Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day11

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Loyalty Oaths are Undemocratic

Time to Dump the Pledge

by MIKE WHITNEY

"The flag is a symbol of the fact that man is still a herd animal."

Albert Einstein

Michael Newdow deserves credit for persevering in his crusade to have the "under God" clause removed from the Pledge of Allegiance. But there’s a larger question to answer before he continues.

Why bother?

America is securely ensconced in religion’s withering grip and Newdow’s case does nothing to loosen it.

It’s difficult to imagine that someone as bright as Newdow hasn’t noticed the "fundamentalist" tsunami sweeping the country under the stewardship of our current President, St George of Crawford. Even the apocryphal war on terror is couched in religious rhetoric, a surefire prescription for unlimited carnage.

It’s foolish to suppose that logic or science will ever crease the stony wall of conviction enclosing America’s zealots. Newdow’s efforts are doomed to failure.

Yes, the "under God" clause constitutes a form of prayer.

Yes, it is a coerced endorsement of religion.

Yes, it is a way of the majority forcing their dubious beliefs on the minority.

Yes, it is an insult to anyone who either doesn’t believe in God or who really hasn’t made up their mind.

And, yes, Newdow’s daughter is being asked to participate in a ritual that says "her father is wrong" (his atheistic beliefs) every day.

But what is Newdow expecting?

Is he expecting a wave of reason and common sense to flood the nation?

Or is he just "tilting at windmills" for his 15 minutes of fame?

Atheists and agnostics have an unusual place in American society. The discrimination is not flagrant, but it is quite real all the same. In the 1960s, the polls indicated that less than 30% of the public would vote for Jews, Blacks or atheists. In 2000 nearly 80% of the people polled said they would support either a black or Jewish candidate. Regrettably, the percentages for atheists dithered in the 25% range, indicating the widespread distrust in those who challenge the notion of a Supreme Being.

These numbers demonstrate that belief in God is still considered a fundamental requirement of good citizenship.

It is understandable, then, given the rise in fundamentalism, and the unalloyed fervor that issues from the White House, that the nation’s founders would be recast as latter day saints rather then pillars of The Enlightenment. In fact, none of the founders (Jefferson, Adams, Paine, Franklin etc.) accepted the divinity of Christ. (Jefferson’s Bible scrupulously removed all of the "alleged" miracles Christ performed, thinking that they were more illustrative of a charlatan than a saint.) This seems to escape the attention of today’s religious enthusiasts. The founders have been refashioned in the image of John Brown, Bible-wielding soothsayer, rather than John Locke, architect of modern democracy.

This curious bit of revisionism has led many to believe that the Constitution is the progeny of the Ten Commandments rather than the French Revolution. The strong emphasis on liberty, equality and secular government has suddenly morphed into a belief that the state should be the agent for carrying out God’s Law. This is due in large part to the Bush steering committee aligning itself with fanatics like Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson, and appointing men like John "the Baptist" Ashcroft and General William Boykin to high office.

Spearheaded by a President who is certain of his Messianic role in history, America is tipping towards "bin Ladenism;" a fanatical attachment to superstition as the organizing principle of society. President Bush would be more comfortable exhorting the masses in a revival tent than from the halls of Congress. His Manichean world view and his penchant for religious jargon have spawned a crusading mentality that is incompatible with secular government. Never the less, he has emboldened those who would like to see an even greater merging of church and state. Keeping the "under God" clause in the Pledge only strengthens their resolve.

87% of Americans believe that we should keep the "under God" clause in the Pledge.

Similarly, 87% (according to recent polls) of Americans profess to believe in a supreme being. This is hardly a coincidence. It points out the grim fact that people "of faith" invariably attempt to include others within their net of belief.

No, thank you.

Religious people are the same in one regard. Their deepest, most heartfelt convictions are grounded in pure ether. Their world view is not shaped by concrete realities, but through attachment to unproved assumptions and conjecture. This is why the "under God" clause is of such great importance to them. It is a way of coercing those with other perspectives to endorse their dubious point of view.

Consensus is the baling wire that keeps the rogue elements in line with the faithful.

The "under God" debate is reducible to one brief question, "Who knows?" (Whether God exists)

We should honor that mystery and stop linking expressions of patriotism with belief in God.

The real failing of Newdow’s case is not its extremism, but its timidity. The Pledge of Allegiance is an abomination from the get-go. Democracies should not require "loyalty oaths" and that’s precisely what the pledge is. Our children should not be encouraged to profess their loyalty to the state; that’s the behavior we expect in tyrannies. Let the representatives of the state (politicians and public servants) profess their commitment to "We the People."

The whole idea of the pledge is to strengthen conformity, not individuality. It is basically at odds with our founding principles and any sensible approach to personal liberty.

It is a vacuous and demeaning exercise in nationalism, beneath the dignity of any democratically minded person.

The Pledge of Allegiance should be swiftly consigned to the burn pile along with any other public displays of loyalty to the Fatherland.

MIKE WHITNEY may be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com