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A professor's op-ed for the Washington Post slammed the Pledge of Allegiance as "an instrument of white nationalism."

"While the language contained in the pledge is not overtly nativist or xenophobic, the spirit that animated its creation was steeped in this sort of bigotry," wrote Christopher Petrella, American cultural studies professor at Bates College.

Protests of the pledge are "necessary," he said, and defending them on free speech grounds is not enough.

"While defending pledge protests on free speech grounds is useful and necessary, it often draws attention away from the pledge’s political origins in nativism and white nationalism — roots that help us better understand the broader struggle for racial justice and full citizenship that drives these protests," Petrella said.

Francis Bellamy tapped into the bigotry of the times for his inspiration in writing the pledge, the professor said.

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