The president of the Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Board of Trustees unilaterally decided to get rid of the Pledge of Allegiance for two reasons: it states “one nation under God” and the Pledge “has a history steeped in expressions of nativism and white nationalism.”
As Adam Sabes reports at Campus Reform, the Board’s president, Robert Miller, emailed his sentiments to Celeste Barber, a former adjunct instructor at SBCC. He wrote, ““I also object to the phrase ‘one nation under God.’ The First Amendment not only protects freedom of speech and religion [but] it also expressly prohibits laws that establish a religion. The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly extended those rights to those who express no belief in God. Thus, I disagree with the 1955 act of Congress to add this phrase to the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Moreover, I have discovered that the Pledge of Allegiance has a history steeped in expressions of nativism and white nationalism. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1890 by Francis Bellamy, a former Baptist minister. Among other reasons, he wrote it in reaction to the increasing number of immigrants entering the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In support of the Pledge, Mr. Bellamy expressed concern about the “races that we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard.” As one commentator noted. “While the language contained in the Pledge is not overtly nativist or xenophobic, the spirit that animated its creation was steeped in this sort of bigotry.
Sabes reports, “Live stream videos of the board’s past several meetings show that the last time members recited the Pledge of Allegiance during a board meeting was Dec. 13.” Barber told Campus Reform that she noticed at a board meeting in spring 2018 that members eschewed reciting the Pledge, prompting her to alert the president of the board at the time; the Pledge was restored.
Last week, speaking at a meeting of the board while protesters were yelling, Barber, who noted that she had lived in East Berlin and thus loved the flag, as “that bit of cloth represented home in a faraway place,” stated, “You are an elected body at a public institution at a public institution serving a community college. When you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, you are recommitting your oath to uphold and defend this country’s constitution.” She concluded by reciting the Pledge.
Barber also mentioned to Campus Reform that when she grew up, her friends’ fathers were World War II and Korean War veterans. She added, “We were in awe of them. They defended our country on two fronts from two formidable threats, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and six years later, North Korea. Those men saved the world from a tyranny too horrifying to imagine. They stopped fascism and halted communism. Some of those fathers never returned home.” She said that the veterans died to defend concepts like “indivisible,” “liberty,” “justice,” and “God,” concluding, “If my father’s generation of young men were willing to stake their lives on this republic, how could I not recite one single sentence professing allegiance to our country?”