Jul. 15, 2002: And One More Thing About That Pledge Edict

Pardon me if I go back over ground that I plowed a couple of weeks ago, but based on the mail I have received, some more thoughts may be in order about the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance.

As you will recall, Michael Newdow, an atheist from California, went to court to have the Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional in the public schools because it contains the dreaded words, “under (You-Know-Who).” Mr. Newdow believes that saying this pledge in public schools violates the church-state separation concept. Why? Because the schools are supported by taxpayers’ dollars. Incidentally, those dollars include the words “In (You-Know-Who) We Trust,” which would seem to be an even more egregious attack on Mr. Newdow’s deeply held principles, but, hey, you can only attack “You-Know-Who” one bite at a time.

Most people I heard from were incensed by the court’s decision. We, the People, are frightened, angry and frustrated. We saw Arab terrorists kill thousands of innocent people on national television for no reason other than the victims happened to live in a country that many Arabs despise. We heard our president vow revenge for the senseless murders, and yet ten months later we can’t be certain that Osama bin Laden isn’t sitting in some cave somewhere planning another round of terror.

More than anything else in these dark days we want security and peace of mind. Most of us find that comfort in a Higher Being, whether a small minority likes it or not. Now a federal Court of Appeals, which is so suspect that it would likely declare the bald eagle unconstitutional because it discriminates against people of hair, decides to boot the Pledge of Allegiance out of our schools. That decision was more than we are willing to accept. A recent Newsweek poll says that 87 percent of Americans don’t want the pledge changed. Therefore, the pledge isn’t going to be changed. We, the People, have spoken.

Some of those people writing to defend the court’s ruling couldn’t wait to exclaim “Gotcha!” by reminding me that the words “under (You-Know-Who)” were placed in the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Obviously, they didn’t take time to look at the picture that accompanies this column, although I am flattered if they thought I was a gleam in my father’s eye in 1954. I was of voting age when the phrase was added. I remember that action being taken because we were as frightened of the Russians then as we are the Arabs today. Hence, we appealed to a Higher Being to help us through the hard times. When the going gets tough, we seem to realize that we aren’t the highest power.

Other writers claim that the Declaration of Independence does not mention God. I see the terms “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” and “endowed by their Creator” and “protection of divine Providence” and wonder what Declaration of Independence they are reading.

A Californian wrote me to say this nation is not a democracy; it is a republic. The writer says “a true democracy affords no protection for the minority viewpoint from majority rule — whereas our constitution wisely affords certain protections (the Bill of Rights) to all citizens, regardless of what the majority think.” The writer is dealing in semantics. A republic is defined as “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.” We, the People, exercise that supreme power, not the courts or any single individual. Our elected representatives express our will. That is why our republic is a democracy.

But enough of this. The Pledge of Allegiance is going to stay as is. Let us move on to more pressing issues. Business is cooking its books. Larry Jones isn’t hitting squat for the Atlanta Braves. California has passed Claxton, Georgia, as the fruitcake capitol of the world, and I still can’t get the squirrels out of my bird feeders. I hereby declare I will waste no more ink on Mr. Newdow and his ignoble cause. I’ll let You-Know-Who deal with him. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.