Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I have a personal vendetta against people who will insult you and, when you respond, say “Oh, don’t be so sensitve,” or “It wasn’t a big deal.” So when a local columnist recently used 500 words to tell us that Michael Newdow’s fight against “under God” in the pledge of allegiance was unimportant, I felt I had to comment.Instead of spending the rest of his column telling us what really did matter, he used most of the rest of 500 words to rail against why Newdow is being just too damn sensitive.

I thought about submitting it or sending it, but then I remembered- personal publishing!

I mean, this is the United States of America, right? So why should we let some guy and some court tell us what we can say?

But the way I see it is this: Here’s a man who was told that he can’t raise his daughter, for whatever reason. The state has told him that he cannot spend the necessary time with her to teach her his own values and views of the world. But then he realizes that everyday, when she goes to school, the State imbibes in her a religious view of the world. The State tells her that we exist “under God,” something that he ferverently does not believe in. It’s not that he’s not sure if God exists; he believes that there is no God. For the State to be instilling values in his daughter when her own father cannot—-you might be able to see why the man objects.

Nobody wants the government to tell their kids what to believe, when it comes to religion, right?

I actually first heard the local column when it was read over a morning radio show that I sometimes listen to. After reading the column, the hosts played a snippet that extrapolates the meaning of each of the words of the pledge. Funny thing, he repeats the pledge at the end with the complete phrase “one country, indivisible” without our little two-word controversial phrase. But he comments on that later, saying that two words—-and two states, so you can tell when this was originally made-—had been added since he first made his statement. And he asked, wouldn’t it be sad if those two words made the pledge a prayer and, therefore, not allowed in schools?

Yes, wouldn’t it be sad, if—-by logrolling two little words into the pledge of allegiance—-the pledge were basically, vetoed from our State-run schools?

One might argue that the problem isn’t the pledge, it’s those two words.

Without those two words the pledge is actually a nice little code to remind us of the structure and function of our country. It is made up of individuals, states, representatives; it stands for liberty and justice for all.

That’s the pledge of allegiance as it stood before the Cold War era, and the need to differentiate ourselves from the Communists. The phrase “under God” was added at that time, and there are plenty of things during the McCarthy era that our country is no longer proud of.

So why, in these times of religious zealotry—-and I don’t mean the Christian Right, I mean the terrorists of 9/11—-why in these times of religious zealotry, should our country continue to insist that it acts under God’s power? That we act in God’s name?

Our country, as a whole, does not believe in the God, a god or gods; we believe in the freedom to practice religion. We believe in the right to go to midnight mass, to go to temple on Saturdays, to rock out with modern protestants, to worship at the mosque, to stay home and watch football, or to say out-loud, “This is something I don’t believe in.”

So why should our country tell us what our relationship is with God?

enh, mostly just blowing steam about stuff I know little about...
Beyond the "under god" issue, I still might find fault in the Pledge. Why? It's requiring youths who don't even have political rights yet to "pledge" to a country and government that they won't even begin to understand for decades. It's indoctrination, plain and simple. Not that this country isn't worthy of allegiance, but I'd suggest our leaders behave in a way that merits allegiance, and that students and citizens be allowed to make their own decisions about their allegiance. If our leaders are doing things properly, morally, justly, equitably, and respectfully, then the overwhelming majority will choose allegiance without any propagandizing.
You write!

They may not have political rights yet, but they have political privileges. They are already benefiting from (and otherwise being affected by) living in the country. For instance, if they're saying the pledge, they're more than likely attending a state-funded school. If they're born here, they're citizens and have SSNs. There is no widely given baptismal option to become a citizen...

If pledging allegiance (not just reciting some sentence) to one's country were really as fluid as you propose, the US population would change every four to eight years. Allegiance is partially a vow of loyalty, which does not require a 1:1 ratio of acts:benefits.

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