The Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees has scrapped the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings after the new board president said the ritual symbolized “nativism and white nationalism.” President Robert Miller also noted the problem with the phrase “Under God,” which implies a belief in a higher power.
The conservative website, which first reported this, suggests this is a problem without acknowledging that Miller is right about his characterization of the Pledge.
When the Pledge was first written in 1891, minister Francis Bellamy offered a version that looked fine on the surface but had a far more sinister grounding.
Through the pledge, Bellamy sought to define “true Americanism” against the rising tide of southern and eastern European immigrants “pouring over our country” in the early 20th century from “races which we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard.” Although Bellamy conceded that “the United States has always been a nation of immigrants,” he argued that “incoming waves of immigrants … are coming from countries whose institutions are entirely at variance with our own.”
Decrying the character and “quality” of these recent newcomers, Bellamy lamented that “we cannot be the dumping ground of Europe and bloom like a flower garden.” To him, “every dull-witted and fanatical immigrant” granted citizenship threatened the American republic.
Bellamy’s Pledge was essentially written to celebrate our superiority to what Republicans today would call “shithole countries” that were full of black and brown people.
The addition of “under God” in the 1950s was done to differentiate us from “Godless” Communists, but the phrase has since become an idol for religious conservatives who insist kids across the country should be pledging allegiance to their God. And, of course, we don’t live in a country that has “liberty and justice for all.” It’s absurd to claim we do. It doesn’t just whitewash our past; it ignores our present.
On top of all that, school boards, like city councils, don’t need to say the Pledge at all. They can just get to work. Anyone who wants to recite the Pledge or pray can do so ahead of time. No one’s stopping them.
Former SBCC adjunct professor Celeste Barber is the person who whined about the lack of a Pledge recitation and she told Campus Reform why this disturbed her so much:
“You are an elected body at a public institution at a public institution serving a community college,” Barber said while protesters shouted in the Jan. 24 meeting. “When you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, you are recommitting your oath to uphold and defend this country’s constitution.”
Bullshit. When you do the job you were elected to do, you’re fulfilling your oath. And if celebrating patriotism is so important to her, she should be thrilled that Miller said he prefers to “pledge allegiance to our constitution, instead of a physical object.”
She is not thrilled.
The Constitution matters less to her than a symbol that alienates various groups of people she doesn’t care for.
The SBCC board made the right decision — and it’ll be discussed again at their next meeting on Valentine’s Day. The people in charge of education shouldn’t cave in to people who celebrate ignorance. I doubt the protesters could tell you the roots of the Pledge because it would mean accepting its disturbing history. They would rather pretend everything about it is wonderful.
Fake patriotism matters more to them than helping our nation live up to its potential.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)