Along with the American flag, the Pledge of Allegiance has become a quasi-religious cult object for the right wing. In particular, they fetishize the phrase, "Under God." Any attempts by evil atheists to remove this phrase are met with derision on the part of those who see America as the most awesome country that Jesus created. When Al Sharpton did an MSNBC promo that loosely used the Pledge, minus the God part, the right's outrage was articulated by the Media Research Center's Dan Gainor who wrote that Sharpton "expelled God" from his ad. Today, the pledge loving Fox & Friends, which never wastes an opportunity to advance the evil-atheists-hate-America meme, reported on a case, now before the Massachusetts Supreme Court, about whether the daily recitation of the Pledge is OMG a violation of students' rights - a propaganda twofer in that the case was brought by atheists and involves the sacred "under God" section - a case that has Peter Johnson Jr. and Steve Doocy, very "disturbed." OMG!
The segment opened with triumphant music and a great big, American flag visual with "Prescription for America" superimposed over it. Jesus BFF and uber patriot Steve Doocy played video of the late comedian, Red Skelton, lamenting the possibility that "under God" might be taken from the Pledge. Doocy reported that "Skelton's fear is now a strong possibility." He spoke about how a Massachusetts court is set to hear a case that would "banish the words under God" from the Pledge. In case you didn't get the significance of this outrage, the chyron read "Challenging God, Pledge Case Reaches MA High Court." (So contesting words in the Pledge is challenging "God?" Wow!)
He introduced "Fox legal analyst," Roger Ailes' personal attorney, NY Catholic arch-diocesan litigator, and Knight of Malta (more posh and exclusive than the K of C) Peter Johnson Jr. who, last year, continued the Fox & Friends attack on a public official who refused the say the Pledge at town meetings because she felt that is a prayer and, as such, violates the First Amendment. Johnson exclaimed that Skelton was "prophetic." He described how the "new assault" on the Pledge will be handled by the MA court. In case you don't know who you need to hate, the chyron provided the answer: "Pledge Problem, Atheists Challenging "Under God" Wording." He informed the viewers that the school district says that the recitation isn't mandatory and "this is based on our cultural and historical roots."
Doocy reinforced the bogus propaganda: "That's the key, it's historical." Johnson repeated "it's historical." He noted that no court has considered the Pledge to be religious. He whined that "there's something wrong in our country" when "pledging" and "allegiance to the republic that stands for liberty and justice" become a problem. In spluttering about the history of the Pledge, he noted that it was written in the 1890's and "reformed" in 1954 "based upon a lawyer from the Sons of the American Revolution and the Knights of Columbus." ("Historical Roots" going back a little over one hundred years?) Without mentioning that the Pledge was written by a socialist who was an official of the National Education Association teacher's union. Johnson dramatically preached that the country was founded on "an understanding of natural rights, of divine rights that any government can't pull away from us." Throughout his screed, Doocy provided affirmation with lots of "right" and "uh-huh's."
Doocy advanced the popular Fox & Friends meme about how just a few cowardly atheists are making life miserable for patriotic Christians: "Once again, this is being brought by an unnamed atheist couple." (Right, because if they were named, they'd now be getting death threats from the nice patriotic Christians who watch Fox & Friends.) Johnson noted that the claim is about denial of equal protection and that "they are being singled out." Doocy shouted "are they?" Johnson didn't think so and said that "this is a big cultural problem" that will go "on and on" and "it's all the more galling [Steve says "sure"] when we see a casket brought home to the US when folks say 'I'm not going to pledge the United States of America, a nation under God." He whispered "it's disturbing." Doocy affirmed him with "amen."
The "divine right" that Johnson alluded to is the "nature's God" invoked in the Declaration of Independence - a "Deist" god that was very different from that of traditional Christianity. I suspect that the deist Founders, who were products of a secular "Enlightenment" that was very anti-clerical, would be appalled by the two morning "Papists" who are saying that if you don't believe in their version of "God," you're not a real American. And that's really "disturbing."
But it’s MY Christian God they’re attacking!!!
Amerika – Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!
Ooops! I mean Thank God! Thank God! Thank God! Thank God!
Here’s the original: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” And as Wiki notes on the Pledge’s history, Bellamy originally wanted to include the words “equality” and “fraternity” in the Pledge but knew the school superintendents who would ultimately approve its use in schools were opposed to equality of women and blacks.
Then, in 1923, the Pledge was modified to change “to my flag” to “to the flag of the United States” as a way of imposing a “loyalty” reminder to recent immigrants with “of America” being added in 1924. It was this form that was formally recognized by Congress in 1942 (you might want to recall America’s state of affairs that year for a bit of background why Congress so readily took up what we would now describe as “feel-good legislation”).
But here’s where things REALLY get good. When Bellamy introduced the Pledge, he felt that, as the Pledge was a formal vow of allegiance, it should be accompanied by a formal salute. And his choice of salutes was a very traditional salute, one that was readily associated with ancient Rome—extending the hand and arm, slightly elevated, forward from the chest, with the palm down. Unfortunately for this salute, it had another meaning by the time Congress got into the act. Congress felt this salute too closely resembled the Nazi salute so the more simplistic hand-over-the-heart form was instituted.
Oh. One other little-known fact about the Pledge. It was a part of a marketing scheme. The magazine in which the Pledge first appeared had been selling flags to public schools and, in 1892, the whole country was getting prepared to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s little commercial venture and the magazine’s owner (who wasn’t selling nearly enough flags by this point) decided to capitalize on the event and tying the celebrations with selling flags to public schools—so basically it was a marketing scheme to celebrate venture capitalism, despite the author’s strongly Christian Socialist tendencies. (By all accounts, Bellamy—as an older man—was far less “social” than he had been. He wrote a few tracts that would play well with FoxNoise’s current anti-immigration players.)