Atheist/lawyer/ER Doctor/Supreme Court petitioner and presumably night-time crime-fighter Michael Newdow's fight to get the "one nation, under god" pledge of allegiance removed from classrooms was dealt a set-back yesterday. According to the LA Times, the 9th Circuit appeals court said that the pledge is not unconstitutional because there is no federal law that requires it be said. This is a very peculiar legal response considering the Supreme Court has a long history of ruling in favor of free speech and religious freedom in many cases in which no federal law was involved.
If you don't know Newdow's name, you should. He is one of the greatest champions for the secularist cause of our time. He has been fighting such issues as the pledge, the unsavory slogan on our currency, and against Christian intrusion into the education system for years. He has endured a near-constant smear campaign from the right not to mention plenty of death threats.
Newdow has pledged to appeal the decision and I hope it the Supreme Court will hear it this time. That said, I don't personally want to see "under God" removed from the pledge. A better question than is this constitutional? is why is there a pledge at all? The pledge needs to go away, now.
I sort-of understand why it started- understand if not condone. It only got the "under god" and in widespread practice during the Red Scare and god was meant to indicate our separation from the communists. Everyone was wetting their pants over the looming threat of nuclear annihilation. That's our grandparents excuse, what's ours? The pledge, any such pledge, is a pitiful jingoistic stab at emotional indoctrination. It highlights, not obviates, the neuroticism of a nation's psyche. It is as transparent and insulting as it is feeble: we know you children are so stupid that forcing you to rotely recite a cloying loyalty oath will win your allegiance for the duration. Are we so frightened each generation will be poised to defect? Doesn't such an oath seem more fitting to a North Korea or a Soviet Union?
I say this as a former soldier and a veteran of war: the pledge of allegiance is not patriotism. It needs to stop, now. If we want our children to love America we should hand them an America that is worth loving, one without authoritarian demands of fealty.