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2016 Texas Republican Platform - Part 4, Patriotism / Holidays

Republican ElephantThis entry is part of a series taking a look at the latest Texas Republican Party Platform. For a list of all entries in this series, go to the Introduction. Today, I'm going to look at patriotism & holidays. I know they're not exactly related, but they both stir up similar emotional reactions.


Symbols of American and Texan Heritage- We call upon governmental entities to protect all symbols of our American and Texan heritage. We oppose governmental action to remove the public display of the Ten Commandments or other religious symbols. We support the Pledge Protection Act. We urge that the national motto "In God We Trust" and National Anthem be protected from legislative and judicial attack. Penalties should be established for any form of desecration of the American or Texas Flag...

Well, I've already criticized their injection of religion into politics earlier in this series, and this plank contains yet more examples. There's also another example of their wanting to do away with checks and balances, by proposing the Pledge Protection Act that would deprive all courts jurisdiction over constitutional challenges to the pledge - a law that would itself be unconstitutional and liable to be overturned by the Supreme Court.

Worse than those is their disregard for the First Amendment, wanting to take away people's freedom of expression by making it illegal to desecrate flags. Granted, it upsets me personally to see people desecrate the U.S. Flag, but like I've said many times before, only totalitarian regimes try to outlaw symbolic gestures against inanimate objects.

The most hypocritical part of that plank is talking about wanting to protect American symbols 'from legislative and judicial attack', when that's exactly the reason why many of those symbols have the form they do now, and Republicans would consider it an 'attack' to restore them to their original forms. For example, E pluribus unum had always been considered the de facto motto of the U.S., up until the Red Scare and McCarthyism when 'In God We Trust' was adopted (personally, I much prefer E pluribus unum and the unity it expresses). And even though the Pledge wasn't part of that particular sentence in the plank, it offers another good example of a secular symbol that was corrupted by religion, again during the Red Scare and McCarthyism. And ironically, when 'under God' was added, it broke up the original phrase of 'one Nation indivisible'. So in both examples, you have religious sentiments messing up the original messages of unity. (And as an aside, I'll just note that the Pledge was originally written by a socialist, Francis Bellamy.)


American Identity-We favor strengthening our common American identity, which includes the contribution and assimilation of diverse racial and ethnic groups. Students shall pledge allegiance to the United States and Texas flags daily to instill patriotism. Students have the right to display patriotic items on school property.

I've said this for previous years, and I'll say it again. I never realized how creepy pledges were until I walked in on my daughter's class reciting the Texas pledge (I didn't grow up here). Hearing a pledge in a context where you're not desensitized reveals it for the propaganda method it is. It's not that I dislike my country, but forced loyalty oaths are for totalitarian governments, not the land of the free.

It's also odd to see a specific statement defending students' 'right to display patriotic items on school property'. Is there some movement afoot to ban miniature American flags on school grounds?


Resolved, that holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Columbus Day, St. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Good Friday, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and the 4th of July as a historical holiday should remain on our governmental and public school calendars.

You may think that I'm going to rail on the religious holidays mentioned above, but I actually don't mind them so much as they become more and more secularized. I mean, I have secular Jewish friends who celebrate Christmas, and most of the symbolism that goes along with these holidays is pagan, anyway. Hell, they didn't even change the name for Easter. And how many people really care about the religious aspects of Valentine's Day, St. Patty's Day, or (unmentioned) Halloween? So what the hell, let's just go all the way and make them secular national holidays.

No, my big problem here is Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus was an absolutely horrible excuse for a human being. It's not just that he was a crackpot who lucked his way into discovering a continent (practically all educated people of the time already knew the spherical nature of the Earth and the approximate diameter - Columbus underestimated the diameter by nearly a factor of 2), but the horrible way he treated the American Indians and European settlers in his newfound colony. His actions were so cruel that other Spaniards arrested him and took him back to Europe in shackles (he received a pardon from the crown - seems the 'Good Old Boy' network was just as strong in the 1500s). I see absolutely no reason to have a holiday honoring this wretched person. (related entry - Happy Exploration Day 2015)

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So, this was a rather short entry in this series, but I still think it's important to call out some of the authoritarian streaks in the platform, what with mandatory loyalty oaths for school age children and outlawing symbolic acts against inanimate objects, and how those planks run counter to our nation's ideal of Freedom of Speech guaranteed in the First Amendment.

Continue to Part 5, Environment / Climate Change

 

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