Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Allegiance: Obama's Hand and Heart

Chris Ortiz at Chalcedon wonders about Barak Obama's (occasional) failure to put his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is played or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited.

I'm very sensitive to this issue of "allegiance." Years before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that schoolchildren should not be permitted to say the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, that court ruled that I could not have a license to practice law in California, even though I had passed the California Bar Exam and was otherwise completely qualified. I've provided details here:
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In a nutshell, my allegiance to God is greater than my allegiance to the government. If the government commands me to do something that God forbids me to do, or if the government forbids me to do something that God says I must do, I have decided in advance that I "ought to obey God rather than man." A federal court in Los Angeles said the U.S. Supreme Court says such defective allegiance renders a man unfit to be an attorney. My final brief on appeal before the Ninth Circuit was written pro bono by three well-known Professors of Constitutional Law and a former California State Supreme Court Justice. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear my appeal.

For this reason I no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Not that I'm not permitted to do so, but that I do not wish to. After all, if the government says I don't have enough patriotism to become a lawyer, I surely don't have enough allegiance to say the Pledge.

My feelings were further confirmed when I saw video of tanks crushing children's toys at Waco, before incinerating 80+ Americans, all the while waving an American flag on their whip antenna. The flag has become for me a symbol of tyranny.

It used to be the case, when America was a Christian nation, that only Christians were allowed to become attorneys or hold public office. Atheists were excluded. This has been reversed. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared we are now an atheistic nation, and Christians -- who reserve their ultimate loyalty to God -- are now persona non grata. They do not have requisite allegiance to the Messianic State. I discovered dozens of reported court cases (I'm sure there are many more unreported cases) in which Christians lost their jobs or were denied American citizenship because their allegiance to God was greater than their allegiance to the government. I cannot pledge my allegiance to such a government.

The Pledge is actually "to the Republic" for which the flag stands. But we are no longer a republic.

When I first saw the video of Obama defying the Flag Code (TITLE 36, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 3, § 301), I had a great deal of respect for the man, regardless of his reasons, for standing alone in public. But it appears that no principle is involved, as he sometimes does, and sometimes does not, recite the Pledge or place his hand over his heart for the National Anthem.

I guess that irritates me. I don't understand why Obama does not feel obligated by law, custom, tradition, or public norms to do what all other ordinary Americans do. He strikes me now as an egotist. (You may say I'm the egotist, since I don't ever say the Pledge. But the reason I initially admired Obama was because it is very difficult for me to buck the crowd. I don't like to stand out or call attention to myself, and I usually try to arrive late to meetings where the Pledge is recited, just to avoid a confrontation. I went through years of litigation, probably reading more than a thousand court opinions and law review articles on the issue of allegiance and "the separation of church and state" in order to convice the government that I have sufficient allegiance to be given a Bar card. I take this issue seriously. It goes to the core of our national identity. The issue is not just flag ceremony. It is whether we are a nation "under God." The government says we are not. And when the government is not "under God," the government is god.

In fact, when the Pledge is recited, I defy the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by saying only two words of the Pledge: "under God.")

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