NBC Removes “Under God” From The Pledge. Who Cares?

NBC stoked a minor furor among the perpetually victimized by using the original version of the Pledge of Allegiance.

So apparently during the U.S. Open, NBC showed a video of some kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance, but edited out the “under God”. After stoking the furor of a bunch of people who had nothing better to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon then write angry emails and blog posts, NBC quickly apologized.

NBC seemed a bit surprised at the furor, no doubt because they didn’t expect anyone to actually be watching the U.S. Open.

A couple of things that I think are worth noting here:

1.) The original Pledge didn’t contain the phrase “under God.”

The Pledge was first written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. The phrase “under God” wasn’t added until 1954 – and even then, it was added by Congress to part of the Flag Code, which isn’t binding or enforceable law. So there’s really no “right way” to say the Pledge, and it seems to be it’s perfectly valid to keep it old school and say it as originally spoken.

2.) Loyalty rituals made in front of sporting events are creepy.

One historical question I need to research and answer sometime is why on Earth Americans feel obligated to mutter through meaningless patriotic rituals before playing sports. It not only doesn’t make sense, it’s creepy. Repeatedly re-affirming one’s loyalty is the hallmark of an authoritarian society and doesn’t have much place in a free one. It may subtly re-inforce a type of “America, F– yeah!” nationalism, but it doesn’t really reinforce patriotism in the sense of being a free citizen, nor does it reaffirm our shared values. It’s ultimately meaningless.

I love this country, and I express that by making arguments and performing activities geared towards making it a better one. I don’t need to “prove” my loyalty with a glazed-eye repetition of pointless rituals.

FILED UNDER: Media, US Politics
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    I think the whole pledge is creepy (quasi-fascist). The under-God bit, added to make sure we were appropriatedly anti-commie, is secondary.

  2. David says:

    Still seems weird to edit the video that way. I’d rather them just skip that part completely, but if they’re going to show it, editing out that part is probably going to get noticed.

  3. sam says:

    “1.) The original Pledge didn’t contain the phrase “under God.”

    Indeed. That’s how I recited it all through grade
    school.

  4. MBunge says:

    “meaningless patriotic rituals”

    Rituals can frequently be stupid and even wrong, but they’re not meaningless. I know folks don’t like to acknowledge this, but you are what you do. Not what you say. Not what you think. You are what you do. The things you do all the time are the things that ultimately shape your character, especially when you aren’t aware that is what’s happening. And if you think even the best sort of patriotism doesn’t involve nationalism and group loyalty, you’re fooling yourself.

    Mike

  5. mattb says:

    @MBunge — completely agree. On of the great mistakes made by some, for lack of a better word, cynical progressives is to miss how rich and meaningful all ritual is — even when its seemingly route or empty.

    On a different note, this is worth reading in dialog with this post to see the point – right or wrong – that Trevor Phillips was making about Christians feeling that they are the most “slighted” against in the UK (and in my extension the US). The removal of that phrase is a textbook example of the attacks on the “Christian Values” that this nation was founded on. (Ditto War on Christmas, and Google’s unpatriotic or Christian special “Googles”).

    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/christians-more-militant-than-muslims

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    I think the repetition in front of non-patriotic events makes those nationalistic rituals meaningless, yes.

    I don’t think that ALL forms of patriotic expression or ritual are meaningless — but I think the CONTEXT has to make sense. I sing the national anthem and light fireworks on the Fourth of July, for example.

    But why should I sing the national anthem before I watch a baseball game?

  7. Drew says:

    http://blogs.static.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/27805.html

    In other words, at large public gatherings, it became a convenient venue for the public to collectively express a unified front in troubled times. It is a practice that simply naturally morphed over time, given the times.

    What’s REALLY creepy, and petty, is the notion that we need to proactively tamp it down. The underlying intent there is undeniable.

  8. PJ says:

    To quote Curly Sue; “Play ball.”

  9. Rob in CT says:

    The anthem at sporting events, eh, fine by me.

    The Pledge, said by little kids every day in school – creepy.

