Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Saturday, March 27, 2004  

When trying to get a handle on the assumptions of an argument, it is generally useful to flip an argument. For example, the Bushies charge Clarke with lying in his book and testimony before the 9/11 Commission. Rather than following that rabbit down the hole, flip the argument: who has the greater motivation to lie--a President in the middle of a re-election campaign, or a retired beaurocrat?

On the debate over the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the debate is usually framed from the point of view of the status quo--what harm is being done by inserting the phrase into the pledge? After all, it's really not a specific God, and it's really not that religious. Where's the harm in a little mention? (See, as always, the cofunsed Rich Lowry for a prime example of this argument.)

All right then, let's flip it around: what's gained by leaving it in? If it really isn't religious, how is our allegiance clarified by its insertion? And if it is religious, just non-demoninationally so, why not opt for a less obviously Christian "God"--say Brahman or Allah?

Obviously, it's an explicit statement of Christian belief. If the Supreme Court wishes to allow the phrase to remain in the pledge, it should remain in there based on it's actual purpose, not because could also function as a metaphor for some distant, constitutional concept. We have an amendment that was created specifically to answer questions like this: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." And we have a Congressionally-created pledge doing that very thing. The math isn't particularly tough here.

Nothing is lost by removing the phrase from the pledge. Much is lost, however, by leaving it in.

posted by Jeff | 9:29 AM |
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