Saturday, March 01, 2008

Loyalty to What?

Here's a California story that made Commondreams:Quaker Teacher Fired For Changing Loyalty Oath

Now I'm glad I never found a job at the University , or Cabrillo College. It seems that anyone who works even marginally for the state, even as a contractor, must sign a loyalty oath to the united States and the State of California.

This is a Homeland Security requirement, no doubt, meaningless as it is. It serves only to put employees on notice that they are being watched and their loyalty is constantly being judged by the watchers, who, of course, are above suspicion.

Loyalty oaths were employed extensively during World War II and the Cold War in the United States, when they were publicly demanded of those accused of Communist Party membership. It was a public display of the power of the state, much as "confessions" and recantations were used during the Inquisition. Loyalty oaths gives the State an appearance of power over the lives of individuals.

It is only when individuals refuse to cooperate with the trappings of power that the illusion is shattered. The Quaker woman in the story above refused to comply and was summarily fired. She, of course, is just fine, having strong convictions and confidence in her own self-worth. It is the University and the State that loses in this transaction, demonstrating their illegitimacy and compromising their ability to attract and keep quality employees.

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