A minor firestorm has been lit by the NBC TV network: for their coverage of the the U.S. Open golf competition over the weekend, NBC aired a little patriotic intro of kids reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” to the American flag intercut with shots of soldiers raising the flag. No big deal for a sports show, except for one small thing: they edited out the kids saying the words “under God” in the Pledge:
Hmmmm. I have several comments.
1) I don’t think this was intentional on the part of NBC. Obviously, they meant to edit the Pledge, but I don’t think they took out the words “under God” as some sort of anti-American God-hating plot to secularize the country and turn us into slavish devil-worshippers. Not that this would stop some folks from believing just that.
That seems far-fetched to start with, but mind you they also edited out the word “indivisible”. If they had some sort of anti-religious agenda, why take that out? Just taking out “under God” would be a much stronger statement.
2) The original pledge didn’t have the words “under God” in it. They were added in 1954 as part of the McCarthy red scare. I’ve always found it the height of irony that they were added between the words “one nation” and “indivisible”, as adding religion to a secular pledge is very divisive, and in fact that was the intent of adding it (McCarthyism is a great example of “Us versus Them” thinking).
[UPDATE: After posting this, I saw that Fark has a thread on this with the title, “NBC apologizes for airing Pledge of Allegiance as originally written”.]
3) NBC issued an apology for this which will do nothing to calm people down:
We began our coverage of this final round just about three hours ago and when we did it was our intent to begin the coverage of this U.S. Open Championship with a feature that captured the patriotism of our national championship being held in our nation’s capital for the third time. Regrettably, a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in that feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone and we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.
If they had said why they edited it – bad audio, or cut for time, or saying more than just “under God” was taken out, or whatever the heck the actual reason is – it would’ve gone a lot farther. Leaving it like that just will enflame people more.
I’ve never been a big fan of the Pledge, to be honest. I was made to recite it in school when I was a kid, memorizing it by rote, but never, not once, was I taught what it was supposed to mean. When done that way, it’s a litany. I do honestly think that a representative democracy is the best form of government we have, but I also think there are ways of improving it. Having kids memorize a pledge like this doesn’t encourage them to think about their government and country, it only encourages them to obey it.
And that, to me, is the opposite of what our country actually stands for.