Not One Nation under God? Then under Whom?

By | January 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

The invocation at President Obama’s inauguration Monday was delivered by Myrlie Evers-Williams, the 79-year-old widow of civil-rights leader Medgar Evers. He was murdered in 1963. I believe this was the first time the invocation was given by someone not of the clergy.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Evers-Williams delivered a fine invocation, asking for blessings from the Almighty. In addition, she quoted from the Pledge of Allegiance – but omitted “under God.” If this were an isolated incident, it wouldn’t be worthy of note. But it isn’t isolated. There is an ongoing effort to remove these words from the Pledge.
The assumption is that atheists 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 should we worry about offending the 2%, yet not worry about offending the large majority who are believers? That says more about us than about those we try not to offend.
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 or progressives 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 things don’t look promising.
History shows that revolutions are more likely to make things worse than to make them better. The American Revolution was the exception, not the rule. But why did the revolutions that followed ours not follow our example and create free nations? Unlike our Founders, the leaders of these movements did not seek to empower the people, but to dupe the people and empower themselves. They did not seek to overthrow tyranny, but to replace the tyrant. If you doubt this, look at the ayatollahs in Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The shah and Mubarak were bad – they are worse.
Clearly, advocates of big government in America don’t belong in the same category as these oppressors. But our suspicions should be aroused when the federal government wants to control light bulbs, toilets, dishwasher detergent, whether mothers breast-feed, and what our kids eat for lunch. 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 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 predate 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, unlike today’s Supreme Court, the court of the 1930s did not use foreign court decisions to help decide cases. 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 fundamental 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?
In many schools, children are no longer taught cursive writing but only printing. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are in cursive script. It troubles me that young people can no longer read our founding documents in their original form. It frightens me that liberal Supreme Court justices cannot understand our founding documents in any form.
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 you see why advocates of big-government 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.” Oh 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, he made other corrections in the draft by crossing words out and replacing them. But “subjects” was scratched out with a pen knife – Jefferson felt that strongly. 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 demoted and reduced from citizens to subjects, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
The elimination of the word “God” evokes the most controversy. The elimination of the word “under” evokes little notice, but it should. 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, you are already a subject. I hope ObamaCare covers back and knee problems. You’ll need to be really flexible in order to do a lot of bowing and kneeling. That’s what subjects do.
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