Last Monday, the Eugene City Council debated a couple of topics, but the more heated one — the one which attracted vans from the Fox News branch in Seattle — concerned the Pledge of Allegiance and how often it would be said. With an amendment which only required the Pledge to be said at four meetings (the ones closest to Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Flag Day), the proposal to start saying the pledge passed the council by a 6-2 vote.
When this happened, I knew I’d probably be writing something pertaining to it, but hadn’t the vaguest idea in what direction to take it.
On Tuesday, that all changed.
On Tuesday, I received an email from a Rhode Islander sent to each member of the Eugene City Council, decrying the board’s flagrant mistreatment of the Pledge of Allegiance.
According to a Register-Guard article, published on Saturday, the email I got was just one of hundreds, and the fact that it was sent by someone in Rhode Island was not that outlandish.
The article said that a high majority of the responses to the council’s pledge debate came from outside the Eugene-Springfield area.
Now, I’d like to blame Fox News for this response as much as the next guy. After all, they were the only national press outlet giving this story the time of day.
However, I just can’t get past the fact that our city’s executive authority was — during a time of massive road renovation and in the middle of one of the most rapid growths in University attendance in history — discussing how often they would say the Pledge of Allegiance.
To be fair, the Fox News article written about the meeting got several things wrong. It neglected to mention that the council didn’t already say the pledge, so to say it four times each year would be adding, rather than subtracting.
It left out the context of Councilwoman Betty Taylor’s comparison of saying the pledge at the start of the meeting to saying the “Communist Manifesto,” leaving the opposition view nothing but a fringe opinion.
The fact remains, why were eight members of our city government discussing the pledge enough to take up a majority portion of a council meeting?
Further, the meeting started with discussion of a resolution to represent opposition to the Iraq War. Sure, the war is still going on, and it might say something if several cities were to somehow stop taxes from within their borders from going to fight the war.
But again, the futility just speaks for itself.
The initial Register-Guard article about the board meeting had a headline that read, “Pledge yes, War no.”
And the problem was that there was no problem with that headline. The board’s actions at that meeting were so based on hypothetical grandstanding that a four-word headline was enough to accurately and thoroughly describe it all.
If the board had not trivialized itself with pre-meeting procedure and political gesturing, it could have actually focused on things affecting Eugeneans. I know road construction isn’t the most exciting of topics, but it’s what I expect a city council to concern itself with.
And here’s why — it’s important, it affects literally everyone in the city, and it is one of the few things the council has sole jurisdiction over.
It is interesting that this debate happened so close to Independence Day. To you council members who pushed for a proposal to say the pledge at specified meetings, I hope you will take July 4 as an opportunity to say the pledge on your own time, with your family and friends.
When you wake up the next day, I encourage you to take the opportunity to drive near the University’s campus, the flagship university of the state, surrounded by corrupt landlords, blocks being demolished and rebuilt into apartment complexes and crosswalks blocked off by fences. Remember that it is your job to work on these kinds of issues.
The best part of taking my advice? There’s no chance of you being quoted by Fox News if you’re talking about demolition crews. @@ rhyme not at all intended, but appreciated in retrospect. @@