A Great Nation

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RE: "Conflate Church and State" letter by Chris Mathys, in the November 7-13 edition of Alibi [v28 i45].

As a veteran like Chris Mathys, and a retired military serviceman as well, I deeply appreciate his dedication to our country—not to mention his active duty service. Thank you, Mr. Mathys.

And, yes, our flag is not just a piece of cloth, as my fellow veteran Chris Mathys so affectionately points out. Let us respect it, knowing it stands for freedom—the freedom to dissent, no less. This means those who choose to denigrate it for whatever reason, have the Constitutional right—according to the Bill of Rights [Mathys] lauds—to do so.

We live in America, not the Third Reich, and Americans have the right to protest the policies of their government. After all, sometimes the government is wrong; and even when it’s right, Americans still have the right to protest the policies of their government. If they choose to do so by denigrating Old Glory, they may do so.

Many of us will not like it, and their message of dissent will probably fall flat and even backfire because of it. Nevertheless, I—for one—strongly believe in the old saying, “I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

As for the Pledge of Allegiance, let me provide some background. My grandparents never recited it growing up—it did not exist. Yet they grew up to be fine, patriotic Americans—and firm Christians, too.

Interestingly enough, the words “under God” were not a part of the Pledge until after World War II. This means an entire generation (my parents’ generation) grew up in the 1920s and 1930s without the reference to God when they recited the Pledge. Yet, they survived the Great Depression with dignity and then went on to win WWII. Afterwards, they built not only a strong America, but a just one: ending Jim Crow and racial segregation. They also raised their children to be patriots and believers in God—even though the Pledge had not contained the words “under God.”

My point: We were a great nation—even with all our flaws—long before the Pledge ever existed. We will remain so, at least in my view, whether we require students to recite the our Pledge of Allegiance or not.

I therefore humbly submit: Let us be careful so as not get so wrapped up in outward shows of patriotism and formality that we forget where true devotion to the United States of America comes from—from within, from the heart.

Letters: Blinded By Patriotism

Chris Mathys [“Conflate Church and State,” v28 i45] is blinded by his patriotism and devotion to our flag. While I salute his military service, he needs to go back and review some basic civics.

While they are important symbols, the Pledge of Allegiance and the US flag are not “the foundation of who we are as American citizens.” Rather, it is the Constitution that is the basis of our republic. The Pledge of Allegiance was not written until 1892, one hundred years after the signing of the Constitution. The founding fathers did not recite this pledge. They also did not include the word “God” in the Constitution.

When Mr. Mathys says he wants God, prayers and the Ten Commandments back in our schools, he means his god and his prayers and his beliefs. The separation of church and state is one of the most important achievements in governance. We must never go back to a unified church and state.

Letters: You Gotta Keep ’Em Separated

To the author of “Conflate Church and State” [v28 i45]:

You sound like you are from the great WWII generation, when our flag stood against imperialist regimes—like Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan—that were actually invading other countries as well as killing and/or imprisoning people of different religions within their own nation. Maybe you have forgotten how we imprisoned Japanese-Americans during the war on no more evidence than that they were of Japanese descent.

Since WWII, people of color in this country did not enjoy all the “liberty and justice for all” that the Pledge of Allegiance states in its opening line. Hence, the Civil Rights Movement gained momentum and was actually signed into law (Civil Rights Act of 1964) by President Johnson. But just because a law is made doesn’t mean people actually follow it.

Many injustices are still being done against the underprivileged here, and it has only gotten worse under the present administration, whose focus seems to be for the 1 percent , extremely wealthy and white class. So really, there is no common belief here that all men and women are created equal. That is in your idealistic mind, which is not a bad thing—except that you see everything in black and white, or maybe red, white, and blue.

The reality is that people have been kneeling during National Anthems to show that we have a lot of problems here at home that need to be addressed, with no disrespect to the flag itself. Why, don’t you kneel to pray to the God that you think is common to all here? We allow freedom of religion here; that’s what makes this country great.

One of those current problems is our borders that were once open to the world are now being closed (Mexican border) under the pretense that only criminals are coming here. Mostly, they are families trying to escape the nightmares that their countries have become from corrupt governments, supported by the USA, in Central and South America, as well as gangs that commit crimes, for the flow of drugs and guns between our country and theirs. And we don’t even have enough immigrant workers to harvest crops in the US anymore, and Americans won’t do it because it’s “peasant labor.”

Many European countries would argue that this is the greatest country in the world. Many Native Americans would tell you that this land has been taken from them by force. We don’t even stand united with the rest of the world on climate change. Do I have to say it: Dissent is patriotic, or we would probably still be a territory of England.

If you look at the Constitution, the First Amendment prevents our government from officially recognizing or favoring any religion. That is the reason the Ten Commandments (Judeo-Christian) are not allowed in public buildings. And until liberty and justice is for all here in the USA, I don’t see how you can force people to recite the Pledge in school and public meetings.

Sorry, mister, but the world has grown (without your permission) into an international world, and your nationalistic fervor, possibly stirred up by white supremacy and the present government, is only going to cause more injustice. We still need, as the founding fathers intended, separation of church and state.

Letters should be sent with the writer’s name, address and daytime phone number via email to letters@alibi.com. They can also be faxed to (505) 346-0660. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter. Word count limit for letters is 300 words.

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