  10. Bill Jempty says:

    Hey

    I’m a OTB contributor and I watched the golf yesterday. There’s a post about it over at the Sports Blog. When NBC apologized, I was watching, but not when they showed the pledge

  11. James Joyner says:

    I’m with Alex in despising patriotic rituals at non-patriotic events. A multinational sporting event being dominated by an Irishman is decidedly not an appropriate time to pledge allegiance to the American flag.

    At the same time, however, if they’re going to show some children reciting the Pledge, it’s rather creepy to edit out the “under God” part. As an atheist, I can live without that being in there; indeed, it’s arguably unconstitutional. But it’s a truly bizarre bit of editing to crop that out.

  12. Rob in CT says:

    Yeah, I’ll agree that the editing is really odd. One does wonder what they were thinking.

  13. Franklin says:

    Two things:

    1) My understanding is that they also edited out ‘indivisible’ and perhaps one other phrase, leading me to think it wasn’t really intentional.

    2) Blind loyalty IS creepy. Any loyalty to this country should be based on things you think this country does right – perhaps freedom of speech/religion/etc., things that other countries don’t have.

  14. JKB says:

    I think the problem is the context that NBC wanted to alter the perception of events. If they don’t want to show the pledge then don’t but don’t be editing it to your political agenda.

    As for the pledge, I long ago altered what I say. Nothing to do with the “under God” part but I don’t owe allegiance to a flag. I owe my allegiance to the Constitution so I say that while saluting the flag that represents the country that Constitution governs. But if the flag were to change, I would salute that one if it represented the country governed by the Constitution. I would not however continue to salute the American flag were it to come to represent a country not governed by the Constitution.

    Now I understand why the DC elite wouldn’t want my pledge to become popular as they rarely show much allegiance to the Constitution and routinely lament that it is stopping them from providing us with their utopia. Sadly, this is one thing that is bipartisan in DC.

  15. I guess I really miss the point of what this has to do with being constitutional or otherwise for voluntary associations. But what I find creepy are the constant progressive attempts to undermine our common cultural understandings in favor of postmodern subjectivism, postnationalism or whatever banner they choose to sail under today. Sorry, but I have to say today because it keeps changing.

    The United States of America is the most diverse, and most successfully diverse large industrialized country in the world, but we still need some common framework of understanding our history, culture and laws — melting pot, salad bowl and all that. I guess I just have a much greater respect for tradition (even if it is recent enough for Young Ezra Klein to accept) — especially over ideology, but then that’s why I’m a conservative of the classical liberal variety. But I digress.

  16. Alex Knapp says:

    Charles,

    But what I find creepy are the constant progressive attempts to undermine our common cultural understandings in favor of postmodern subjectivism, postnationalism or whatever banner they choose to sail under today.

    To which “constant progressive attempts” are you referring?

  17. Wayne says:

    I have more of an issue with a network editing coverage to fit their liberal agenda.

    If they are willing for their agenda to edit out “under god” from a sporting event design to promote patriotism then how often do they do it for everyday news and in their shows.

  18. PJ says:

    NBC wanted more time for commercials, and since they are a part of the god hating Liberal media they sure knew what they could cut.

  19. The Q says:

    This crock of shite that we are the “most diverse bla bla” is infantile. Drop me in any town or village or city in the USA and someone will speak English.

    Go to China and seek that common language and your odds are 50/50.

    Anyone travel there? Go to a museum or shrine and see the signage all in 4 languages.80 million chinese are muslim…can you imagine that in our country.

    China will implode (just like the old USSR) because of its diversity. The Uyghur hate the chinese and look nothing like them and speak their own language.

    This America “is so diverse” is bullshite as you travel from Maine to florida to oregon and see the same coffee, clothing, restaurant and department store retailers selling the same homogenized product …hell some African Americans wear Dockers for chrssakes.

    This chinese diversity is already rearing its ugly head as protests mount against Beijing’s repressive policies and ultimately will be responsible for her downfall

    So for Charles Austin to keep repeating the canard of “diversity” in America shows a true ignorance of so many in this country who have zero clue about the world around them.

  20. mattb says:

    Alex, I’m sympathetic to your point, but I think you fail to see how deeply connected sports are with the image of the Modern Nation. Perhaps there is no better example of this than the Olympic movement (for better or worse) — the march of Nations, the raising of Flags, the idea of dominating a sport, and finally the ability of host countries to submit their own “National” game.

