Recent pledge controversy

Most Americans know that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. Few know the dark history of the Pledge of Allegiance.

It was written by the strange Frank Bellamy in the late 19th century to deal with immigration anxieties, then-labor unions and, in the 1950s, modified due to fear of communism fostered by the infamous Sen. Joseph McCarthy with the introduction of "under God" -- creating a conflict of church and state.

Unknown to many, the pledge is forbidden/discouraged by many religions, including several Christian sects. One may only pledge to the creator.

Children's indoctrination was to start very early. Children were beaten, teachers thrown out, and men even castrated in Washington state for refusing to recite the pledge.

In Barnette v. West Virginia, the Supreme Court eviscerated the notion that the pledge had anything to do with patriotism and forbade any form of harassment.

Alone among Western democracies, we, who pride ourselves on individualism, insist that legislators, and even small kids, give a daily immigration oath to the state. That is the supreme paradox of the pledge.

Torsten Jacobsen

Walnut Creek

An unlikely scenario?


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Does anyone actually know, or know of, anyone or any time when an upstanding armed citizen in their own home got their gun and either used it or threatened to use it, thereby preventing an attack upon themselves and their family?

Norma Harrison

Berkeley

Deal on hospital building is wrong

The people of the Tri-City area have been paying taxes since 1955 to pay for the construction bonds to build Washington Hospital, including the building for joint replacement.

The building should be opened to all qualified physicians and not limited to two physicians. Apparently the restrictions were decided by the CEO and board of Washington Hospital plus the two physicians.

Two-tier level of care for joint replacement is morally and ethically wrong. I hope the board of Washington Hospital will correct this error at the next board meeting.

Charles N. Wilkins, MD

Fremont

Food insecurity a major problem

Food insecurity's loosely defined as not knowing where your next meal's coming from -- seeing an empty cupboard or refrigerator.

In the United States, 50 million Americans, among them 16.7 million children under age 18, are food insecure. We have more poverty, at 20 percent, than any other major industrialized European nation. Hunger costs the United States $167 billion yearly in preventive health care and nutritional deficiencies. In Contra Costa County, 16 percent of adults have food-insecure households and 37,000 households use food stamps.

President Barack Obama proposed to fund $10 billion for 10 years to the 2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act. Martinez Rep. George Miller proposed a reduction to $8 billion and then-Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln got it reduced to $4.5 billion, with $2.5 billion coming out of the existing food stamp program.

When the 2010 bill was passed, Senate committee members congratulated themselves. Those suffering from food insecurity would have been better off had the committee not met.

The documentary, "A Place at the Table," discusses food insecurity in America and how the current political process has created a void in available nutritional foods from government subsidized corporate farms. You may know someone who should have a place at the table.

Jim Neu

Martinez

Antibiotics and food animals

Some 80 percent of all antibiotics are given to animals -- food animals!

It is not to keep them well but to allow factory farms to force them to live in filth, crowded inhumanely until butchered. This overuse of antibiotics causes the germs and superbugs to get more antibiotic resistant and is resulting in infections in humans, after surgery, that cannot be cured, even with the strongest antibiotics.

If it were made illegal, cattle and chickens would have to be raised in more humane and sanitary conditions. So why is it not done? For profits and cheaper food at the expense of human disease and death.

Joel Olney

Livermore

Wear caps flat on the head

Graduation ceremonies at all educational levels will soon be taking place. I would like to suggest to those who will be assisting graduates with their caps and gowns to see to it that the caps, properly called "mortarboards," be worn flat on the head. This is easily done if the shorter part of the cap below the board is worn to the front with the point at the center of the forehead, leaving the deeper part to go to the back of the head to hold the whole in place.

The symbolism is that by "carrying mortar" on the head, the student is "cementing" the education in place for the ceremony to follow. To slant or angle it in any fashion would let the education slide off because it is not revered enough to save it.

Education is to be prized and graduating students ought to wear the sign of it with dignity.

Marie Brey

Antioch