Monday, February 07, 2011

Wrapping up The Great Debate

I had great fun sparring with Mike Waters over whether or not the Pledge of Allegiance should include the words "under God" in it. Ultimately, of course, I don't think either of us convinced the other - but I think we certainly provoked a few thoughts.

I have to admit that I think supporters of the phrase 'under God' are a little too complacent for my liking. A few of Mike's comments - like "Should then the will of the 90% be bent to that of the 10%?" and "There is a certain amount of adapting that must be undertaken by those who choose to live in a Republic such as ours" left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. The majority denying the rights of the minority isn't an American value - it's tyranny.

In this instance, it's a very minor tyranny - as an atheist, why should I get bent out of shape by the words 'under God' if I don't even believe in them?

Well, it's largely because they're included - artificially, at the behest of McCarthy and his thugs - within the context of words I do very strongly believe in; the Pledge of Allegiance.

When I repeat them, 'under God' takes something away from the veracity with which I pledge my loyalty to this nation; and that's unacceptable.

I challenge Mike and other supporters of the 'under God' fallacy to look at it from my perspective. Imagine that tomorrow, Obama nominated a radical judge to the Supreme Court and he ruled (correctly) that the words 'under God' in the pledge were unconstitutional, and additionally ruled (incorrectly) that they should be replaced with something expressing the secularism of American government:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation wherein no God has recognizance, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Would Mike be willing to make that pledge then?

To my mind, an interpretation of American history could legitimize that phrase; to clarify that American government is not based on Christianity, or any other religion. But would Mike be willing to put his hand on his heart and make that pledge if he was called to?

[And, by the way, conservatives concerned that the Supreme Court should do such a thing NEED to read conservative Mark Levin's very well-written book on the subject - Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America. I think it's a little one-sided - 'legislating from the bench' goes both ways - but it does raise the very serious question of how much power the supreme court wields, uses and abuses. Editorial Bear]

I don't ask this because I'll ever think Mike will have to do such a thing (although Glenn Beck hints that this is the sort of thing that'll happen under Obama's administration.) I ask it because this is the dilemma I face when I make the pledge.

For all of the intelligence and eloquence of Mike's post, I can't help but think it's very blinkered. His belief system is being massaged - mine is being mauled. If the situation were reversed, I think he'd feel as passionately against this wording about I do about that wording.

I challenge him - and those that support his position - to think of it from a different angle.


J.M. Waters said...

Roland, I have very much enjoyed today and look forward to (hopefully) many more editions of "The Great Debate." as always, you were eloquent and thought provoking.

One of the many things that makes America such a wonderful place is the freedom for two people like us to openly express our views without fear. What an amazing and unique thing this American Experiment is!

While I do not retract anything I have written today, I do think my "90% comment" could have been phrased a bit better. Maybe this is another debate, even so, are we not a Nation that honors the will of the majority while protecting (even defending) the right of the minority to voice their opposition?

Cheers my friend! Well done!

Roland Hulme said...

Mike - here's to many more great debates to come!