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Some thoughts on the Pledge of Allegiance

September 7, 2013

Tags: Pledge, stupidity, God

This from my friend Howard Pearlstein:

I was asked about this and this is what I answered -- my objection not religious but semantic...
 
*********
 I am not an atheist and I never cared one way or the other about daily bible readings in elementary school.
My objection to the insertion of "Under God" has always been that it defeated the purpose of the Pledge.
Consider this, syntactically:
When you say: "One Nation, indivisible.." you're saying this is one indivisible nation. One whole coherent unit. That we are all one people bound by a common ideal.
When you say -- even worse, change the assertion that we are all, regardless of individual difference, all one people, when you change it to:
"One nation, under God.." you are saying we are NOT all one people but a nation with conditions to membership, those conditions dependent on one's interpretation of that amazingly vague word with milliards of possible meanings depending on one's own set of life experiences, inclinations, biases and fears --- "GOD.".
The change of those words has, in my opinion, contributed to the fragmentation of America that has, coincidentally, become intensely problematic since the 1950's.
 Either change it back to the daily statement that asserts we are all one people, regardless of whatever belief system we have. Or dump it.

And this history of the pledge from Eric Arthur Blair

The original pledge (1892):

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."*

Written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist and Baptist minister**, it was intended to be recited in under fifteen seconds and be multinational***.

First change (1923):

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

This was done so the new immigrants wouldn't confuse their new flag with their old one?

Second change (1924):

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

This was done to, I don't know, differentiate these United States from all those other United Stateses.

After third change (1953):

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."****
Done, of course, to distinguish the US from all those godless nations out there, along with (at the same time) throwing out E Pluribus Unum as the national motto.
----- The asterisks --

*Originally accompanied by a raised-arm gesture that was changed in 1942 to hand over the heart because it looked too much like the Nazi salute.

**Since its author was a minister, why didn't he feel it was necessary to include a reference to a deity?

***It was also part of a marketing campaign to sell more flags (which were made in the US instead of China in 1892).  You can't get more American than that.

****The initiative to put "under God" in the pledge was at the behest of the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal organization which is sort of the Catholic

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