In the Strib (the paper edition) yesterday, July 11th, the editorial board of the Largest Newsroom in Minnesota! penned a genuine stinker about dropping the reciting the pledge of allegiance before meetings of the city council in St. Louis Park. It stuns me that an event of such little consequence could inflame so many people, become a talking point for our odious president, and suck the Strib in, too.
We’ll let the Strib’s editors recount the tale:
Last month, the St. Louis Park City Council voted to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance [the way the Strib writes it, you’d think it was the Apostles’ Creed] at most meetings, due to concerns that some residents in the “increasingly diverse community” might find it “unwelcoming.”
Since then, the council has painfully learned how unwelcome its hasty action was to many in the community and around the nation.
About 100 angry, vocal protesters, many waving U.S. flags, confronted council members earlier this week, pressing them to reverse their decision. Following that outpouring, council members have sensibly and rightly agreed to reconsider.
Never mind that many of the choleric protesters didn’t even live in St. Louis Park. Also from the Strib (read your own damn paper, editorial board):
On Monday night, Tammy Hopps of Brooklyn Park passed out small American flags [that’s where the flags came from], saying they’re what gives Americans the freedoms they have.
I got my freedom from a flag? Right. I’m sure the meeting was populated with the flushed woolly heads like Ms. Hopps. But don’t take it from me; take it from Mike Gelfand. The first eleven minutes of the podcast at the link are a priceless first-hand account and commentary on the meeting. He did an informal nose count of residents, too.
Jennifer Carnahan, chair of the RPM, who claims to be a resident of St. Louis Park, although married to a southern Minnesota congressman, was there, too. Non-traditional marriage, I guess. Shocking for a Republican.
According to the editorial, the ed board reached out to the city of St. Louis Park and was told that the pledge was going to be dropped because some of the people who came before the council weren’t citizens, had no duty (nobody does, really) to recite it, and that reciting it could intimidate new residents.
Seems reasonable to me. But not to the Strib:
But the council’s stated reason struck us then [when the issue first arose] as off-kilter.
You know, I read all the way to the very, very end and never found out why the council’s reasoning was “off kilter.” Believe me, it wasn’t as off kilter as Tammy’s was.
The Tweeter in Chief has remarked about the treasonous council in St. Louis Park, too, several days ago. And yesterday, before the mold had even started to grow on the morning’s paper, President Trump mentioned the flap for a second time in his morning tweet storm as a reason he’d win Minnesota in 2020. A dubious proposition, but nevertheless.
People rarely mention that the pledge of allegiance started out as a cheap commercial trick by a magazine and was expanded to include “under God” in the Fifties. Take that, you godless communists! When I was a kid, I remember Red Skelton telling me on the tube why “under God” was important. I was confused about it even then, but I didn’t tell anybody.
Here’s what the pledge was about and is still about:
While the language contained in the pledge is not overtly nativist or xenophobic, the spirit that animated its creation was steeped in this sort of bigotry.
In a letter in the same edition of the Strib, the ordinarily level-headed Marshall Tanick says that people who don’t want to say the pledge can just leave the room. Just, I suppose, as third grader Mennonites can do when the pledge is recited in class.
I have a little experiment for you, members of the Strib editorial board. The next time you are somewhere when the pledge is recited, when the droning comes to the appropriate place, exclaim “NOT UNDER GOD.”
See what happens.
I offered a brief quote above and a link to an article by a faculty member at the American University entitled The ugly history of the Pledge of Allegiance — and why it matters. The article deserves much more exploration than I gave it. Please go and read it.
But here are just a few grafs:
The origins of the pledge trace to the late 19th century, the product of an expansionist American project. In 1891, the family magazine Youth’s Companion asked 35-year-old Francis Bellamy, a former pastor of Boston’s Bethany Baptist Church, to fashion a patriotic program for schools around the country to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s “arrival in America” by “raising the U.S. Flag over every public school from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”
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.
It sound a lot like today, doesn’t it? And it makes the stated concerns of the St. Louis Park council entirely realistic.
Just one more graf from the article:
The nativism of the 1890s that birthed the Pledge of Allegiance is still with us today. At a time when the president of the United States demands restrictive immigration laws in the wake of terrorist attacks and promises to build a “great wall” between the United States and Mexico to curb the flow of Mexican migrants whom he has categorically branded criminals and rapists, we would do well to learn from our history of race-based moral panics and compulsory patriotism.
If you can’t see the connection between the braying of President Trump over immigration and the pledge of allegiance, you just aren’t paying attention.
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