Just in time for Independence Day, guest-blogger Myron Pauli addresses the conflict between the Pledge of Allegiance, on the one hand, and, on the other, The United States Constitution. All patriotic Americans who have the opportunity to do so should read what Myron has to say.
My father and his parents were lucky to get to America from Nazi-run Austria, and my daughter was a refugee from China. So I certainly appreciate this country: Few are even as remotely free.
However, as another 4th of July approaches, I often feel compelled to criticize the lack of appreciation of liberty in this nation just as Moses felt compelled to rebuke the people he so loved.
The Pledge of Allegiance was introduced by a Christian socialist named Francis Bellamy in 1892. It even came with a “Bellamy salute,” which became commonplace in Central Europe 45 years later. Although the Constitution does not authorize an “official” Pledge and the 10th Amendment reserves those powers not granted to the Federal Government to the states and people, it was adopted by the Congress in 1942. Small children are indoctrinated to pledge even if they have no idea what the words mean. But aside from the salute, what does the pledge say?
From the time Americans are small children, they are expected to pledge their allegiance to both “the flag of the United States of America” as well as “to the Republic for which it stands [.]” Hold on! The pledge has 50 stars – which stand for each state. And what does Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution say? “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government”. Thus, the flag actually stands for a Republic of Republics—not “the Republic.”
The point, though, is that the Pledge is in contradiction to the Constitution itself.
If the “United States” is just singular, how does one explain Article 3, Section 3 which defines treason against the United States as consisting “only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies?” In pledging allegiance to the flag, do we pledge to violate the Constitution? Do the stars refer to some Greek Constellation?
Then, of course, we have the Constitution’s Article 6 Section 3. This expressly states that “no religious test shall ever be required” for those aspiring to hold office. But what does the phrase “under G0d” in the pledge denote if not a religious oath? To reconcile these tensions, must we resort to some Clintonism to the effect that we must ask ourselves the meanings of “oath” and “pledge”?
As for pledging to secure “justice for all,” familiarity with some contemporary events in the arena of racial politics makes a mockery of this. After all, since “black lives matter”, neither George Zimmerman nor Darren Wilson is entitled for a self-defense excuse because that would not be “justice.” The latter requires a conviction regardless of a grand jury or petit jury. In Baltimore, indictments were filed by Marilyn Mosby so “you can stop rioting”. Did keeping Jose Padilla imprisoned for 43 months without an indictment constitute justice for all? Did trying defendants in Federal Court for crimes they were exonerated of in State Court constitute “justice” in light of the fifth Amendment’s prohibition on double jeopardy?
Neither do we seem concerned about securing “liberty … for all.” Yet, in Minersville School District vs. Gobitis, the Supreme Court by 8-1 endorsed government punishment of children who refused to pledge (and this was when the Bellamy salute – ‘Seig Heil!” – was still standardized). How about adults? Yes sir, I pledge, under compulsion from the government, to support “liberty”! OK, the Supreme Court reversed itself a few years later when the US was now at war against a nation which mandated the same Bellamy Salute. Of course, we know how flighty the Supreme Court is. As for liberty in the nation with as many people in jail as in China and Russia combined, one might question whether we have “liberty for all”.
I have decided instead to proclaim: “I support the Constitution of the United States and the concept of limited government whose purpose is to secure our rights” as my personal Pauli substitute. Besides, one might even ask: To whom are you pledging? Is it Obama, Boehner, TSA, CIA, NSA, DEA, BATF, Federal Reserve, Freddie Mae, HUD, SWAT teams, HHS, Departments of Labor or Energy or Education or Agriculture, Homeland Security, AMTRAK, NASA, INS, FDA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, NATO, Trans-Pacific Partnership, ????????
The United States that I love guarantees individual liberties. In fact, I believe that the 4th of July did not come about from worship of Empire but from devotion to individual freedom. However, for those who prefer mindless displays of national patriotism, other nations truly put us to shame.