dinsdag, maart 04, 2003

Godless Communists and Pledging Allegiance

"America is a nation ... that values our relationship with the Almighty. We need commonsense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God." -- George Bush, Head Theurgist and current President of the United States of America

Amid deafening squeals of protest from a conflux of conservative politicians, their knee-jerk sycophants, a teeming troupe of false patriots and the ever-maladroit Bush Misadministration, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to let stand its controversial ruling that the schoolhouse ritual of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. The decision will take effect Monday in nine lucky Western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

"A profession that we are a nation 'under God' is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,' because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion," Senior Judge Alfred Goodwin wrote.

"The government should not link religion and patriotism," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United Executive Director. "An individual can express love of country regardless of his or her religious or philosophical outlook."

And if you don't believe them, you could always consult Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of America, who wrote:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State."

Sacramento, California physician Michael Newdow, an avowed atheist, had filed the case on behalf of his elementary school-aged daughter arguing that she should not have to hear the words "under God" in her teacher's daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance required by state law.

The original pledge was written by a Baptist socialist minister, Francis Bellamy, in 1892, and was first published in a magazine called the Youth's Companion.

It was only more than 60 years later, in 1954, that Congress, at the height of a paranoid anti-communist McCarthy period, added the words "under God". The move followed a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a rightwing Catholic organisation which wanted to distinguish the US from the Soviet Union and its "Godless communism."

Not surprisingly, the increasingly paranoid "everybody is a potential terrorist" Bush Administration immediately condemned the decision:

"The Justice Department will spare no effort to preserve the rights of all our citizens to pledge allegiance to the American flag." declared a deeply disturbed Attorney General John Ashcroft, taking time out from his industrious crusade against domestic terrorism which recently arrested 55 menacing terrorists across the United States for selling bongs, pipes and other paraphernalia. "We will defend the ability of Americans to declare their patriotism through the time-honored tradition of voluntarily reciting the Pledge."

The increasingly hysterical business news rag posing as a chronicle of political thought, the Wall Street Journal, noted: "We can hope the Supreme Court eventually reverses this judicial invention, but until then schoolkids in the nine states covered by the Circuit will be barred from reciting the Pledge after March 10. This is a splendid message to send just as U.S. troops are about to go to war to defend the principles the Pledge extols,"

Michael Gulden, principal at Barbara Comstock Morse Elementary School, said teachers haven't explained to the students yet what the ruling means.

"I don't think a lot of kids would understand,'' he said. ''For older kids, it's something they've done every day since they started school.''

Indeed. Just imagine how emotionally scarred these poor kids are going to be when we let on that Santa Claus doesn't grade their term papers and the Easter Bunny will no longer be running their gym class.

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