    So that’s one side of the equation.

    The other thing that doesn’t make it “meaningless” is tradition. And yes, it can be argued that it’s empty tradition. That said, I imagine that a lot of people who just mouth the words would suddenly become quite adamant about the importance of keeping the pledge in there (despite its relatively arbitrary and very contextual reason for originally starting saying it).

  21. Ernieyeball says:

    AK asks: “…why on Earth Americans feel obligated to mutter through meaningless patriotic rituals before playing sports.”

    A. It makes them feel righteous. B. It make them feel pious. C. Since some of the political events that affect their lives (unemployment, price of gas, etc.) are out of their control. This is something they can get a handle on.

  22. The Q, hilarious. Interesting concept of diversity you have there driven by a lack of eductaion and driven by centuries of tyranny, as opposed to the one where a nation of immigrants are bound together by something other than tribal loyalities. And I’m the one who doesn’t know anything about the world around them.

    But I digress.

  23. Tano says:

    The United States of America is the most diverse, and most successfully diverse large industrialized country in the world, but we still need some common framework of understanding our history, culture and laws

    But you cannot impose such a thing on free people. It might be nice if free people voluntarily took up some common cultural concepts – but forcing them to do so is self-defeating.

  24. Alex, the usual attacks on our common culture, tradition, language, God, mom, and apple pie. Come on, they’re not that hard to spot are they?

  25. Tano says:

    This crock of shite that we are the “most diverse bla bla” is infantile.

    Actually I think your argumentative style is rather infantile. And your facts are wrong. There are people from literally every country in the world living in America – actual communities of people, not just diplomats and students. This is not the case in China.

    This country’s population is 99% made up of immigrants, or descendants of immigrants. Although China has a fair amount of diversity, it does not come close to what we have here. THe overwhelming majority of people in China are descendants of people who have lived in relatively the same place for thousands of years.

  26. And I think I agree with some that I could care less whether NBC started with the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance and find it a just little strange to be honest with you, along with some other commercial attempts to associate Father’s Day with martial commemorations, but the real issue was using an edited form of the pledge of allegiance. You throw a rock in the culture wars, don’t be surprised that some people pick up those very same rocks and start throwing them back.

    Alex, I hope you nuance of that position is clear.

  27. Alex Knapp says:

    Alex, the usual attacks on our common culture, tradition, language, God, mom, and apple pie.

    Who, with any measure of political or cultural influence, attacks these things?

    And who do you include in “our common culture” etc.? Because there’s an awful lot of diversity, even way at the beginning.

    Personally, I find the revisionist histories of the right to transform the Founding Fathers from flawed human beings with diverse opinions, philosophies, and religions into a group of superheroes who all believed in modern right-wing orthodoxy to be much more problematic for the Republic. There’s a lot to learn from the arguments between, say, Hamilton and Jefferson that you just don’t get if you see the Founding Fathers as a monolith.

  28. Liberty60 says:
  29. The Q says:

    Again, the inane ramblings of tano and austin to defend their “our minorities better speak english and quit trying to destroy our anglo cultural tradition by questioning and undermining the way white people who settled this country do things” screed.

    Naturally, you two completely miss the point that the immigrants who come here completely EMBRACE the “american” way in a manner that is alien to a hindu chinese or a Uygher who just happen to be snared in the boundaries of the PRC.

    And you nitwits forget that the under god phrase as countless commenters have referenced was put in during the cold war.

    So, by your logic, this country was a godless commie hell hole from the 1890s to 1954 since those “americans’ did not follow your knee jerk right wing code of conflating the dismissal of under god as Un-american.

    Oh, and guys don’t lecture me on china as I will bet you idiots have never been there and have zero credibility on the drivel you write regarding their diversity.

    The diversity of which you speak in the US is wholly genetic and not social or political. Their isn’t a labor party, a green party, a socialist party in this U.S etc.

    Everyone watches American Idol and eats McDonalds and wear jeans. The biggest stars of the “counter cultture black hip hop rapper” crowd boast of :”gettin’ rich or die tryin’…truly as All American an idea as J.D. Rockefellers Standard Oil.

