The Supreme Court this week gave a split ruling on the display of the Ten Commandments in court houses. It’s hard to argue against historical displays dating over 150 years old, such as that in the Supreme Court. But I wouldn’t call a monument erected in the 1950s historical (the Texas state courthouse Ten Commandments was erected in the ’50s). I’m suspicious that by the 1950’s the joining of God and Country was less an act of faith, an appreciation for historical legacy or even a naive gesture, and more an effort by (white) America to:
- claim divine support in the Cold War against Godless communism; and
- claim a divine blessing for a country whose social order oppressed women, minorities and left wing political radicals.
"God is on our side," seems to have been the mantra as our country was building segregated, cookie-cutter suburbs that fostered a cultural homogeneity which threatened individuality, personal liberty and independent thinking. Oppose the government’s foreign policy? You’re a Godless commie. Support civil rights? You’re a Godless commie. Think women can and should work outside the home? You get the idea. And so while McCarthyism was running amock, God & Country had become running mates in the campaign for an oppressive cultural homogeneity. That’s why a "civic" Ten Commandments display monument from the 1950’s is not an innocuous display – it’s the product of a social force that was un-American and anti-democratic.