Barack Obama was speaking at a town-hall meeting at Baldwin-Wallace College Tuesday when he was interrupted by a guy complaining that he hadn’t asked the audience to say the pledge of allegiance. True story.
There are a handful of things Obama could have said in this situation. He could have said “Nobody’s allegiance is in question here.” Or he could have said “What are you, a fifth-grader?” Or he could have said “If you need forced pseudo-patriotic ritual to give your life meaning, there’s a Hitler Youth meeting down the hall.”
Instead he humored the heckler and invited him to lead the audience in the pledge. The heckler did so, the audience recited it with him, and there were no further incidents.
Naturally, I wanted to find out what make a grown man love the pledge so much. He identified himself only as John Q. Public, but I managed to pretend to track him down and make up this exclusive interview:
Runes: Mr Public, everyone wants to know: Why the pledge of allegiance? If you felt compelled to demand some group activity that reminded you of childhood, why not a game of dodge ball or a rousing chorus of “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”?
Public: Frankly, I was caught up in the spirit of the event. I just wanted to make sure everyone in the crowd was as loyal to America as I am.
Runes: And how did you ascertain that?
Public: By making everyone pledge their allegiance. With that simple act, I assured Mr Obama that he was in the midst of loyal Americans, and that he could speak freely.
Runes: OK, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but what if someone in the crowd was actually disloyal to America but attempted to fool you by saying the pledge of allegiance?
Public: Doesn’t matter. Once you say the words, your allegiance has been pledged. You can’t go back on it. It’s in the books. “All your allegiance are belong to us,” as the kids say.
Runes: So the pledge has magical powers, is what you’re saying.
Public: It helped us win the Cold War, didn’t it?
Public: I have to go now. My unicorn is here.