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DUANE PAUL MURPHY, San Clemente

A recorded video circulated around Facebook showed that during a recent remote meeting of the city council, Mayor Kathy Ward briefly turned off her own computer camera and Councilman Chris Duncan sat on what appeared to be an office chair in his own home with his own hand on his own front chest area while the Pledge of Allegiance was being recited by all other elected officials before agenda items were discussed in the session.

After the video was published, a significant amount of online comments included varied criticisms of both Duncan and Ward’s visible actions during recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, ranging from calling for resignations from elected political office to describing them as “schmucks,” “traitors,” or “worthless.”

I personally do not know the exact or specific reasons why Ward turned off her camera and Duncan sat on a chair during the Pledge of Allegiance. Quite frankly, who cares what they did during the Pledge since it is not mandatory by law?

Also, nobody should really care what they did during the Pledge.

Their own professional actions on public policies and local issues impacting the city right now and for the rest of their own term in office from post COVID-19 economic recovery to the toll road are far more important than whether or not they stand or act properly during the Pledge, which in my opinion is eerily similar to forced patriotism and nationalism, whether it is institutional, social, or cultural, almost similarly found in authoritarian and totalitarian countries such as North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, and China.

Personally, I probably would not stand anymore for both the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem during their renditions or recitations anywhere, anytime, or anyplace as long as institutional and structural injustices, inequities, and inequalities against any citizens who are social and cultural minorities continue to persist in our own society.

Public policy actions and being part of a representative democracy are more important in this local community than forced patriotism.

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