March 24th, 2004



William Safire's column today from the New York Times, about the Pledge of Allegiance takes a very curious position: He doesn't think "under God" should ever have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance, but he thinks the court should allow it to remain, because ... can you figure out why he thinks so?

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I guess he's saying that on the case's raw merits, "under God" should be removed, but that A) the father has no standing in the case because he didn't marry the child's mother and B) Taking God out of the Pledge now would be a 'slippery-slope' mistake.

Argument A is completely specious on its face. The issue needs to be resolved one way or the other independent of who brought suit. Denying the father standing doesn't decide anything. It just keeps "under God" without addressing whether it should be removed. Safire never says what Argument B actually means; maybe he's afraid they'll take "In God We Trust" off of money.

My personal opinion is that the Pledge of Allegiance, God or no God, is patently offensive. Demanding loyalty oaths of children or adults is completely stupid on its face. The only people that question other citizen's loyalty are those who question the loyalty of anyone that disagrees with them. It became an official part of US Law 1942, when the country was segregated, and Japanese-American citizens were being locked up in internment camps. If they were honest they would have taken "liberty and justice for all" out of the pledge at the same time. The "under God" phrase was added in response to a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization.

When I was in Junior High in the early 70s, I and several of my friends refused to stand and recite the pledge in school, as a sort of limp protest against the Vietnam War. The vice principal slapped me on the back of my head and hauled me up by my arm. I recited it a few times when my children were in Boy Scouts, so as not to embarrass them, but I've never felt good about the Pledge. When has this country ever been "indivisible?" Its very strength comes from it's endless divisibility, within the framework of the rule of law and civil society. And why is a flag deserving of such reverence?

Quakers refuse to swear oaths of any kind, since their only allegiance is to God. Since becoming a Quaker, I've always told my children they don't have to say the pledge if they don't want to. I don't know whether they've stopped; that's their business.

Still, I'm frankly surprised more people are not in favor of removing "under God" from the pledge. Even if you're religious, do you want religion to be a part of your government? This is all, in my opinion, part of a larger push by conservative protestant groups to make their brand of Christianity a de facto state religion, and I think it needs to be resisted at every turn.

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I may have mentioned this on LJ before, but apropos my last post, Separation of Church and State is a very interesting book about the subject. It seems as though "Separation of Church and State" has a very curious history:

To quote from the book blurb:
"[Philip] Hamburger shows that separation became a constitutional freedom largely through fear and prejudice. Jefferson supported separation out of hostility to the Federalist clergy of New England. Nativist Protestants (ranging from nineteenth-century Know Nothings to twentieth-century members of the K.K.K.) adopted the principle of separation to restrict the role of Catholics in public life. Gradually, these Protestants were joined by theologically liberal, anti-Christian secularists, who hoped that separation would limit Christianity and all other distinct religions. Eventually, a wide range of men and women called for separation. Almost all of these Americans feared ecclesiastical authority, particularly that of the Catholic Church, and, in response to their fears, they increasingly perceived religious liberty to require a separation of church from state. American religious liberty was thus redefined and even transformed. In the process, the First Amendment was often used as an instrument of intolerance and discrimination."

I love that last bit, it's so Orwellian. Or Ashcroftian.

kinda-sorta quiche

This is one of those - "hmmm what's in the fridge" dishes.

kinda-sorta quiche

1 bunch fresh brocolli chopped into small chunks
1 big-ass onion, chopped kinda fine.
3 (or so) cloves garlic
3 (or so) eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1 chunk of tofu
1 cup o shredded cheese (your choice)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
2 cups Corn Flower (Masa Harina, or Corn Flower)
Olive Oil
Salt to taste.

Chop veggies. Crush Garlic.

Get a wok on the stove on high heat. put in 1/4 cup or so olive oil. Swirl it around to coat the wok, and wait until it starts to smoke a bit. Dump the onions in, and stir fry. I try and get my onions a little browned. Once the onions are on their way to brown, dump in broccoli and garlic and stir a lot. You want the brocolli cooked to the point where it has given up some of it's liquid, but not mushy.

Remove from heat and set aside.

In a big bowl combine eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, tofu. The whole reason for the tofu is to cut the number of eggs, so it's lower in calories and cholesterol. Tofu has a good texture in stuff like this if you break it up. The softest tofus can be pummelled into an egg-salad-textured goo, which blends well with the eggs, but any tofu would work.

In a smaller bowl, combine the corn flower, 1/4 cup olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. It should mix down into a crumbly sort of dough. Add water and knead until it just hangs together. Digression: Masa Harina is white corn flower, usually used to make tortillas. I prefer a yellow corn flower, more like extra fine corn meal. I don't recommend corn meal -- use wheat flower if you don't have corn flower.

Grease a 9x13" pan (or something roughly that size). I have a pump up spray thinger so I spray on olive oil. Smash corny dough into the bottom of the pan. You can push the dough up the sides of the pan to make a full crust if you like.

Use a slotted spoon to get the vegetables out of the wok, leaving any juices (aka pot liquor) in the pan. Combine the vegetable stuff with the egg/tofu cheese mix.
If there was any liquid in the pan, drink it. It's good for you.

Spread the eggy-tofu-y-broccoli-y mess over the corn flower crust. Sprinkle some more cheese on top. Bake at 375 until the top is just starting to brown a little bit. Eat.

We all found this to be filling and tasty without being as rich as a quiche. The corn crust has a different 'mouth feel' than a flour pastry crust. I recommend garnishing with your favorite hot sauce.

You can put literally anything in a dish like this, and add herbs etc to taste, though there's something to be said for keeping it simple.