bigjohn

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No swearing please. We’re …

Posted by Big John on March 13, 2008

Amongst all the old cobblers about ‘Britishness’ recently ‘spouted’ by Lord Goldsmith and his mates, is the un-British suggestion that young people should swear some kind of oath of allegiance

Now as someone who would never take any sort of oath to ‘er Maj or swear on any kind of holy book, I have to say that there is something ‘sinister’ about this idea of taking oaths in general.

Oath taking always reminds me of secret societies, creepy ceremonies at midnight, men dressed in white sheets and ‘wiseguys’ getting ‘made’.

However, I’m sure that Lord Goldsmith envisages some American style ‘hand on heart’ oath with words like …

“I promise to do my duty in love and loyalty to the Queen and our flag.”

OK, so lets ignore the fact that half the little buggers leaving school wouldn’t know who the Queen is, let alone know where to place their hand, and assume that they were able to mumble the above oath without adding “yer know wha’ I mean?”. Well that wouldn’t be too ‘sinister’ would it ?

Perhaps not, but that same oath was once taken by another group of young people, except that oath included the word ..  ‘Führer‘ .. instead of the word ‘Queen’. It was, in fact, the oath of allegiance of  .. ‘The Hitler Youth’, and we all know … 

…  what good citizens many of them became.  ;-)

7 Responses to “No swearing please. We’re …”

  1. Longrider said

    My teens aren’t so distant that I cannot recall how I felt and behaved. My reaction to this would have been a firm refusal to cooperate. I swear allegiance to no one. The whole thing is distinctly un-British.

  2. Ginnie said

    Ex-governor Spitzer (of New York) swore to get rid of all corruption in the state. HA! …and turned out to be as corrupt as all the rest of the politicians. Now he has been forced to retire and I wonder if he even realizes the hypocricy of it all.

  3. Maria said

    As longrider said, “It is so un-British.” Well, it is “so American”. Something to do each morning before school starts, before baseball games, and some social meetings, particularly those that have some connection with the military. As a teacher, I spent lots of time teaching what the words meant and why they are important. Do you think my students remembered? I hope so, but I am not sure.

  4. I am not a Quaker but I understand that Quakers do not swear oaths on the grounds that to do so implies that, without an oath, they might cheat. They rightly see that view as an affront to an honest person.

    An oath is surely the last resort and therefore a symptom of despair. If you and I agree to some transaction, we can sign a contract. Then if one of us fails to fulfill its terms, the other has recourse in law. An oath, on the other hand, is sworn when we know that there is no way of forcing the party swearing the oath to do what he swears to do. Originally, it was an attempt to frighten him into doing it by proposing that if he didn’t, God would punish him.

    These days, threatening God’s displeasure is about as effective as threatening the displeasure of the Tooth Fairy. Less, maybe. Putting that in words of two syllables, oath swearing is pointless.

    I was recently invited to swear that I would never accept an ID card. I am entirely opposed to ID cards but I will not swear for the following reason. As long as I am opposed to ID cards, I will not accept one even if I have not sworn. If ever I become persuaded that they are a good idea, then I will accept one, even if I have sworn I will not. In other words, in a world replete with unforeseeable outcomes, my conscience is my guide and oaths are consequently meaningless.

    Swearing allegiance to the Queen is fatuous. What counts is whether one behaves as a good citizen. If the monarchy disappeared tomorrow, that duty would remain unscathed. As long as you and I (and all the other yous and Is) behave well towards one another, the Queen can go hang without loss.

  5. I’m an old soldier so asking me to swear is an oxymoron,
    JWL

  6. Creepy said

    We had to swear an oath in Brownies and that was similar. “I promise to do my best and do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and help other people and to keep the Brownie Guide law” – and frankly, that had no effect on me apart from making me feel uneasy about swearing to God (because that’s bad, to swear) and struggling to remember it all at the time of my induction.

  7. A.H.Lippincott said

    Oh, come on, many Spanish sick and tired of nationalists (which is many many spanish) really admire Americans and British on this sort of things.

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