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On Sunday, June 19th, NBC decided to show a patriotic montage during the showing of the U.S. Open golf tournament (Patriotic video). As a result, they committed a monumental error in their omissions.

The Pledge of Allegiance that I have been reciting since grade school has included the words “one nation under God, indivisible”. That any of the words from this very short, but very powerful recitation be omitted is very noticeable and I would struggle to believe that their omissions were a “mistake”.

I don’t care what religion you are.

I don’t care what political party that you support.

I only care that you would attempt to infringe upon any of my freedoms.

But, in case you haven’t noticed, the various TV networks through their news shows and their newscasters are making every effort to BECOME the news story with their clear bias of what they are reporting. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is.

I am of the opinion that NBC was attempting to appease a very small number of viewers who object to references to God and must have mistakenly believed that removing the “offensive” words would cause no problems. They now understand that “little things” mean a lot to the American public.

If NBC saw a problem with the verbiage that was going to drive the Patriotic video, then why didn’t they set the montage to an instrumental musical number that would contain no offensive phrasing?

I believe in God and I believe that the Bible is the word of God. It is how I was raised. I attended a Methodist church and I married a Lutheran. I support faith-based charities, but I do not attend church on a regular basis. My only closeness to God is by happenstance; in that one of my brothers-in-law is a reverend. I believe that the Reverend Neel can summon up a little something special for me if the occasion should require it. At least; I think it gives me an edge. Well; even if it doesn’t get me closer to God, at least I am closer to my Southern brethren and my dear sister.

I have had events occur in my life that have left me believing that there was an intervention of the highest order, but these same events have also left me questioning why a compassionate God would allow the events to even occur! I don’t view God as someone who is Santa Claus-like or like David Copperfield for that matter, but I can’t believe that some of my misfortune was a part of God’s plan for me. I truly do not have the understanding of the theology nor do I have a divinity degree that will unlock these questions in my mind.

For those with a different belief system from mine; I respect your right to believe in something or someone else; if at all. I don’t wish you any ill will, unless you practice a religion that calls for my death. Then, I have a problem with it.

I struggle with sentiment that is critical either way on religious/non-religious beliefs, because we are a nation that was founded by those persecuted and in many cases, murdered for their religious beliefs.

We are a nation that has always been identified as the land of opportunity, a melting pot of many cultures and a tolerant people. The freedom to choose has always been a hallmark and an accepting/inclusive attitude among the different races, genders and religions has defined us as a nation.

 I hope that we are not seeing an erosion to our society’s moral base because the majority has become apathetic and a hodge-podge of common causes from fringe groups has become more vocal.

I believe that when we engage in events that have us declaring our citizenship, stewardship and ownership of all of those things that creates our patriotic feelings, NO ONE has the right to attempt to stifle those feelings. If someone who doesn’t feel the same way is at the same event, then they are there to raise issues counter to mine. Again; I won’t bother you and your position, as long as you don’t bother mine. I won’t put you in a headlock and force you to sing “God Bless America”, but I WILL reject Jeremiah Wright’s assessment of America.

Dissension is not new to me. I dissented and rebelled numerous times while growing up. I engaged in protests, strikes and civil disobedience and I won’t deny anyone else’s right, as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others.

As I have said in the past; I have been witness to some of the most historically significant events of the past 50 years. If you want to talk about dissension; a couple of very stark examples come to mind and I was witness to them via TV.

Ironically, both occurred in 1968.

First there were the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. It is referred to as the “Black Power salute”. After winning the 200 meter run, U.S. runners Tommie Smith and third place finisher, John Carlos each donned a single black glove and then raised their gloved, clenched fists into the air as the National Anthem was played during their medal ceremony. At the time, I thought it epitomized a defining moment of defiance in our country. Smith and Carlos were sent home as punishment. But, their symbolic gesture was etched into the minds of those who witnessed it.

The other example is the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, IL. I will never forget the chant “the whole world is watching” as Chicago police were ordered into Grant Park to break up the demonstration of thousands of anti-war protesters using the setting of the Convention as their backdrop. As Chicago police showed no mercy as they swung their nightsticks and kicked protesters who fell to the ground, protesters yelled “the whole world’s watching” as television cameras caught the brutal beatings live and brought them into our living room TVs.

Also of note in 1968 was the running of Alabama governor George Wallace, an avowed segregationist, for President and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dissension played a role in their lives as well. Both met with violence as a response to their dissent. Wallace was shot in 1972 and left paralyzed from the waist down. King, Jr. was subjected to all kinds of violence as a civil rights activist before being shot and killed by James Earl Ray.

In this country, I believe that the information-all of the information-should be presented and decisions of interpretation, validity and use of that information left in the hands of the person (s). Omissions can dramatically change every aspect or intent of the information. What we are given should not be decided by some self-righteous/self-important “editor” or “program director”. Censorship comes with unintended consequences.

It is that interpretation, validation and use of the information that establishes the basis for our belief systems, moral compass and judicious decision-making that frames how we spend our time on this Earth. We should not be cajoled or bullied; beaten or killed because we don’t share the same views.

If we are asked at a public assembly to bow our heads and pray; if you don’t wish to do so, then don’t, but don’t deny me my freedom to do so.

If you don’t want to observe the religious holidays, that’s OK with me, but don’t tell me that I have to take MY decorations down.

If you don’t hold the same political views as me, I can respect your right to disagree, as long as it is done respectfully, but don’t call me names and berate my intelligence, because we do not agree on a political course of action.

I happen to believe that we are and always will be one nation under God.

You don’t have to agree with me.

But, be tolerant and respectful…please.


The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. This article is protected by federal copyright laws and cannot be re-produced in any form.

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Comment by Mike France on June 22, 2011 at 2:08pm
Nicely put.

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