Saturday, October 29, 2011

More Obama Doesn't Get It

Let's now talk about the second part of the petition I wrote about earlier.

In God We Trust on our money should also be removed. It would be easy enough to phase it out with new printings/stampings. Our national motto was E Pluribus Unum, Out of Many, One. This motto specifies that though there are many different individuals here, we are all Americans, which is a noble, inclusive, admirable sentiment. In God We Trust cancels that out completely. Only god-believing individuals are Americans. Not so admirable, not at all inclusive, and certainly not noble.

And to address the issue of our "proud heritage*," E Pluribus Unum was established in 1782, by ACTUAL FOUNDING FATHERS! There's some heritage for ya'.

I have been at a loss for years in trying to understand how seemingly intelligent people cannot see how the pledge (even outside of its jingoistic, flag-worshiping ridiculousness) and the NEW (not based on our heritage, but on our darker period of communist-hunting and fear-mongering) motto are unrepresentative of Americans as a whole.

A motto is defined in three ways:
A brief statement used to express a principle, goal, or ideal.
A sentence, phrase, or word of appropriate character inscribed on or attached to an object.
A maxim adopted as a guide to one's conduct.

When an American does not worship one of the three gods named "God," (specifically the god of Abraham - of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) neither the pledge, nor the motto includes that American. Therefore is does NOT express an AMERICAN principle, goal, or ideal. It does not express the character of all Americans. It cannot be a governmental guide to conduct without establishing the religion of the god of Abraham in violation of the 1st amendment.

Obama's spokesperson is apparently one of the "it doesn't hurt you, so just shut up" god-believers, unable to see through his privilege that being told we are not Americans is hurtful and insulting to non-believers and believers in other gods than Abraham's.

Take it off. It's easy enough. Heritage has no bearing here, as the heritages of both the pledge and motto include no references to Abraham's god, nor any other god(s).

*Using the word heritage in this context, besides being inaccurate, is like calling something a "cultural" thing in order to defend it. Like genital mutilation, for example, or suttee, or allowing only rich, white men to vote. Cultural, sure, but no less barbaric. Part of some group's heritage, sure, but does that make them good things that need to be continued? Should we put this photo on our money to honor our heritage of slavery? Should unrepresentative cultural traditions be memorialized and honored publicly, every day, and in every monetary transaction performed, or should they be relegated to history books as things that we used to do, but then we became civilized. "It's our heritage" people might want to think about that.

(1st Picture from Wikipedia - Suttee)
(2nd photo from Old Picture of the Day)

Obama Doesn't Get It

Not too long ago, I signed a petition to ask for the 1954-added phrase "under God" to be removed from the pledge.

At the link, you can read the official White House response. They just don't get it. Yes, a person should be free to pray or sermonize or proselytize in the public square. People do it all the time. Yes, a student should be free to pray or sermonize or proselytize at school. Students do it all the time. Harassment or disruption of class is, and should be, prohibited, of course.

However, there are two problems with the pledge itself.

1) Mindless chanting of a "patriotic" statement of flag-worship that students are taught to recite without learning what it means is ridiculous. But, they can't teach the students what it means without violating the 1st amendment. Leaving the "under God" part in establishes religion, specifically the monotheism practiced by the majority in the US. There's no getting around that. Students who are Buddhist, students who are Hindu, students who are pagan, and students who worship no gods at all would have to be taught that their religion, or lack thereof, is wrong and that the monotheism promoted in the pledge is right.

2) Until schools stop requiring the mindless chanting of the pledge, children who either don't want to mindlessly chant ANY pledge or who don't want to mindlessly chant something that specifically goes against their religious beliefs or lack thereof are singled out for ridicule and harassment unless they ignore their discomfort, compromise their integrity, and just chant along. Great lesson for the kiddies. Shut up about it or be singled out. Kids LOVE that!

The White House response inserts this from Obama himself:
Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters.
Well, yes. True that. But in the context of a public school classroom with students of many different backgrounds and worldviews, forced statements of flag-worship and monotheism-belief to a captive audience certainly seems to breach the wall of separation.

The White House spokesman writes, in regard to how "under God" in the pledge reflects our religious heritage:
We're proud of that heritage, and the strength it brings to our great country.
Fine, he can recite the pledge anywhere he wants when he doesn't have a captive audience of impressionable children with disparate backgrounds and belief systems.

As far as heritage goes, the pledge did not include any gods until fear of Communism made some influential Christians insist on adding it. So that argument is invalid and inaccurate. If people are so concerned with "heritage," we would be mindlessly chanting the original pledge from 1892:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
And we would be doing with our arms outstretched in the "Bellamy salute," which is identical to the Nazi salute. Great. Let's go back to that.

Better yet, let's just do away with the pledge in schools and leave it up to individuals and private groups to chant it if they want.
(PHOTO FROM WIKIPEDIA - Pledge of Allegiance)