Quoting the Pledge

Roger Clegg (at the NRO Corner) posts what he terms "Today's Puzzle":

Here's a book review from the Washington Post this week: What's been airbrushed out of the quotation in the last sentence?

We click on over to the referenced review, go down to the end, and read …

Yoshino [the author of the reviewed book] might seem Pollyanna-hopeful to some, but his optimistic insistence on fair treatment for everyone is really not much different from our country's most idealist vision of itself: "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
At this point the hands are in the air, waving. "Oooh, teacher, I know." Yes, the reviewer, one Terry Hong, has quoted the Pledge of Allegiance, omitting the standard "under God" between "nation" and "indivisible."

And seemingly ironically, the review is of Covering by Kenji Yoshino. "Covering", states the review, "means to play down certain characteristics in order to fit into the perceived mainstream." And by leaving out "under God", isn't the reviewer "playing down certain characteristics" herself? In order to "fit into the perceived mainstream" of the reviewer's religion-phobic WaPo readership? Ah-ha! Gotcha, Ms. Hong!

It would be so neat if that were the whole story. But in fact the original text of the Pledge as written by the socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892 doesn't contain the "under God" phrase; this was added by Congress in 1954. Although it would be pretty to think that the reviewer was self-censoring the quote, it's plausible that she is well aware of the history, and actually does think that the "most idealist vision" of America was Bellamy's original version. So Roger Clegg's "puzzle" is kind of a misfire, sorry Roger.

And not that it matters, but: the fact that it was written by a socialist should be a red flag (heh) signal to think about doing without the Pledge entirely, instead of fiddling with its language. One would have thought the Congressional Commie-haters in the 1950's would have figured that out. I love my country as much as the next guy, but the Pledge is essentially a prayer to the Holy State, and I find it increasingly creepy as I get older.


Last Modified 2006-02-25 9:45 AM EST