“Under God” is a phrase that’s gotten some attention since the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the phrase (inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954) unconstitutional.
“Under God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance during the height of the Cold War. It was inserted (without any popular vote and very little discussion) during a time in the U.S. when members of the Communist Party USA were losing jobs, facing prison sentences, slander and vilification and having friends and relatives hounded by J. Edgar Hoover’s (and capitalist America’s) FBI for the crime of thinking. McCarthyism ruined thousands of lives, yet the solution to that in the minds of the exploiters and slanderers was to imprint “God’s approval” of exploitation into the minds of the working class.
Looking at what has occurred in the U.S. since we were all “under God” makes one think that perhaps the change should have read, “under the boot of the ruling class.” Not many would want their children to pledge any such thing, but at least honesty would have prevailed. Let’s look:
There have been rollbacks and attempted rollbacks of gains made by the working class in the early 20th century. More than 45 million have no health care. More than 40 percent of Black children are born into poverty. The Vietnam War caused the deaths of two million in Vietnam and more than 50,000 U.S. troops fighting for imperialism in that region of the world. American ruling-class activities against the working class around the world continued, including in Haiti, Panama and Grenada. The ruthless U.S. capitalist blockade against socialist Cuba has reached its fourth decade. Today’s “War on Terrorism” is nothing but imperialism on speed.
While innocent schoolchildren took the pledge, the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program), designed to destroy through lies and assassinations the Black liberation movement in the U.S., moved right along like a juggernaut of mayhem with one purpose, to stop workers in the U.S. from fighting for freedom from racism, exploitation and state-sponsored ignorance. COINTELPRO also specifically targeted alliances formed between primarily Black liberation organizations and white progressive movements. There are now more than two million people behind bars in the U.S. Political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier remain locked in cages.
Since “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, the death penalty is still being implemented, a barbarity out of place in any so-called “civilized” nation.
The ploy of somehow aligning capitalism with “God” didn’t begin, nor did it end, with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s adding “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. Another instance of such shameless behavior on the part of U.S. capitalists and those working in their interests was when “In God We Trust” was by law to be imprinted on all coins and bills after July 30, 1955.
As a congressman, Lyndon Baines Johnson (D-Tx.) introduced HR-619 on June 29, 1955, “to provide that all currency shall bear the inscription “In God We Trust.” The bill was passed with no serious debate. Later, of course, we all found out Johnson had his own problems, not the least of which was sending to their deaths thousands of young men (and women) in what Johnson knew was (for U.S. imperialism) a failed effort in Vietnam.
“E Pluribus Unum” (“of many, one”) was printed on some U.S. currency before HR-619 was made the law. “Of many, one” of course is just what the ruling class fears, that the working class internationally will unite and make our many struggles against racism, sexism, imperialist war and exploitation one united struggle against capitalism. That’s the only way to get out from under the boot of the ruling class. E Pluribus Unum.
Barbara Jean Hope is a reader in Philadelphia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org