|GAWD AND COUNTREE
||[Mar. 24th, 2004|09:42 am]
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?|
( Safire's ColumnCollapse )
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.