SAN ANSELMO (KPIX 5 ) – The mayor of a Marin County town expressed his opposition to President Trump by forgoing the Pledge of Allegiance at a council meeting.
The decision drew a heated reaction and raised the question: What does it actually mean when you recite the pledge?
At the last meeting of the San Anselmo town council, Vice-Mayor Brian Colbert thought something seemed different.
“And we went through and I thought to myself, we didn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance,” he said.
That was no accident.
“Reciting by rote, the Pledge of Allegiance tends to reinforce obedient behavior,” said Ford Greene, a civil rights attorney and newly-installed Mayor of the town.
Greene is no fan of Donald Trump. As a council member he has been taking a knee during the pledge for years now. So, in his first meeting as Mayor two weeks ago, he simply skipped over the pledge altogether.
Greene’s decision to do that isn’t only about President Trump.
“Oh, for the record, this is absolutely, uh, well, it’ actually no, it’s not about Trump,” said Greene. “It’s about being so weak as to submit to Trump without a fight,” he said.
But some in the traditionally-progressive area object to that interpretation of the pledge.
“I don’t pledge allegiance to the president. I pledge allegiance to the country,” said San Rafael resident Dana Thelen. “And that’s my concern — that the country is starting to fracture and I think we need to hold together during this really, really difficult time.”
Greene believes most people never really think about what they’re reciting and says he wanted to start a conversation about that. But Vice-Mayor Colbert says ditching the pledge was not a decision he should have made on his own.
“At the very least, Ford shouldn’t have embarked on this personal odyssey in this way, without engaging the community on it,” Colbert said.
Greene admits it shouldn’t have been done without discussion and says, even though the pledge had been left off of Tuesday evening’s agenda, he intended to temper his position on the matter.
“It may well be that people want to say the pledge. Then I’m certainly not going to stand in the way,” he said.
Just don’t expect him to lead it. Greene understands that his decision angered some people but he says if it causes them to think about what they’re reciting, he’s okay with that.
The issue of the pledge will be formally discussed at a council meeting in February, and some members are suggesting the pledge could become a mandatory part of future meetings.