Fox Nation can be a weird and wonderful place once you learn to let go of things like logic and sense. On Monday's Fox and Friends, I got pulled into a fascinating drama over one town's apparent decision to "ban" the Pledge of Allegiance from its Planning Board meetings, which, when you back up a few feet, reads like a lost episode of Parks and Recreation.
The town in question is New Paltz, NY, a town with a population of about 12,000 people. F&F co-host Brian Kilmeade introduced the "Flag Day" segment (even though Flag Day is in June; I Googled it) by saying that the New Paltz Planning Board had voted to "ban" the Pledge of Allegiance from their meetings, and brought on pro-Pledge board member and former New Paltz Police Commissioner Amy Cohen to make her case, which included that "our veterans, our soldiers, our families of veterans, soldiers, and first responders, all appreciate it. And it takes so little time and it means so much to so many.”
Now, I don't know how you all feel about the Pledge, but I'm sure you've got some kind of strong opinion. Mine has always been generally anti-Pledge for a variety of reasons, but arguing it is so tiresome. I don't really care that much anymore, beyond doing whatever it takes to shut a shrill, jingoistic piehole so I can get on with my life.
When I was younger, my aversion to the Pledge was actually quite strong, and ironically had mostly to do with my religious beliefs. I didn't like mixing God with the World of Man, I didn't like it because it seemed like forced idolatry, and I didn't like it because my church had a strong teaching against rote, repetitive incantations. As an American, it also made no sense to celebrate freedom by compelling children to celebrate freedom.
But now, I mainly just want the screeching to stop. That's why I found the video of the New Paltz Planning Board's Pledge of Allegiance debate so thoroughly charming. There wasn't any screaming, and the characters, from Cohen to resident knee-jerk liberal Lagusta Yearwood, to ambivalent Lyle Nolan, to gruff but sensible Board Chairman Michael Calimano, were so clearly-drawn. Here are a few highlights from the four hour meeting on March 14:
Nolan: I don't think making anybody pledge anything has any meaning whatsoever...it's not a binding contract, it doesn't do anything. To me, it's a total waste of time.
Yearwood: I agree with Lyle, I love this country and I don't see any reason to say a pledge to it, I think that's opposite to the principles that this (singsong) country was founded on.
Calimano: I will vote for saying the Pledge of Allegiance if we all agree to at least stand and face the flag.
Yearwood: As a child of a child of the sixties, I was taught to not do that.
The video is confusing, because only four out of the nine people raise their hands to vote down the Pledge, but apparently, two of them are just extra, so the motion carried on a 4-3 vote.
The thing is, they weren't actually voting to "ban" the Pledge of Allegiance, because they already weren't saying it during meetings, a fact that Fox News predictably glossed over, as well as the fact that Calimano, who voted against the Pledge of Allegiance, is, himself, a military veteran.
What's fascinating, though, aside from the fact that Amy Cohen appears to have pressed this issue for the sole purpose of blowing up her board's spot on Fox News, is that this is apparently an ongoing drama in New Paltz. In October of 2015, a bunch of people disrupted a different New Paltz Planning Board meeting, which is apparently a thing that people in New Paltz go to, by standing up and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance like they were singing La Marseillaise in Casablanca. Chairman Calimano's reaction is pure, unadulterated, hilarious awesome:
All that's missing from that is a mic drop.
Since they're big stars in Fox Nation now, the good members of the New Paltz Planning Board are probably going to start getting all kinds of rage emails, but here's hoping they take comfort in knowing that they have at least restored some of my faith in this beautiful, weird country.