    For you two to suggest we have this gaping diversity issue is one more mainfestation of the stupidity of your views

  30. Tano says:

    Again, the inane ramblings of tano and austin to defend their “our minorities better speak english and quit trying to destroy our anglo cultural tradition by questioning and undermining the way white people who settled this country do things” screed.

    Q,

    You got some serious issues, dude. You seem so hyped up about getting to type out insults to people that you lose all track of what you are saying. Your made up little quote is one of the most bizarre things anyone has ever tried to associate me with. Where do you get such crap?

    My response to your comment was limited to simply pointing out the facts of how wrong you are to somehow claim that China is a more diverse country than America.

    And you nitwits forget that the under god phrase as countless commenters have referenced was put in during the cold war.

    Huh? Where the hell do you get this from. Seriously man, are you on drugs or something? Where did I say anything about the Pledge – or “under god”? FWIW, I have long known the provenance of that phrase, and I have long opposed its presence in the Pledge – that is, at least in those few moments that I cared one way or the other about the Pledge….

    So, by your logic, this country was a godless commie hell hole from the 1890s to 1954 since those “americans’ did not follow your knee jerk right wing code of conflating the dismissal of under god as Un-american.

    Wow. You get a prize. You are the first person to ever call me a right winger!

    DUde, calm down. You made an incredibly stupid comment about diversity, and I called you on it. That is the only thing I said to you – aside from criticizing your obnoxious and juvenile writing style.

    The diversity of which you speak in the US is wholly genetic and not social or political. Their isn’t a labor party, a green party, a socialist party in this U.S etc.

    Huh? There certainly are such parties in the US. That they do not win many supporters is a different matter Please lay out for us the counter-example of the supposed political diversity that exists in China….

    Everyone watches American Idol and eats McDonalds and wear jeans.

    I have never watched American Idol, and I last ate at McD somewhen deep in the last century. I do occasionally wear jeans, but so do lots of people in China.

    For you two to suggest we have this gaping diversity issue is one more mainfestation of the stupidity of your views

    Y’know what? I do not find your arguments convincing.

  31. ken says:

    Saying the pledge before sporting events is just a small part of the socialist agenda. It has become so ubiquitous that no one even thinks twice about how it undermines our individuality and subverts loyalty to our team which represents all that is good an holy about ‘our’ section to a nation state instead.

  32. Neil Hudelson says:

    Tano,

    The Q has long been as insane as Zels/Wiley, jwest, and G.A., just a left wing version of them. It’s sad, but it’s true: both sides have their crazies.

  33. J. Stephen says:

    While I agree wholeheartedly with your point #2, it was incredibly tone deaf of NBC to edit out “under God.” Pledge originalism is kind of a silly counter-argument considering 1954 was 57 years ago.

    There are a number of very good reasons why NBC could have chosen to not air it at all. They should have picked one.

  34. The Q says:

    Tano, sorry i lumped you in with austin…yes you are correct in your rebuttal as to what you didn’t say.

    Just let me state that this “diversity” issue is cooked up by right wing loons who need to scapegoat and instill fear as red meat to the masses so that they will not look at the real problem in America and that is Bolsheviks like you who don’t play baseball, watch American idol or eat Mickey Ds. Perhaps Homeland security needs to check your birth certificate.

    Quick Tano, who won the world series last year?

    And you proved my point about the labor/green/socialist parties not gaining traction because our “faux diverse”culture wholly rejects them as out of the mainstream, while the homogenous swedes and Japanese have these parties which are substantial.

    N’est pas comrade?

  35. The Q says:

    Neil, take that joint out of your mouth and maybe I can respect your deranged statement above.

  36. mattb says:

    To be fair, when it comes the question of being united versus divided in diversity, Q is largely right about China. Like the USSR it really is a collection of smaller countries with VASTLY different traditions, beliefs, langauges, etc. China has been, and continues to be, an internal colonization project (something most Western Talking Heads don’t get as they think most of the country is like the Coastal Region.

    For us (or the US) the issue is the little bits of cultural diversity that remain visible in the general melting pot. In the case of China, the question is honestly what the heck — other than the power of the Chinese Army and the extreme poverty of the region — are the similarities that are keeping the provinces part of the country.

