Celeste Barber fought back when Santa Barbara Community College (SBCC) banned the Pledge of Allegiance from its public meetings by reciting it at a meeting last week where she was mocked to the point of tears.
SBCC Board of Trustees President Robert Miller recently removed the pledge from public meeting agendas and when Barber wrote an email objecting, Miller responded with a scathing rebuke of the American tradition of honoring flag and country because it “has a history steeped in expressions of nativism and white nationalism” and referred to another who described it as expressing “bigotry.”
In an email to Barber, provided to Breitbart News, Miller allegedly wrote, in part:
I decided to discontinue use of the Pledge of Allegiance for reasons related to its history and symbolism. Our flag is a powerful symbol of freedom and our system of government, but I prefer to pledge allegiance to our constitution, instead of a physical object. Indeed, when sworn in, each Trustee takes an oath to support and defend the U.S. and California constitutions.
I also object to the phrase “one nation under God.” The First Amendment not only protects freedom of speech and religion, it also expressly prohibits laws that establish a religion. The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly extended those rights to those who express no belief in God. Thus, I disagree with the 1955 act of Congress to add this phrase to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Moreover, I have discovered that the Pledge of Allegiance has a history steeped in expressions of nativism and white nationalism. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1890 by Francis Bellamy, a former Baptist minister.
Among other reasons, he wrote it in reaction to the increasing numbers of immigrants entering the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In support of the Pledge, Mr. Bellamy expressed concern about the “races which we cannot assimilate without a lowering of our racial standard.”
As one commentator noted, “[w]hile the language contained in the pledge is not overtly nativist or xenophobic, the spirit that animated its creation was steeped in this sort of bigotry.
After receiving the email response, Barber attended a board meeting last week, which was posted to the SBCC’s Board of Trustees’ YouTube page.
Watch Barber’s full speech:
“I’m here to speak about the board president’s decision to discontinue the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at Trustees public meetings,” said Barber, who is a former English professor at the school. “When you recite the Pledge of Allegiance you are recommitting your oath to uphold and defend our country’s Constitution.”
She also shared stories of living “behind the Soviet bloc” and of her father’s military service.
Barber was repeatedly interrupted as people in the audience and protesters yelled out “racist” and “the founding fathers had slaves.”
Undeterred, Barber recited the pledge with a small flag she brought as the crowd mocked her to the point of tears.
After Barber completed the pledge, the video shows student protesters — at the meeting for an unrelated cause — were standing behind the board members, kneeling while Barber spoke.
Another woman, Denice Spangler Adams, (sic — video misspelled her first name) also spoke out because of concern “about respect for the flag and the country.”
Adams said she is the great-granddaughter of George East, the man who carried the American flag at the Battles of Gettysburg and Antietam.
Breitbart News reached out to Miller but had not heard back by the time of publication.
Watch the full Santa Barbara Community College Board of Trustees meeting:
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