Popular Culture

Neil deGrasse Tyson: “If The Pledge Of Allegiance Told The Truth…”


Neil deGrasse Tyson is great at creating a controversy. Usually, he’s at the center of one because he dared to say there is evidence of evolution, or to point out times when scientists have been persecuted and silenced by religious leaders. This time, though, he’s taking a poke at America’s current culture, and he’s aiming at a symbol many people hold sacred: the Pledge of Allegiance.

It was just one tweet, but it has generated a firestorm, with people telling Tyson he should leave the country, and calling him quite a few strong names.

Thursday morning, Neil tweeted an image of an altered Pledge of Allegiance, describing it as, “If the Pledge of Allegiance told the truth.”

The text of the image isn’t entirely new — people have been making political statements through Pledge of Allegiance parodies for quite a while. ‘Divided states’ and ‘liberty and justice for some’ are pretty frequent phrasings, clearly arising from the political divide in America, and from the disparity in treatment for minorities and those of lower social statuses.

Here’s Tyson’s rewrite:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the Divided States of America. And to the PACs, for which it stands, one Nation, at odds, divisible, with Liberty and Justice for some.

A quick analysis of the rewrite would suggest Neil deGrasse Tyson is not happy with a few things:

  • the political division in America
  • lobbyists and PACs carrying a lot of weight in government
  • petty squabbling (probably with words like ‘Repugs’ and ‘Libtards’ instead of actual discourse)
  • the freedom of some groups being given more deference than that of others

Of course, addressing those points is too much to expect on social media. Instead, Neil was:

  • called a ‘dumber than a bag of wet mice dullard’
  • told to leave the country
  • called a 12-year-old
  • told to stick to science
  • accused of ‘America-bashing’ to ‘be edgy’

Of course, “If you don’t like it, leave,” is a pretty common response to anything that hints at any problems with America’s current political culture, but the freedom to dissent is one of the key features of American government — so much so that when the founders amended the Constitution to add a Bill of Rights, it was the first thing they talked about.

Neil deGrasse Tyson might be saying things some Americans (especially those who benefit, or think they do, from the current setup) don’t like much, but there’s nothing more un-American than the sentiment that anyone unhappy with the government should either shut up or leave.

TELL US: Is Neil deGrasse Tyson just riling up the trolls, or is his point well-taken?

Steph Bazzle
Steph Bazzle is a homeschooling mom who likes to write about justice, equality, and religious issues.

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