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First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.

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One Nation Under...What? - Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 23:17


One Nation Under…What?

David C. Stolinsky
June 23, 2011

While broadcasting the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, NBC ran a segment showing schoolchildren reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. But the words “under God” were omitted. NBC claimed the omission was accidental, and apologized to anyone who was offended.

Note that NBC apologized for giving offense, but did not apologize for editing out part of what actually happened. That a “news” organization does not believe altering facts deserves an apology is revealing indeed. What else does it alter, but we don’t know?

Interestingly, “indivisible” was also omitted. Does someone at NBC understand that once belief in God is eliminated, the nation may not hold together? Or does someone believe that the nation can be, or should be, divided? Who knows? Once we agree that altering facts is acceptable journalistic practice, all bets are off.

Clearly, the most glaring omission was the word “God.” Perhaps NBC assumed that atheists would find “God” objectionable. But atheists make up only about 2% of the U.S. population, and agnostics an additional 4%. Presumably, agnostics should not be offended − by definition, they are uncertain whether the nation is or is not under God. But why would NBC worry about offending the 6%, yet not worry about offending the 94% who are believers? That says more about NBC than about its audience.

What do the objectors to “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance actually object to? The usual assumption is that they object to the word “God.” They themselves may assume this. But I believe it is incorrect. I believe that what the objectors really object to is the word “under.”

Leftists − and many who call themselves liberals but are actually leftists − believe that the state should not be “under” anything. They believe that the state should be supreme. In their hearts, they agree with the concept of an all-powerful government. During the French Revolution, the rebels cut off the heads of the aristocrats, but they continued to think like aristocrats themselves.

Despite the example of the American Revolution, the French revolutionaries objected only to the concept of monarchy, but not to the concept of the all-powerful state. This concept was carried forward by the revolutionaries in Russia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, and Iran. Whether it will be carried on by revolutionaries in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere in the Muslim world remains to be seen. But right now, things don’t look promising. History shows that revolutions are more likely to make things worse than to make them better. Our revolution was the exception, not the rule.

Clearly, advocates of big government in America don’t belong in the same category as these tyrants. Nevertheless, when the government tells us what kind of light bulbs and toilets we must use, our suspicions should be aroused. And when the government wants to make life-and-death decisions about our health care, our suspicions should be intensified.

But our suspicions were confirmed when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked what part of the Constitution empowered the federal government to enact national health care. She replied, “Are you serious?” − and giggled. That giggle should have sent chills down your spine. It revealed more about the aims of advocates of big government than anything else could have.

And then we have the evasions and ambiguities of recent Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan at their confirmation hearings.

For example, Kagan doubted that the people have any rights that antedate the Constitution. To her, the Constitution grants rights − which can easily be taken away by “interpreting” the Constitution according to “evolving norms” and “world opinion.” Thankfully, the Supreme Court did not use foreign court decisions to help decide cases in the 1930s. Otherwise, we might have been treated to Hitlerian and Stalinist concepts of “law” and “rights.”

And when Kagan was asked whether the federal government had the power to order us to eat three vegetables and three fruits daily, she answered evasively. She saw that if she said “No,” she would have no basis for upholding ObamaCare. Though the question seemed trivial, in fact it was of momentous importance. The “elite” believe that there is nothing the government does not have the power to do. But how can even twisted logic reconcile this with the Constitution?

The Constitution is our table of organization. It lays out the three branches of the federal government and defines their powers. But the Declaration of Independence is our mission statement. It enunciates in clear, even beautiful, language what schoolchildren know − or used to know − but which learned judges now pretend not to understand:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Now do you see why big-government advocates object not only to “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, but also to “under”? They reject the Founders’ belief that rights come from God and are unalienable − that is, cannot be taken away, even if the people are so foolish as to want to give them away.

These statists don’t want the government to be “under” anything at all. That is why they push the notion of a “living” Constitution, which means merely what a judge says it means today. Tomorrow it may mean something else − who knows? No Creator giving us unalienable rights; just an arbitrary, unpredictable, infinitely flexible Constitution, subject to constant reinterpretation to suit the ruling “elite.” Yes, they know what is best for us ignorant, childlike subjects.

But note that the Declaration goes on:

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

The government is our servant, not the other way around. If it proves to be a disobedient, uncontrollable, meddling, obnoxious servant, we can fire it and hire another. Advocates of big government should keep this in mind.

When Jefferson wrote the draft of the Declaration, he used the word “subjects.” He had lived his whole life as a subject of the British king. But he realized his error, erased “subjects” and inserted “citizens.” Revealingly, other words in the draft were crossed out and replaced, but “subjects” was obliterated. Jefferson must have felt strongly about this correction. He wasn’t merely correcting the text − he was correcting the age-old idea that the “common” people should serve the “elite.”

We have lived our whole lives as citizens of a constitutional republic. If we allow ourselves to be degraded and turned back from citizens into subjects, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

The elimination by NBC of the word “God” evoked the most objections, as it should. The elimination of the word “indivisible” evoked fewer objections, though it too was significant. The elimination of the word “under” evoked little notice, but it should have. A government that is not under anything − not under God, and not under the Constitution as actually written − is a government that is not under the control of the people. Instead, they are under the control of the government.

If that doesn’t make you angry, then you are already a subject. I hope your back and knees are limber. You will have to do a lot of bowing and kneeling. That’s what subjects do.

Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. Contact: