Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Fiddling While Rome Burns

From the New York Times, Nov.1: 'Citing a crisis of national identity and mass confusion among Americans about their nation’s motto, the House on Tuesday voted on a resolution “reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States.”'

There was absolutely no governmental purpose for this resolution. The motto was not due to expire, nor was there any move afoot to change it. The only purpose the introduction of this resolution has is try to make the people that oppose it (nine Representatives, eight Democrats and one Republican) look bad.

Interestingly, "In God We Trust" has only been the "official" motto since 1956, when it replaced "E Pluribus Unum" ("Out of Many, One") during the Red Scare of that decade.

I just happened to find a very timely piece on MoveOn.Org's Daily Share page, which came from "Mad As Hell Liberals’" Facebook page. , which relates:

'The original Constution of the United States that was ratified in 1789 had only one reference to religion: [Article 6] No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

The de facto motto of the United States, adopted as part of the Great Seal of the U.S. by Congress in 1782 was "E Pluribus Unum" ("Out of Many, One"). Congress changed it 174 years later  (1956) to "In God We Trust."

The original "Pledge of Allegiance" was written in 1892 by Baptist minister Francis Bellamy, who did not include the words, "under God."  Those were added by Congress 62 years later (1954).

The U.S. didn't issue paper currency until 1861, and "In God We Trust" didn't appear on it for 96 years (1957).'

All these changes took place during the Red Scare of the 1950's, when it was deemed important to distinguish the good old USA from Russia and "godless Communism." Of course this made an additional stick with which to beat political foes, and Senator McCarthy and others since have done so readily.

Again quoting from the Times article: "

Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, said earlier this year that he would try to prevent votes on measures that were not “substantive and meaningful.” The House did not vote, for example, on an independent resolution, passed in the Senate this year, to honor the troops who carried out the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. His office did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday."
That makes the purpose of this resolution pretty transparent: the Republican-controlled House won't consider a resolution that might reflect well on anything the Administration did. However, they will introduce one to gain political advantage for themselves. The nine Representatives who did what in my view was the right thing and voted against the resolution are of course being pilloried by conservative bloviators. The Republicans are much more interested in "ruling" than "governing". They want the power to command by fiat if possible, but seem to have no interest in doing anything useful with the power when they have it.

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Tags: politics
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