Cal State Quaking Over Quaker

Modified Loyalty Oath

I’ve recited the Pledge of Allegiance more times than I can count. When I joined the military, I took an oath not unlike those taken by the President. The oaths don’t prevent anyone from dishonoring them, but they do remind those swearing them that more is at stake than simply winning an election or enlisting for military job training.

Our current President is a case in point. He swore oaths as a member of the Texas National Guard and as President and one could argue that he hasn’t exactly vigorously protected the Constitution or battled against all enemies foreign and domestic. However, every job doesn’t require a loyalty oath. We don’t require them of trash collectors or computer programmers, but some states require them of state employees.

McCarthyism Lives
A part-time teacher at Cal State University East Bay is, or was, one of those employees. The University fired her last week for modifying her loyalty oath to use the word “nonviolently”. Marianne Kearney-Brown is a Quaker who practices nonviolence as part of her religion. She didn’t refuse to defend the US and state Constitutions “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. She simply wanted to be on record as opposing the use of violence. She swore similarly modified oaths twice before as a teacher. The Sonoma County and Vallejo, CA school districts wisely accepted them without comment, a reaction that’s apparently a common practice.

Many of these oaths are from the McCarthy era. They didn’t make sense then and they don’t make sense now, except to addle-brained, unrepentant McCarthyites. They’ve become simply one more piece of bureaucratic paperwork to be largely ignored. There’s no compelling reason to require them of “regular” state and federal employees. We don’t make General Motors’ employees take them, why should a public school teacher be any different? For that matter, we don’t require them of foreign nationals - many of whom work in jobs much more sensitive than math teacher. The pretzel logic of Brown’s case suggests that we should require the foreign nationals to uphold a Constitution that isn’t even theirs or be fired.

Chicken Patriots
I’m sure some proponents of flag burning amendments and required flag lapel pin wearing would argue Kearney-Brown is some sort of dangerous traitor not to be trusted - someone who deserved to be fired because she, and her religion, refused to take up arms to protect and defend the Cal State University math department.

Those “patriots” - the same ones who probably don’t take an oath for their jobs and who routinely ignore ongoing attacks on the Constitution - would do well to emulate the patriotism of non-violent Quakers in wartime. In WWII, many Quakers helped defend their country by serving as unarmed medical corpsmen. These Quakers proved their allegiance to their country, and their religion, by helping wounded and dying soldiers. Those Quakers, like Kearney-Brown, took their oaths seriously - a decidedly brave and patriotic act.

If only Cal State East Bay and the states requiring these superfluous oaths showed the same common sense, we’d be a much stronger nation for it.


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6 Responses to “Cal State Quaking Over Quaker”

  1. steve Says:

    Still wigging over the name change from Cal State Hayward… though the new name would draw more freaks since it now appears it’s next to Berkeley… which probably would have not hired the person in question because she was a quaker…. so…. let the state figure that one out too.

    Why are we calling out the patriotism of those who ask for a flag burning amendment again?

  2. J. D. Hunter Says:

    FLAG, n.
    A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and ships. It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one sees and vacant lots in London — “Rubbish may be shot here.”

    -Ambrose Bierce
    (wiser than Cal State)

  3. J. D. Hunter Says:

    FLAG, n.
    A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and ships. It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one sees on vacant lots in London — “Rubbish may be shot here.”

    -Ambrose Bierce
    (wiser than Cal State)

  4. Omnipotent Poobah Says:


    I know what you mean about the name change. I keep having to fight the urge to call it Hayward.

    Actually, there are quite a few Quakers and pacifists in Berkeley so I’d assume they’d hire her. In fact, they’d probably have a march to support her…not that I’m saying that’s a good idea.

    And, I wasn’t trying to question the patriotism of the those asking for a flag burning amendment. I was just pointing out that I don’t think it is a big issue, just I thought the hubbub about Obama not wearing flag lapel pin was much of an issue. I don’t see either of them as patriotism issues. I view them more along the lines of making a big deal out of something to distract everyone from more important stuff.

  5. steve Says:

    Personally… I think a President should wear the pin or something that symbolizes our country in some fashion.

  6. rube cretin Says:

    i suggest our president’s pin should be of an asshole, because that is how the rest of the world see us today. In fact i believe it should be tattooed on his forehead. If you do not agree you have not been paying attention.

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