A group known for its radical demands that English be used properly in all areas of communication has joined the fray over NBC’s controversial decision to edit the Pledge of Allegiance in Sunday’s broadcast of golf’s U.S. Open.
During a patriotic montage preceding the telecast, a recitation of the Pledge by a group of children left out the words “under God”. Conservative critics took to the blogosphere to accuse the network of undermining America’s status as God’s most-favored nation.
But members of the United Nitpickers Demanding English be Right (UNDER) maintain that this criticism is missing the point.
“Most religious traditions, including the Judeo-Christian one, say that God is everywhere, not simply floating in the sky above,” said Marie Janeworth, executive director of UNDER, in a communique issued from her compound hidden somewhere in California’s Sierra mountains. “It’s time to reconsider whether ‘under’ is really the proper preposition to describe His position compared to ours.”
Janeworth’s group has previously gone on record with suggestions for alternative wording of this fragment of the Pledge. They’ve recommended several options: “one nation near God,” “one nation around God,” “one nation regarding God,” “one nation during God,” “one nation by God” and “one nation close to but not crowding God.”
“We have no problem acknowledging there’s probably some kind of god and that he thinks pretty highly of the United States. We’re not atheists or agonistics,” Janeworth said. “We just want to see the King’s English used properly.”
Meanwhile, NBC expanded on its apology Monday. Chris McCloskey, vice president for NBCUniversal Sports, said “As soon as management became aware of this decision and the controversy it justifiably created, it immediately offered an on-air apology.”
“It was not the intent of NBC to upset anyone,” McCloskey added. “We’ve made an apology and accept responsibility, even though we suspect it was actually the fault of those kids in the video.”
One of the children involved, seven-year-old Ethan Harris, of Arlington, Va., denied that any omission was intentional.
“I know that Sarah H. standing next to me had the hiccups that day, and she may have ‘hicked’ right past the ‘under God’ part,” Ethan told reporters.
“Nu-uh,” countered Sarah H.
In another twist to the still-developing story, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said his message has become “dramatically more relevant” following NBC’s controversial edit. Promoting his book “A Nation Like No Other” on a conservative radio talk show, Gingrich said he will make the gaffe a centerpiece of his upcoming campaign for the 2012 nomination.
“I know people say jobs, the economy, three wars, massive deficits and our out-of-control debt to China are important,” Gingrich said. “But this denial of God during a minor feature on a golf telecast is far more critical.”
UNDER’s Janeworth observed of Gingrich, “you know, his book title should be ‘A Nation As No Other.'”