July 4th, A Good Time to See Nationalism as Religion.

In America's courtrooms, judges use the civil religion excuse to leave those two words (UG) in the Pledge, and those four words (IGWT) in lots of places.

Search on "nationalism as religion" and one of the links you'll see is


A weekly news magazine article years ago described similarities. Elite males in black, sometimes colorfully beribboned, dresses. Silence or whispering only in courtrooms and churches.

And this, nationalism requires patriotism unto death and religion requires faith unto death.

The two are so much alike. If we don't keep them separate they will be dangerous.

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Tom, I think it is religion. Everyone equates it with Drumpf whom they all feel would be a great president. The man doesn't have a plan and he is a demigod and not a politician. People are working every day to make nationalism and religion fit together. Yes, it is very dangerous.

I've heard residents of other countries are appalled to hear Americans say that a relative "fought and died for that flag," wondering why anybody would do that.  Obviously residents of other countries have gone to war and died for their country; to me that makes as much sense a dying for a piece of cloth.  Until fairly recent times an American could only be classified as a conscientious objector to war if backed by a church.  At least that's no longer necessary.  I respect my country, when possible, but I don't worship it -- or anything else.

If our Constitution is an "inspired" document from god, then that same god had different ideas for other people in other countries. It would seem that this "god" cannot make up it's mind, but a lot of believers would see no problems with that.

There are superficial similarities, though as atheists frequently need to point out (when people claim atheism is religion), the definition of religion generally requires some form of supernatural belief which is not part of nationalism. I hate to make too much of these types of analogies, other than the fact that they may reveal components of human social nature. I would also question the assumption that the US is unusually nationalistic, especially when compared to the nationalism in Europe until WWII.

Some of the parallels he discusses are components that develop in any large hierarchical organization, sometimes out of practicality (can you imagine a court without restrictions on who can talk and when?)

When I was in Pentecostalism it was all the idea of who or what you "worship" because you were only supposed to worship god. You know where this went, of course. Objects of worship could be your wife, car, money, house, kids, TV, possessions, etc. If you worshiped these things they became your "religion."

"Johnny, turn that thing off and stop worshiping that TV."

Pentecostals are much like the old biblical moaners with ashes and sackcloth except that the added props are gone. They still do a lot of moaning.

Daniel, happily, I've never had an employer like that.

As to your final paragraph, you and I might be military-socio-political twins.

After we saved the free world from fascism and rebuilt a badly damaged world, our foreign policy changed. A few months before I before I returned from sea (not land) combat in the Korean War, Kermit Roosevelt asked Truman to let him and the CIA overthrow an elected gov't in Iran. Truman refused. After I returned from the war I voted for Eisenhower and a year later he told KR and the CIA to go ahead. They did so and we installed a compliant Shah and trained his secret police to frighten the Iranian people into obedience.

In 1954 France lost her colonies in Indo-China. Claiming to be saving So. VN from communism, an economic system that would have died of its own dead weight, we started down a path to the VN War. In truth we wanted the oil under the Tonkin Gulf, which Chevron in 1978 demonstrated by negotiating with Red China by drilling rights there. [Search the web on oil and the Gulf.]

By this time, the pro-democracy Iranian people had overthrown the Shah. The ayatollahs took over and started a religious tyranny.

In short, America spent billions on empire and EARNED 9/11. Dammit!

At home the GOP's far right around started calling Eisenhower a communist sympathizer and expelling moderates. Needing more voters, the party recruited Southern Dems and they brought their racism into the Party. Reagan, without first counting the evangelicals, invited them to join the Party. With skilled leaders and a lot of eager-to-save-America workers, they took over many state GOP parties. They failed to take over the largely Libertarian GOP. Today's GOP mess followed.

End of lecture. In a few days I will join an effort to defeat corrupt Dems in California's legislature. For info, http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Only-voters-c...

Whoops, that one has a pay-wall. I can get a no-wall link and will add it.

Adding to the above.

Search on "california legislature transparency act" (without the " marks) for a no-wall link.

The "ture" there is important.

The search will show you a link to what we the California voters are doing AND a link to what the legislature is doing to defeat us: the California Legislative Transparency Act.

The legislature has twice in previous years put almost-identical proposals on the ballot and defeated our attempts to reform campaign financing. If you can handle legal talk, read the final section of the California LegislaTURE Transparency Act and you will see our determination to defeat "our" Legislature.

A perhaps necessary addition:

...GOP's far right by 1960 was calling Eisenhower a communist sympathizer....

Seeing both nationalism and religion as beyond examination, check an item from the July 4th Popular Resistance newsletter: https://www.popularresistance.org/newsletter-real-history-of-revolu...

Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech


given in 1852, remains one of the best political speeches in all of US history. In it he criticizes the nation from the perspective of slaves and much of what he said remains true today:

. . . your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Whoops, the above remembering-the-greatest link drew a blank. I searched on
"Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech" and found it at http://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2945.

The British author Llewelyn Powys accompanied his brother, novelist John Cowper Powys, to a women's club where he gave a lecture. Here is his reaction to the pledge of allegiance, recited before the lecture:

One afternoon during that winter, I attended a lecture that my brother gave at a certain women's club. Before he spoke, the two hundred and fifty members who made up his audience all stood up and began to recite, like a set of Sunday-school children, a patriotic hymn, and at a given moment thrust out long arms in the direction of the American flag, I was, I must confess it, a trifle taken aback. Here was a gathering of women who were probably the leaders of society in this particular neighbourhood, and yet they apparently felt no misgiving at taking part in so provincial a display. When I considered the intellectual aridity, the lack of taste, capable of producing such a ceremony upon such an occasion, I could only gasp. Yet the set expression on those female faces, as they pointed at the Stars and Stripes. just as savages might point at the totem of their tribe, has remained always in my memory, to remind me, when I grow unduly optimistic, of the unenlightenment which lies like a miasmic mist in the way of any charming and tolerant civilization.

Llewelyn Powys, The Verdict of Bridlegoose,  Chapter IV

Yet the set expression on those female faces, as they pointed at the Stars and Stripes. just as savages might point at the totem of their tribe, ....

Who does not see that facial expression every time people say the Pledge?

Imagine a known atheist being elected a Toastmasters club's president, even after I warned the members that if they elect me they will learn some parliamentary law (at which I am expert).

The club's first president had imposed the Pledge without the vote the bylaws require and I cited that violation to take the Pledge away without a vote. To two protesters (one of them xian enough and foolish enough to tell me the xian nation lie) I said, "If you want the Pledge back, in four weeks you will have an opportunity to bring it back in a parliamentary manner."

I told them that each week I will explain a parliamentary rule they can use to block attempts at tyranny: a point of order, and an appeal from a president's adverse ruling, etc. They voted to allow me five minutes at each meeting. Knowing I would have settled for three minutes, I did not laugh as they voted.

I also told them the words from the US Supreme Court's 1943 Barnette decision that reversed the 1940 Gobitis decision requiring children to recite the Pledge:

...by having [the state's] public school children share a common experience at those periods of development when their minds are supposedly receptive to its assimilation, by an exercise appropriate in time and place and setting, and one designed to evoke in them appreciation of the nation's hopes and dreams, its sufferings and sacrifices.

The week came that I would have accepted a motion to restore the Pledge and no one made it. Nor did anyone move to impeach their atheist president. Two years later the Pledge is still gone.





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