SO! A former student posted this picture on her facebook page without any comment:
You KNOW I can’t leave that shit alone, so I posted this:
You know that the whole “under God” nonsense was put in during the McCarthy era as a way to try to root out suspected communists, right?
with this link to the history of the Pledge of Allegiance to back up my assertion.
One of her friends (who I do not know in real life), responded to me with this:
who cares it should stay the way its always been. end. of. story.
Um, no, Sweetie; so NOT the end of the story:
That’s the point, Maria – it HASN’T always been that way, and there are a lot of people who think that the best way to honor the Pledge of Allegiance is to bring it back to its original form. The First Amendment – the very first one the Founders thought to include – gives as our first directive that there be no influence between the government and religion. This whole “love it or leave it, do as (insert bully group here) says or you’re un-American” is, frankly un-American. We are a nation founded and maintained in diversity; that so many people still haven’t yet figured that out is a big problem.
That was met with this eloquent response:
oh im sorry i dont care thats how its been my whole life, so it shouldn’t change
which, I have to admit, left me a little flabbergasted. I responded with, “Wow. Really?”
It was just about here that one of my OTHER former students hopped on board (the kid who posted this to her wall has yet to chime in). Bart (you remember Bart, right?) lobbed this over Maria’s fence:
Maria, under that thinking “It’s been my whole life, so it shouldn’t change,” things that affect your life now would never have come to pass. Women’s right to vote directly affects you, but never would have happened unless things changed, for one example. The fact is that Christianity is falling in the United States, and that we never were “one nation under God,” or any god, for that matter. A separation from Church and State is needed in this country in order to have a working government, and this is not how it is at the moment.
I’ve been contemplating Maria’s attitude all afternoon. I guess I’m always shocked when people – particularly young people – exude an attitude like this. Even a cursory look at the American Experiment tells us that our country has a long and predictable pattern of discrimination (sometimes brutal), revolt, reform and, finally, acceptance. Though an argument can be made to the extent of the acceptance in the big-picture, for the sake of this discussion, let’s agree that it happened with African Americans. It happened with the Chinese and Irish immigrants. It happened with women. It’s happening with queer folk.
Stuff like this reminds me that it’s happening with non-theists, too, and that the mark that we’re doing something right is when the people who have until now been secure in their positions of privilege start lashing out. I’m convinced that a lot of the ugly that we’re seeing – the hysterical efforts to roll back the rights of women, the work to limit the franchise of the poor, the attempts to strip union and workers’ rights, the outrage (often manufactured) about a supposed “war on Christianity” – are all signs that we’re on the precipice of a great and important change. I like to think that we’re in the final stages of labor; that just when we think we can’t possibly do this anymore, we’re encouraged to make one final push to deliver something miraculous.
Let it be so.