Mazzuca: Let’s talk about controversy |

Mazzuca: Let’s talk about controversy

The Pledge of Allegiance: A lot of people were distressed when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional. But I wonder if those folks would be as upset if they knew something of the Pledge’s history.

The Pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, a committed socialist who believed in the doctrine of strict obedience to the state (“… allegiance to the flag?”). Bellamy penned those words as an advertising slogan for “The Youth’s Companion,” a leading family periodical of its day, to promote the sale of American flags to public schools.

While I personally would like the phrase “under God” to remain a part of the Pledge of Allegiance regardless of its origins, I still can’t get too worked up about a recitation predicated on an advertising campaign.

Gays in the military: In its most empirical form, the mission of the military is to destroy things and kill people ” or to present the threat thereof in pursuit of our national interests. Therefore, codes of conduct and personnel policies facilitating that mission should be encouraged, while those that don’t should be discouraged.

When I served in the Marine Corps during the ’60s and ’70s, I believe an openly serving gay would have been disruptive to unit cohesion and fighting effectiveness. However, times have changed and the stigma of being gay has diminished.

Perhaps the Pentagon should conduct a thorough study to ascertain once and for all whether or not openly serving gays are detrimental to fighting efficiency. If they are, then continue the current policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” However, if they are not, we should allow these patriots to serve their country openly.

Religious fundamentalism: Question: What do the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran, the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing, the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking, the 1985 TWA hijacking in Athens, the 1998 Pan Am bombing, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the 2000 U.S.S. Cole bombing, and the 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center have in common? Answer: Each of those attacks was carried out by Muslims.

According to historical records, Muhammed, the progenitor of Islam, led his followers into between nine and 29 major battles (depending upon which version of the Koran one accepts) resulting in death, destruction, forced conversion and the taking of slaves. So is it any wonder that when looking at the trouble spots around the world we see Muslim-Hindu violence in Kashmir; Muslim-Christian violence in the Philippines; Muslim-Buddhist violence in Thailand; Muslim-Animist violence in Sudan; Muslim-Igbo violence in Nigeria; Muslim-Russian violence in Chechnya; all sorts of intramural Muslim violence between traditionalists and Islamists, and of course, the blood feud between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq?

Contrast Muhammed’s life with that of Jesus who lived by the proverbs, “Turn the other cheek,” “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” Irrespective of one’s belief system about whether or not Muhammed spoke with Allah or was visited by the angel Gabriel, or whether or not Christ is the Son of God; from a purely historical perspective, which of these two men should be classified as the normative example for a religion of peace?

Health care: We are told there’s a need to cover 47 million “uninsured Americans.” Since about 12 million of these people are illegal immigrants, 14 million are eligible for Medicaid but haven’t applied for it, and 9 million earn in excess of $75,000 per year and have chosen not to buy insurance for any number of valid reasons, might not it be a better idea to tweak the inequities and inefficiencies in our delivery methods rather than “overhauling” an entire system that already provides the most advanced medical care on Earth?

Flag burning: The Supreme Court has ruled that flag burning is protected under the First Amendment i.e., “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” The founders understood that the right to express one’s self was essential in a constitutional republic and they wanted to protect those who expressed themselves in a manner disagreeable to the majority. After all, if everyone agreed on every issue, the First Amendment wouldn’t be necessary.

So while it galls me to say it, I believe a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning would be counter to the Founders’ notion of freedom of speech. That said, if I were to come across someone burning the flag a million Americans have given their lives for; my instinctual response would be to take a 7-iron to their backside.

Quote of the day: “A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness.”

Butch Mazzuca is a business consultant and writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

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