8/2/10

The Constitution vs. The State

Brother Glenn was on another rant recently, this time about the Pledge of Allegiance and the Godless pinko lefties who refuse to recite it or who want “God” taken out of it. Either position seems to “Excite the Right” into those well-known fits of patriotic fury. Beck really exploits that. He knows exactly what buttons to push as he tells the right how and what to think.

Before the turn of the 20th century, few classrooms displayed US flags. Flags in general were not as common as today. This seems odd, considering that Manifest Destiny was at its crest then. Manifest Destiny is the idea that Americans have a divinely ordained right to everything from sea to shining sea. After all, If God could ordain that Israel had a right to Canaan, why could not God - who had, after all, shed his Grace on Us - not ordain the same thing for Americans and America? And if God could have Joshua and his minions drive out the heathens who already lived in Canaan, why could Americans not drive out the heathens who already occupied America? It all made perfect sense and it was Scripturally supportable.

For Columbus Day 1892 the publisher of the "The Youth's Companion" pushed a contest "... to encourage patriotism and the display of the American flag in public schools ...". The magazine sold flags as a marketing scheme to boost subscriptions, eventually selling flags to over 26,000 schools. I don’t know if the scheme increased subscriptions, nor do I know if the publisher owned the company that made the flags, but we do know that a fellow who worked for the company, Francis Bellamy, is credited with writing a bit of doggerel to put some 'oomph' into the flag sales. That was the first version of what is now The Pledge of Allegiance. A dispute over whether Bellamy or someone else wrote the verse was settled through an investigation by the United States Flag Association, reporting in 1939 that Bellamy was the One True Author. It was kind of like a modern day Council of Chalcedon.

Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian Socialist, was eventually defrocked for his views, on which he wrote and preached extensively. His sermon series on “Socialism in the Primitive Church” may have been a tipping point on that defrocking. We'd have to ask Glenn Beck about that. Or maybe Mikhail Gorbachev, who said “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” Francis Bellamy was greatly influenced by his vehemently socialist cousin Edward Bellamy, who wrote "Looking Backward", the third most popular literary work of its time. If Manifest Destiny was in, so was a widespread interest in socialism, a point Historical Researcher Beck seems to have ignored. In the novel, the main character falls asleep in 1887, wakens ala Rip Van Winkle in 2000, and finds America is a socialist 'utopia'. All industry has been nationalized; everyone works for the state; conscripted to serve the state at 21 with retirement at 45; all workers earning the same wages. Bellamy doesn't mention single-payer healthcare or a public option, so we can only imagine ...

The 'under God' thing simmered but brewed up during the McCarthy witchhunts. The Knights of Columbus pushed the addition, and President Eisenhower went for it. Interestingly, Eisenhower had been raised in a Jehovah's Witness household, and was baptized in the Presbyterian church only a year before the inclusion of 'under God'. The Jehovah's Witnesses had sued over being required to recite the Pledge, having the quaint idea that they pledged allegiance to no entity but God. Not to worry, for they were beaten senseless by red-blooded all-American super patriots, who were determined to teach them all about real American values.

Today we have a bit of doggerel which we repeat in Pavlovian fashion, pledging allegiance to the State and not the idea of the free individual, imbued with certain divinely endowed inalienable rights. To the State, in fine socialist fashion. To the State, not the Constitution. They are not one and the same, which is illustrated perfectly with recent immigration issues.

Six times during my life I have sworn or re-sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution - not the State. Your mileage may vary, but I find that oath far more powerful than a childish socialistic pledge of questionable origin, and I neither require nor desire the approval of anyone regarding my concept of 'patriotism.’ But what the hey ... I suppose a Stürme of red-blooded all-American patriots could beat me senseless and teach me all about real American values.

What exactly is it to which you are pledging your allegiance? It says right there in the Declaration of Independence: But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Republic may or may not operate under Constitutional principles. So long as it does, we're all in good shape. When it does not, we are not. The Constitution and the State, the Republic, are not one and the same. One is inviolable. The other can be corrupted beyond redemption by the weakness of man.

My oath and pledge are to the Constitution.

You do whatever works for you.