocritical. Maybe those 31 words, which debuted in 1892 and were adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942, should be revised a wee bit. It would be more honest if it read, “I pledge allegiance to the hypocrisy of the United States of America and for the arrogant hate inspired vitriol, which is allowed to stand in this nation, Godless, easily divisible, and with a lack of liberty and injustice for all.”

Before anyone urges me to “love it or leave it” and offers to pay for me a ticket back to where I came from (South Carolina), ask yourself why I should be silenced simply for loving this country more than you and wanting it to be the symbol of freedom and hope we promote it to be. I haven’t kept up with much of the progress of the committee for the same reason I don’t watch the Kardashians or other so-called reality TV. I don’t have the stomach for idiocy and nonsense. I became disillusioned early on when those elected to serve willfully and purposely ignored Congressional subpoenas and refused to participate in an investigation trying to get to the bottom of how and why this attempt to overthrow our government occurred. Some politicians even engaged in revisionist history saying it was a peaceful gathering and referred to the unlawful assembly of thugs and murderers as tourists. The height of my anger came when a repugnant few on Capitol Hill had the audacity to suggest Capitol Police officers, who bravely lived up to their oath that day, be arrested on murder charges for killing one of the female terrorists that stormed the building. She died the way a terrorist who is threatening our democratic way of life should. Had she been wrapped in a burka and hijab instead of blue jeans and a baseball cap, and her skin a darker hue, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Hypocrisy.

The fact that there’s even resistance and debate among our national leaders to determine if there was presidential and congressional collusion in the attempt to overthrow the government and murder our elected leaders is reprehensible. It’s equally despicable that a heinous and traitorous crime occurred on your watch, and you circle the wagons and deny the people the right to know if their elected representatives turned their back on their oaths.  Instead of welcoming the truth and restoring trust, you play party line politics, show arrogance and direct manufactured anger all to distract from accountability.

I’ll continue to place my hand over my heart and silently mimic those 31 words.  I do so because I believed in this country enough to serve it honorably. I see the potential we have to be a truly great nation, if only those entrusted to represent us believed it too.

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.