The controversy over the pledge of allegiance and whether refusing to stand while it is being recited is unpatriotic or merely an expression of the first amendment rights to free speech has gone on much longer than I would have anticipated. Initially I thought that the protestors would get their fifteen minutes in the national limelight and then the public’s attention would move on to other areas. Apparently I was wrong.
I posted a recent blog stating my views on the subject but in fairness I have to confess that when reciting the pledge I routinely change one word and completely skip another. This is because, while I believe that expressing one’s support to the nation is important, I also believe that the pledge does not truly represent the views of those courageous folks who founded These United States.
The words I change or skip are “The” (singular) when used in “The United States”, which I say in its original form, “These” (plural) and I omit the word “Indivisible”.
The pledge itself, written by Francis Bellamy, was first published in 1892, partly as a means to indoctrinate schoolchildren into believing in a single nation status for These States United.
The idea of an indivisible nation was tested by the War Between the States and its outcome was described by the late Justice Antonin Scalia as follows: “Secession has been resolved by the Civil War.” I have great respect for Justice Scalia but in this instance I feel that he was wrong. The War Between the States proved nothing more than that an army backed by technological superiority and having the advantage of a vastly more efficient transportation system will prevail over an army not so well endowed. The philosophical questions were left unaddressed, and in large part are with us today.
The Declaration of Independence opens with these words, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them…”
This pretty much indicates the founder’s view of the indivisible nature of the British Empire of which they were part.
The Declaration has these words in its conclusion, “…(S)olemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and by right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved…”
These are not the words of free men attempting to leave one “indivisible” union for membership in another. The important thing to note is that the colonies were referred to as independent States equal to the State of Great Britain. Those who support the idea of an indivisible union would have us believe that the word “state” had one meaning when applied the the seceding colonies and another meaning when applied to Great Britain.
Although volumes have been written on this subject, both pro and con, it is clear to me that the founding fathers did not view the several colonies as being political subdivisions of a single nation.
I am not advocating secession for any of the states, not even my beloved Texas, but I am saying that the possibility to do so must remain in our national consciousness. In a confederation of equals the the right to dissolve the relationship must be maintained if only as a deterrent to would be tyrants at the national level, which was exactly the point made by the founding fathers in regards to Great Britain.
The philosophical question alluded to above is this: “Can a free people be bound into perpetuity, against their will, to a government that is antithetical to their needs and well being?” If the answer is no, then the idea of an indivisible union is prima facie false.