Sunday, July 5, 2009

With Liberty And Justice For All...

I first saw Dorthea Lange's Pledge of Allegiance, Raphael Weill Elementary School, San Francisco in 2002 at the Getty - and I was almost immediately blown away by the simultaneous power and tender emotion in this picture.
This picture - of a school yard full of little girls reciting the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States in 1942 - becomes more profound when you learn that within a few short months of the taking of this picture the United States government placed thousands of Japanese Americans in 'detainment camps'. Even these little girls.
The United States has come a long way in the roughly 70 years since the days and attitudes surrounding World War II; but if you examine - and closely compare - contemporary events with current events, I think you'll find mind numbing similarities. Consider particularly that if the economic uncertainty hasn't reached the devasting proportions experienced during the Depression, then the world seems determined to ignore the lessons learned from the Armenian genocide, the attempted extermination of the Jewish people, of Gypsies, and of anyone who questioned Stalin. In fact the appalling number of genocides occuring on a daily basis has sadly eclipsed the evils suffered by millions in the beginning part of the last century - at least in terms of diversity.
Friends, we can't afford to ignore history - excuse me for waxing pedantic, but I think we all know what happens as a result of that - but let us learn from it.
Let us, too, consider the Pledge of Allegiance, let us be "indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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