Opinion

Who reads the U.S. Constitution anymore, anyway?

A lot has been made of this whole pledge of allegiance thing for way too long. I mean, Christ, I was causing a ruckus in my high school over a year ago, and that wasn’t even over the “under God” bit (Republican principal plus not standing for the flag in protest of war equals a funny scene when the fax of the 1943 Supreme Court decision of Board v. Barnette – “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” – pops out).

But hey, we’re not even debating whether a daily-coerced recitation of allegiance that seven-year-olds don’t fully grasp is constitutional or not. We’re talking about God, goddamnit!

At the moment, a good three quarters of the American public thinks Michael Newdow is an idiot (probably an asshole, too). I mean, come on guys, “In God We Trust” is our national motto, for Christ’s sake. Well, you know what? Half of Americans still think Saddam Hussein is responsible for 9/11 – might does not make right. “In God We Trust” has not long been our national motto; indeed, it’s only 48 years old. It replaced the more fitting and curiously less-divisive “E Pluribus Unum” (out of many, one) at the height of the Red Scare. Interestingly, Joe McCarthy had his way and slid “under God” into the pledge too around the same time.

John “I get my facts from Rush Limbaugh” Ashcroft has recently pointed out that our founders mentioned The Deity in such important documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – the one that counts. Well, one out of two ain’t bad. I mean, it’s not like he’s attorney general or anything. While he may win the battle over the presence of the phrase “separation of church and state,” Jefferson doesn’t leave him with much in the way of establishing a religious history to our country. Other than the First Amendment, which is clearly not what he’s looking for in the way of a state endorsement of the Almighty, the only reference to God is in Article VII, when the Constitution dates itself September 17, “the year of the lord” 1787, which is nothing more than an acknowledgement of the Christian calendar. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, is our country really this secular?

When you take away the clockwise spin, it seems what we have is a country in which our founders tried their darndest to avoid any mention of God in our legal documents. Nine out of 10 founding fathers agree: God needs to get his ethereal butt out of our public schools.

Patrick Gibbons can be contacted at p.gibbons@umiami.edu.

April 27, 2004

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Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.