Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Progress Report on Persective on the Pledge

I have been putting my efforts recently in completing a short book version of Perspective on the Pledge. I have a draft version of the whole book ready, at Perspective on the Pledge.

If anybody wants to read a copy and send me back a list of corrections, I would appreciate it.

The book now contains a new argument against, "In God We Trust", which I have cut and pasted below.

But there is another important component of a motto that this version would not capture, and it is a component that sorely needs to be mentioned. Mottos are not merely descriptive. They are prescriptive. They do not tell you want the members of the group are. They tell you what the members of the group should be.

The Marine motto, ‘Semper Fidelis’ (or its spoken counterpart ‘Semper Fi’) is not just a description of what marines are. It is a statement of what a marine should be – what all should strive to be. Any marine that does not live up to the motto – any marine that is not faithful to his comrades in arms – is looked upon as a disgrace, as something unworthy of the name ‘Marine’.

The same is true of the Boy Scout motto, ‘Be Prepared’. Nobody thinks that all Boy Scouts actually are prepared at all times. This is an ideal to be strived for, even if it is never obtained. Boy scouts who are not prepared fall short of this ideal. They are the types of scouts that, according to this motto, should feel shame at their shortcomings, and that they should strive to correct in the future.

So, when the United States adopts as its motto, ‘In God We Trust’ they are fully aware of the fact that not all of us trust in God. However, the government is telling its people that it is the official government position that an American who does not trust in God is like a Marine who is not faithful, or a boy scout who is not prepared. He is somebody who falls short of the ideal, something that is actually unworthy of being in the group that uses the motto the name ‘American’. In the case of ‘In God We Trust’ we are being told that those who do not trust God are not worthy of being Americans – and that this is the government’s official position.

This, of course, is something that the government has no right to say.

This is not only false. It is malicious hate-mongering. Adopting this national motto does nothing less than adopt the position that the first and most important quality that an American has is that of a bigot eager to ignore and to violate the principles of justice and equality before the law. The government has absolutely no right, and absolutely no just cause, to adopt the official position that a person who does not trust in God simply fails to live up to the standards of being a good Amerycan.

Then, the proponents of such a law say that it has passed into the realm of ‘ceremonial deism’ which has lost its religious meaning. As I illustrate in the story, this is proved false by the vocal reaction that people have to removing this phrase. That motivation is a lie – another falsehood as blatant as claiming that 2. + 2 = 5.

Furthermore, I would dare any person who states that the Pledge or motto has lost its meaning due to use to stand before a Marine and state that because this motto is so widely used and referred to in Marine culture, that ‘Semper Fidelis’ to a Marine is now nothing more than ceremonia, void of any normative strength at all.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh! Humor is a great way to start the day.

You have inspired me to write a story too. My protagonist, Nancy will be alone in a world where Atheism is popular. They will promote the religion of Science (Scientalogy) and Sodomy.

The Godless Sodomites will make Nancy feel an outcast for her belief in a higher power and creator. It will highlight the injustice of living in a world as a straight female surrounded by Gay men. The bigotry will be exposed! In Addition, all the people "born" of the artificial womb will have cone shaped heads.

Thanks for demonstrating that literary masturbation and Straw man arguments are both awesome! Are there plans for a sequel?

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Great. You did not read the story, you merely reacted to the description.

The story is not about 'feelings'. It largely takes the form of platonic dialogues that examine the arguments used in defense of the practice and, by means of a 'reductio ad absurdum' show the arguments to be invalid.

I do not think that there is anywhere in the story where I talked about feelings.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Actually, Professor Rowe, allow me to be a bit more specific in my response.

Actually, let me be a little more specific.

Chapter 1 has to do with the claim that 'under God' does not promote religion because it is not prescriptive. I argue that the claim that 'under God' is not prescriptive is as absurd as saying that 'indivisbile' and 'with liberty and justice for all' are not prescriptive.

Chapter 3 has to do with the claim that the Pledge is not a religious exercise but a patriotic exercise. Even if we do take it as a patriotic exercise, it says that patriotic Americans are 'under God', and those who are not 'under God' are not patriots.

The rest of the story points out similar absurdities to other claims made in defense of 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance (such as the defense that it reflects our heritage), and does so in a way that makes those absurdities glaringly obvious.

CrypticLife said...

I read the posting, and have a few corrections. I put the page number, and then a substitution clause. I included a little more than the actual wrong word, in order to aid identification. A couple of corrections I couldn't quite fit into this mold.

Thank you very much for writing this, Alonzo. Even as an atheist, my initial response is similar to Paul's in they story: even knowing it's wrong, even writing a blog posting that it's wrong, I didn't think it very worthwhile to fight over. You've given me cause to reconsider here. I hope compiling these corrections serves some small function in helping.

p 5 s/right think when/right thing when/
p 5 s/Principle Hadley/Principal Hadley/
p 7 s/gentile/gentle/
p 10 s/gong/going/
p 13 s/Principle Hadley/Principal Hadley/
p 13 s/Principle Hadley/Principal Hadley/
p 13 s/that devote/that we devote/
p 20 s/allegiance?"/allegiance?/
p 31 s/Principle Hadley/Principal Hadley/
p 38 Nobody at this school feels oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase "under God." I don?t. /this should refer to "white"
p 40 s/but to bigoted/but to be bigoted/
p 43 s/Principle Hadley/Principal Hadley/
p 47 psycho analysis -- never mind, this is correct ;)
p 48 s/proof better proof possible/ I don't know what/
p 51 s/councilor/counselor/
p 53 s/isle/aisle/
p 53 s/two year old/two-year old/
p 54 s/two year old/two-year old/
p 54 s/isle/aisle/
p 58 s/basting/basking/??? not sure
p 63 s/Professor Hadley/Principal Hadley/
p 65 s/American/Amerycan/
p 68 "incredulous" is the state of a person's belief, not descriptive of an act
p 68 s/not belongs/belongs/
p 68 s/any marine that/any marine who/

CrypticLife said...

"Prof" Michael Rowe,

Usually, when you note a logical flaw in an argument such as straw man, you're supposed to identify the part of the argument that is the straw man. Otherwise, you've noted nothing at all.

The arguments here work logically perfectly as well as if he had NOT substituted race for religion.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

cryptic life

Thank you for the edits. I have incorporated them into my master copy.