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Monday, September 15, 2008

Heil Bellamy!

We've been entertaining a couple of ladies for the last few days - one from Los Angeles and the other from Ohio. They are old high school friends who try to travel together once a year. One is a singer/songwriter and actress, the other is a traditional mom. Both are very nice people. Since I took the train to Biarritz yesterday, I missed last night's dinner with these girls. I hear that the conversation turned to politics. The gal from LA said she likes Obama. The gal from Ohio said:

  1. She doesn't like what Bush has done to the country
  2. She doesn't like McCain
  3. BUT...she's concerned that Obama refuses to say the pledge of allegiance.
Holy canoli. I'm kind of glad I wasn't there. I don't know how I would have been able to stop myself from saying, "I need to touch you to make sure I'm not imagining this. Am I actually sitting across the table from somebody who a) believes that kind of horse shit and b) cares about something so incredibly inane?"

Do I really have to link to pages that refute this lie? Are there really people with half a brain out there that even listen to or worry about this kind of crap? I guess so. I guess that's how Shrub got elected for two (count 'em, two) terms and I guess these are the very people who truly threaten Obama's chances in November.

Why are we pledging allegiance to a tri-colored piece of fabric? Anyway, have you ever read the history of this little ditty (Wikipedia page)? It was written by a guy named Bellamy who was a Christian Socialist. "He had initially also considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided they were too controversial since many people opposed equal rights for women and blacks." Niiice.

It didn't originally have the words "under God." So, the Catholic Boys Club (oh, sorry. The Knights of Columbus) unsuccessfully pressured the shit out of the government to add it to the pledge. It was a Presbyterian minister in 1954 who finally strong-armed Eisenhower into implementing the addition. That was a great day in history for separation of church and state. At least the Jehova's Witnesses had enough gumption to object about the fact that reciting the pledge was compulsory in schools. They "considered the flag salute to be idolatry." Well, yeah. The Supreme Court agreed with them: "In 1943 the Supreme Court reversed its decision, ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that "compulsory unification of opinion" violated the First Amendment."

That phrase is a whopper: "compulsory unification of opinion." I guess that means that the pledge is just an opinion. And, under the First Amendment, you can't force people to express it.

So, even if Obama refused to recite it, he is protected under the First Amendment and has every right to refuse to recite it.

The best part? It used to be accompanied by The Bellamy Salute, until some very wise people decided it was a little too Nazi-ish to continue, and so they changed it to the hand-over-heart salute.

I liked the gal visiting us from Ohio. She's a nice human being. But I would still like to slap some sense into her...using the Bellamy Salute.

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