By Myron Pauli, Ph.D.
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 as there are few countries that are even remotely free. But as another 4th of July approaches, I often feel compelled to criticize the lack of appreciation of liberty in this nation.
The Pledge of Allegiance was introduced by a Christian socialist named Francis Bellamy in 1892. It even came with a “Bellamy salute,” which also later 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?
“… 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,” and the Pledge is in contradiction to the Constitution itself. And if the “United States” is just singular, how does one explain Article 3 Section 3 where, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against THEM, or in adhering to THEIR Enemies … .” Are you pledging to violate the Constitution? Do the stars refer to some Greek Constellation?
Then, of course, we have the Constitution’s Article 6 Section 3: “… shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required … .” But what is “under God” in the pledge if it is NOT a religious Oath? Or do we lapse into some Clintonism that it depends what “Oath” and “Pledge” mean?
As to “justice for all”: We commonly hear that since “black lives matter”, neither George Zimmerman nor Darren Wilson are entitled to a self-defense excuse because that would not be “justice” which 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?
What about “libertyfor all”? 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 standard). 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”.
Let us instead 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, “WHOM are you pledging to”? 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.
Behold The Bellamy Salute:
Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A List” category to access the Pauli archive.