    Then again, exactly for that reasons, this is really an apples vs. pandas discussion — things that are so far apart the comparison really kinda fails to have any real use.

  37. Carol Harris says:

    NBC ……WHAT ARE YOU THINKING???? You are NOT the only network out there…..if you see fit to omit the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, I feel that leaving NBC out of my network viewing seems appropriate.

  38. Tano says:

    Just let me state that this “diversity” issue is cooked up by right wing loons who need to scapegoat and instill fear as red meat to the masses so that they will not look at the real problem in America

    Huh? The diversity of America is a simple empirical fact.

    and that is Bolsheviks like you who don’t play baseball, watch American idol or eat Mickey Ds. Perhaps Homeland security needs to check your birth certificate.

    Dude, you are out of control. I love baseball, and played it every chance i had in my life. I have a game on right now on the other screen.

    Quick Tano, who won the world series last year?

    The wrong team.

    And you proved my point about the labor/green/socialist parties not gaining traction because our “faux diverse”culture wholly rejects them as out of the mainstream, while the homogenous swedes and Japanese have these parties which are substantial.

    Actually, no. I think these parties do not gain much traction because we have a mature democracy. Think of elections, and indeed policy disputes, as analogous to a tournament. You start with lots of different candidates/policies. They are submitted to a testing process, be it primary elections, or just political debate. The weaker ones fall by the wayside. Coalitions form to unite interest groups that are specialized and weak by themselves. In alliances with others, they can be strong. Like a tournament, you work your way down to a final round, where two are left standing. In politics, that represents two rather broad coalitions that have been patched together. Then you have an election, and one wins (the finals).

    We have an influential green “party” in this country – it just happens to be subsumed as a faction within the broad Democratic party. We have a Christian theocrat party, a war-as-first-resort party, a millionaire’s interest party, a farmer’s party, a small businessman’s party – all those are subsumed as factions within the GOP.

    It is a mark of political immaturity for a country to have many independent parties that have not formed coalitions. The result is a situation where no party ever wins a majority – no party ever really has a mandate, and all the coalition building happens after the election in a relatively dysfunctional legislature.

    N’est pas comrade?

    Its “n’est-ce pas”. And it ain’t.

  39. Tano says:

    It’s sad, but it’s true: both sides have their crazies.

    I do find it particularly annoying when they are on my “side”

  40. Ben Wolf says:

    If there’s one thing America needs more of, it’s Jeebus in the pledge.

  41. anjin-san says:

    Quick Tano, who won the world series last year?

    Hmm. Is the right trying to claim baseball for it’s own now?

  42. judy mcnamara says:

    I care. Under God should, and must, be remove from pledge. It was not added unit 1954 at which time, in my opinion, was a real hit to our constitution which is a godless document.
    Also to all the teaparty keep going back in history for their lame arguements I say., go back to the original 1892 pledge. Oh, forgot to point out the original pledge was written by a Baptist minister who was also,………………..ready…………..a socialist.

  43. MBunge says:

    our constitution which is a godless document.

    Secular is not the same thing as godless.

    Mike

  44. The Q says:

    anjin-san,

    the “who won the world series last year” was a common question GI’s in world war 2 would ask a suspected “Nazi” infiltrator/spy. If he failed to answer correctly, immediate suspicion would be placed on whether he was truly “american” or a german poser.

    Hence, my question to tano was to find out if he truly is “american” as he tenaciously clings to his notion that we are more diverse than the PRC which is ludicrous, and that this diversity seeks to sinisterly undermine the nordic prussian tutonic anglo value system.

    Show me tano somewhere in the U.S. where english isn’t spoken, and I don’t mean a small section of LA where latino immigrants cluster.

    In china, there are tens of millions of people in population areas which speak a completely different language than the official Mandarin…this is unheard of in the U.S. where we have biological diversity, but nowhere near the cultural diversity as china.

    But what the frigg do I know about china as I only lived there for 5 years and go there on business 3-4 times a year. Tano obviously knows more about their diversity as he ignorantly blathers on and on

    BTW, tano, you wasted a lot of words regarding the dearth of smaller parties in the U.S. as compared to other countries and left out the obvious reason that any poli sci major could teil you in a nano second, but which you lamely left out…winner take all vs. proportional representation.

