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The Socialist Origins of the Pledge of Allegiance
Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist, wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 as a critique of the rampant greed, misguided materialism, and hyper-individualism of the Gilded Age. But you'd never know that by reading CNN contributor Bob Greene's column earlier this week called "The Peculiar History of the Pledge of Allegiance." He sort of air-brushed Bellamy's politics out of that history.
to read Peter Dreier's article published on 12/24/2013, click on
America now confronts a new version of the Gilded Age, brought upon by Wall Street greed and corporate malfeasance. The gap between rich and poor is still widening. Americans are feeling more economically insecure than at any time since the Depression. They are upset by the unbridled selfishness and political influence-peddling demonstrated by banks, oil companies, drug companies, insurance companies, and other large corporations. They are angry at the growing power of American-based global firms who show no loyalty to their country, outsource jobs to low-wage countries, avoid paying taxes, and pollute the environment.
When we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we should remind ourselves that it was written by a socialist who believed that "liberty and justice for all" meant more equality and a stronger democracy.
Peter Dreier teaches politics at Occidental College and is author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, published by Nation Books.