Friday, October 3, 2008
Pledge of Allegiance Blues- 72 min
The movies starts off with a song by Michael Newdow, the protagonist of the film. Now, Newdow may be a talented Physician and Attorney, but... let's just say I won't be running out to buy his CD anytime soon. Newdow tells the tale of how the originally secular Pledge of Allegiance had the words, "under god" inserted in 1954 by Congress (under the prodding of the Knights of Columbus) during a fit of McCarthyism. When Dr. Newdow's daughtre was compelled to recite the new and "improved" pledge in public school, he decided to sue the school and Congress to have "under god" removed. He argued his case all the way to the US Supreme court.... More on that later.
There is a great interview with Alan Dershowitz, professor of lay at Harvard, where he gives a great primer on how the freamers of the Constitution really felt about religion back in 1776. He details how many, including Thomas Jefferson, despised religion. Other historians also chime in to give a brief history of the pledge and how it was changed.
Sandy Rios (of Concerned Women for America) makes an apperance and shows her extreme ignorance during her interview and clips from her radio show. In one clip, she comments how "great it is that, for now, Terri Schiavo is receiving food and water...." She totally mispronounces Terri's name, passing her own values on this woman that she has never met, and can't even pronounce her name correctly. The hypocrisy was palpable.
The movie then moves from the Pledge of Allegiance to other recent Church/State collisions. We are shown a rally by Christian activists, who have apparently made a hobby out of total disregard for the Constitution, in front of a courthouse where Judge Roy Moore decided to display a 10-Commandments monument. After this, the program moves to an interview with Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, who has been in and out of the courts to defend the 1st Ammendment. Then it's off to an interviw with an atheist in San Fransisco, who has a fabulously bizarre hairdo for an otherwise normal-looking guy, who sued over a giant concrete cross on public property (Mt. Davidson).
Then we catch up with Newdow again with his Pledge case at the Supreme Court. Of course, there are more singing, praying, sign-holding Christian nuts outside (don't these people have jobs?). Well, in the end, Newdow has his case thrown out on the grounds that he did not have standing to bring the lawsuit, as he does not have custody of his daughter, who he was filing on behalf of. He has since refiled his case on behalf of other parents, and is working his way through the courts again.
Alan Dershowitz leaves us with some discouraging opinions about Newdow's quest, and a grim outlook of the final result. Saying that this is the wrong time and the wrong court to bring this case to, Dershowits says that if Newdow loses the case that it will set a dangerous precident that will lower the wall of separation between church and state. And even if he wins, he will ultimately lose because Dershowitz sees a constitutional amendment as the inevitable next step by a nation hell-bent on keeping god and government intertwined.