  45. Tano says:

    So Q, tell me, how large is the Peruvian community in China? Or the Argentinian? Or the Brazilian? Or the Salvadoran? Or the Mexican? Or the Senegalese? Or the Ethiopian? Or the South African? Or the Egyptian? Or the French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek? Or the Turkish? Or the Russian? Or the Iranian, or Lebanese, or Jewish? All of these communities, and far more, are established in the US. I grew up in the most diverse jurisdiction on Earth – Queens County in NYC. We had people from literally every country on Earth. This is simply not the case in China.

    Yes, there is a lot of diversity in China, relative to Sweden. But y’know what? I betcha that if you go to any remote place in China – say somewhere where they do not speak Mandarin, or maybe are Muslim or some other religion that one does not associate with Han Chinese, that you will find that some number of the people there have left and are now living somewhere in the US.

    This shouldn’t be too complicated. Chinese diversity is a function of the spread of centralized power over a defined area – an area that encompasses a fair diversity of peoples. The US diversity on the other hand, is a function of immigration. We have accepted immigrants from every country on earth – China does not.

    But what the frigg do I know about china

    The issue is not what you know about China. It is what you know about China, plus what you know about the US, and your ability to make intelligent comparisons between the two.

    you wasted a lot of words regarding the dearth of smaller parties

    Yes, I certainly do get the impression that words are wasted on you. But please explain, as I asked you before, about the great diversity of political parties in China…

  46. chris says:

    True, the original pledge didn’t contain the phrase ‘under God’; and the original Constitution didn’t contain the 13th amendment abolishing/prohibiting slavery. Does that mean we can drop that and go back to the original Constitution? (and NO, I’m not condoning slavery… I’m illustrating a point.)

    Tolerance is expected from the majority of the minority, but no one ever dares ask the minority to tolerate the majority. It should go both ways. As an example, if there is a Gay Pride parade I don’t feel threatened that Gays are ‘forcing’ their sexuality upon me. If someone displays a menorah during Hanukkah I don’t feel threatened that Jews are forcing their religion upon me. I say, ‘Hey, go for it. More power to you.’ So why should those who object to the pledge feel the phrase ‘under God’ forces religion upon them? Are they so weak in their beliefs that they feel threatened by someone else reciting the pledge? (and again for the thick-headed out there I am not anti-gay or antisemitic, again, I was just illustrating a point.)

    People may read this response and say, ‘Hey, the Amendments are different. Those are legal additions to the Constitution. Yes, as was pointed out by Alex Knapp, the pledge isn’t a legally binding oath. Neither is it a legal endorsement of any religion. No one HAS to speak the words ‘under God’; no one even HAS to say the pledge. So just don’t say it then if you don’t want to. No one is forcing you to recite it. You can stand silent, or sit silent. You can surf the channels till the U.S Open starts If you don’t like watching the pledge.

    I doubt that people reciting the pledge before a baseball game really feel they are being controlled by an ‘authoritarian society’. Get real. To some people it may stir inner feelings of patriotism. If so, good for them. More power to them, I say. To others it is just something you say before a game. I say ‘How do you do’ every time I greet a stranger. Why? It’s just something you say. It’s not because I really want to KNOW how a stranger is doing. It’s something you say to be polite as a greeting.

    To me the real danger to our freedoms are all the people who say ‘You cant say this! You cant say that! You cant say under God! You can’t say Merry Christmas! You can’t put an American flag on your bike when you ride it to school! You can’t do anything I disagree with because it offends me!’

    Tolerate not just the minority but also the majority. Let those who want say the pledge. If you don’t like it, just change the channel. Real simple. It’s called freedom. Let everyone have freedom. Even people who have different views than your own.

    You said about those complaining to NBC ‘had nothing better to do’. Why? Because you disagree with them. If they said something you agreed with you wouldn’t have made that statement, you would have praised people for addressing some issue.Well you know what I feel about people like you who have do this kind of nit-picking? You got nothing better to do.

  47. Lynda says:

    “Who cares?” I do!