Pledge Common Sense
Connecticut Law Tribune
one am glad that the Pledge of Allegiance has been thrown into the ash
heap by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If I wanted to join a secret
society replete with oaths, clubby handshakes and ceremony, I'd seek out
the Shriners, Elks or some other club. I am an American. That means I cherish
the ability to chart my own course.
be told, we are not "one nation under God," even though there is a strong
subculture that wishes it were so. I recall once being scorned by then
Judge William Sullivan, now Chief Justice Sullivan of the Connecticut Supreme
Court. In an off-the-record sigh provoked by the obduracy of an adversary,
I muttered "Jesus Christ." The judge glared. "Don't take the name of the
Lord in vain in my court," he hissed with the charm of Torquemada. I reminded
the judge then, as I do now, that he is not my lord, but merely an itinerant
Jewish preacher of historic interest.
long been offended by the Pledge of Allegiance for the simple fact that
I do not know what it means. I went to school to learn, and came home with
my head spinning. Where is God? What does it mean to be under Him, or Her,
or Whatever the case may be? And why should the state require us to recite
this quasi-prayer before beginning a day devoted, we hope, to learning
of what the world consists?
sooner had the 9th Circuit ruled than the Senate leaped into action, expressing
by a vote of 99-0 its disagreement with the ruling. And religious zealots
from Jerry Falwell on down the descending scale of rationality are promising
bedlam until the ruling is reversed.
of Americans are homeless. The Senate's response? Nothing.
and accountants rape investors. The Senate's response? Nothing.
air is unclean, our waters clogged with pollutants. The Senate's response?
are hated in much of the world for faults we care not to examine. The Senate's
attack a trope, and, well, the heavens disgorge themselves with cheap sentiment.
it is easy. Talking about God has the mysterious quality of sounding like
sound and fury. In fact, such speech often signifies nothing. I have never
once read a book, heard a debate or faced a decision in which the figure
of God played any decisive role. Fanatics kill in God's name; others defend
in God's name. God, in the meantime, keeps His preferences hidden from
course, Congress will pass a law reaffirming that God belongs in the pledge.
And of course, Justice Antonin Scalia will write a scathing opinion, most
likely in the majority this time, about the centrality of God in our lives.
And of course, millions of Americans will be relieved when this little
three-letter word is once again given pride of place in our schools.
the politics of selecting federal judges will get even goofier. Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Mo., has already announced that the 9th Circuit
decision "highlights what the fight over federal judges is all about."
Really, Senator. I guess anything sells in the Bible Belt; go ahead and
pray while Rome burns. It beats fiddling.
different are we than the mullahs whom we now seek to bomb? "There is no
God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet," they say. And we are one nation
under God, with liberty and justice for all. Liberty and justice that is,
for all those content to swim in the mainstream. I find it offensive to
be required, or to have my children be required, to pay homage to invisible
gods, phantoms and deities.
Pattis is a name partner at New Haven, CT's Williams and Pattis and an
award-winning weekly columnist for the Connecticut Law Tribune.
at - http://www.ncac.org/cen_news/cn87pledge.htm