The View From 1776

The Pledge Under God, Under Attack: Liberty vs License - Part Two

      http://www.thomasbrewton.com/index.php/weblog/the_pledge_under_god_under_attack_liberty_vs_license_part_two/

In this second article about the Supreme Court case to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, we review the early history of the movement in England and the United States that leads up to today’s challenge by atheist Michael Newdow.

———————————-

On the surface, Mr. Newdow’s challenge to “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance appears to be simply an assertion of his perception of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.  Whether intended by him or not, however, it is part of the relentless assault by liberals on the entire original basis of the Constitution.  Atheism, by definition, was an essential characteristic of the godless and amoral religion that the educated classes in France, Germany, England, and the United States came to regard in the 19th century as scientific knowledge.

 

This represented a 180 degree turn away from the philosophy of God-given, natural-law individual rights to life, liberty, and private property for which the colonists had fought in 1776.  Mr. Newdow’s challenge represents secular and materialistic socialism’s campaign to replace spiritual religion and personal morality with French theories of social justice.

We saw in Part One that the decapitation of Western civilization by the the 18th century’s so-called Age of Enlightenment led to dismissing as pre-scientific ignorance the moral codes that flow from spiritual religion.  The educated elite presumed that they now possessed superior knowledge that would empower them to manage the world’s political, economic, and social affairs in arbitrary ways to perfect humanity.  They and their bureaucratic administrators would right every wrong simply by promulgating appropriate regulations.

To be a member of the intelligentsia was to be an atheist.  Humans, they boasted, were not made in God’s image; man had made himself in his own image, a view reflected in Auguste Comte’s Religion of Humanity.  God, said Comte, was a product of ignorant imagination.  The true object of worship was Humanity itself.

Every Western society, from the early Greek city states onward, has had some atheists, people who were unconvinced by religious explanations of the nature of the world and of humans’ place in it.  But the religion of socialism went far beyond that in its attempt to destroy Christianity.  During the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, tens of thousands of Christians were executed on the guillotine.  For the first time in more than a thousand years, since Christianity became firmly settled as the official religion of the Roman Empire, a Western political state adopted terrorism to suppress the entirety of spiritual religion.

Michael Newdow and his liberal brethren are heirs to this powerful and savagely destructive history.

The central role of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory was touched upon in Part One.  Many different interpretations of Darwinian evolution were proclaimed in church pulpits and university lecture halls, and widely publicized in books, magazines, and newspapers.  It would be safe to say that hardly anyone in the United States had not at least heard of Darwin and his theory.

But, to an extent few are aware of today, his doctrine was the focal point for a fierce and extended debate in England and America from 1859 into the 1920s.  The battleground of the struggle was the idea of Progress.  Belief in Progress toward social perfection entailed, for most people, agnosticism, if not atheism.

Darwin’s speculative theory could easily be interpreted as supporting the parallel theory that political societies were also progressing, i.e., evolving, toward higher and better states of development.  From this come today’s fanciful dreams of world peace, abolition of poverty, and universal individual liberties through the collective efforts of the UN.  Needless to say, the idea of Progress was seized eagerly by socialists as a “scientific proof” that English and American societies should no longer be fettered by repressive ideas of Christian morality.

 

Out of this came the Progressive political movement in the United States after the election of President William McKinley in 1896.  As with its spiritual progeny, today’s liberalism, the Progressive movement drew support from both Democrats and Republicans.  Seeds for the Progressive movement were planted in our most prominent colleges and universities, where faculty members had studied for advanced degrees in German universities.

 

In Germany, where the socialist party held greater power than in almost any other country at the time, higher education was sharply oriented toward collectivistic and statist views of government.  German emphasis was upon cooperation and obedience to the political state.  Individualism and marketplace competition, so distinctly English and American, were loathed.

 

In our tradition, individuals’ rights of private property, beginning with Magna Carta in 1215, were the source of all our political liberties.  Newly minted PhDs returned from Germany imbued with the belief that private property and individualism were anti-social.  Founded to train Protestant ministers, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and their fellow colleges steadily converted to the secular humanism of the socialist religion.  Their young graduates became the minions of Progressivism.

Fortunately, their numbers were small.  Very few Americans attended college before the GI Bill after World War II.  Those who did were taught the new scientific theories of socialism.  For example, the young ladies who were employed as social workers in Jane Addams’s Hull House and the other settlement houses in the 1890s proudly identified themselves as socialists.  They were among the first generation of American women to graduate in some numbers from college.

After the prosperous 1950s, young Americans went to college in numbers that dwarfed previous attendance.  Following the normal rebellious instincts of youth, they became avid converts to socialism.  Bill Clinton’s generation thus became the mindless mobs in the streets that began literally to wreck society.  Underground sects like SDS, Weatherman, the Black Panthers, and the Symbionese Liberation Army brought back the terrorist traditions of their socialist and anarchist grandparents, who had dynamited public places and assassinated hundreds of businessmen and public officials from the 1880s to the 1920s.

This is the direct antecedent to Mr. Newdow’s attack.

A parenthetical note in that regard: employing obviously circular reasoning, a professor at a noted university recently told interviewers that the predominance of liberals among college faculties (more than 90 percent) proves the validity of liberal-socialism.  If most educated people are liberals, then traditionalists by his definition are uneducated and unworthy to become faculty members.  The element of circularity is that, if most college graduates are liberals, this proves only that liberal education is effective in producing liberals.  Would he also argue that, because graduates of Islamic extremist madrassas become terrorists, this demonstrates that non-terrorists are ignorant?

Two major changes in the make-up of America gave impetus to the Social-Gospel, socialist movement after the Civil War.  First, industrial production expanded tremendously in response to the war, then expansion westward put industry, agriculture, and railroads into high gear.  Second, with this explosion of economic activity came a never satisfied need for cheap labor.  Between the end of the Civil War and America’s entry into the First World War in 1917, more than twenty million immigrants flooded into the country.

 

In contrast to earlier immigration waves, mostly from Great Britain and northern Europe, these new arrivals came from southern, central and eastern Europe.  They had never known any government but autocracy, and property ownership symbolized tyranny to them.  Knowing nothing about the English individuality rooted in property rights that was the basis of our Constitution, these new immigrants were oriented toward socialistic collectivism.

They faced horrendous squalor and disease in the packed immigrant sections of the great cities, as well as dangerous, burdensome, and poorly paid labor conditions in workshops, factories, and mines.  By the time of Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, from 1901 to 1908, French concepts of government-controlled social welfare began to replace Christian charity as the source of aid to the poor and unfortunate.  What had for centuries been a matter of personal morality became a political issue.  For the first time the Federal government, following the lead of French and German socialists, presumed to regulate personal life in ever more numerous ways.

Mr. Newdow simply wants to continue that effort and remove yet another barrier in the path of French socialism in America.