In what was billed as a patriotic expression to celebrate the final day of the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club near our nation’s Capital, NBC opened their coverage with a montage of military personnel, American flags, great golfing moments and children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The problem is that, for some inexplicable reason, NBC – or at the very least an NBC Sports producer – omitted the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. Twice!
This cannot be chalked up to an editorial decision made for timing purposes. It was clearly intentional. The montage included the (partial) recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance twice.
The first time, NBC omitted the phrased “under God, indivisible,” and the second time, they cut the phrase, “one nation under God, indivisible.” There is no excuse for this kind of selective patriotism. What makes it even worse is that after the Pledge of Allegiance, the NBC Sports announcer said that those words “are the virtues that have been passed down through generations.”
The entire Pledge of Allegiance has been proudly passed down from generation to generation. But recently, it has been under attack. A few months ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid omitted the words “under God” from the Pledge on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The Pledge has repeatedly come under attack in the courts, each time being upheld as a constitutional expression of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals summed it up best:
The Pledge of Allegiance serves to unite our vast nation through the proud recitation of some of the ideals upon which our Republic was founded and for which we continue to strive: one Nation under God--the Founding Fathers' belief that the people of this nation are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; indivisible--although we have individual states, they are united in one Republic; with liberty--the government cannot take away the people's inalienable rights; and justice for all--everyone in America is entitled to "equal justice under the law" (as is inscribed above the main entrance to our Supreme Court).
Yet, NBC believes that they can cut, edit and sanitize patriotic expression. What they did not expect was the immediate outpouring of disgust and outrage by Americans on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
Within three hours, an NBC Sports announcer read a sort-of apology on air: “Regrettably, a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in that feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone and we'd like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.”
I was at the U.S. Open on Sunday and, like everyone else who attended, had to leave my most trusted device at the phone-check. When I got my iPhone back and started going through my messages, I noticed a text that a fellow ACLJ attorney sent me about the incident. Instead of being angry for a day and moving on, the ACLJ decided to respond.
To those who did not realize the Pledge of Allegiance was under attack before, this is a wakeup call. The Pledge stands as a tribute to our heritage, our ideals and the sacrifice of those who have fought to protect our freedoms. We must not allow the desecration of our heritage. The ACLJ will continue to fight to protect our symbols of patriotism from lawsuits, from attacks by politicians and from direct assaults by the media. The words of our Pledge are sacrosanct – all of them.