I speak here in support of the traditional motto, E Pluribus Unum, rather than the newer, One Nation Under God. My stand is based on three premises:
1) The One Nation Under God junior motto is divisive and does not include all Americans and their many beliefs, whereas the more traditional motto, E Pluribus Unum, which means “one from many” is inclusive and excludes no American for the matter of his or her personal beliefs. It was proposed for the first Great Seal of the United States by Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson in 1776. That Commissioner Mielke’s motto divides us is self evidently displayed in this meeting room.
2) During these times of systematic government surveillance that seems to trouble many of us, the junior motto celebrates another time when government was also peering over our shoulders. The McCarthy Era in the 1950s when this motto was pushed upon us was a fearful time for many Americans. Black lists were compiled, people lost their jobs, loyalty oaths were required, lives ruined and freedom to speak one’s mind was severely challenged by the intolerant disciples of Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Unamerican Activities Committee. Do we truly want to honor a time with a plaque in need of revision from a time when American freedoms were so severely under attack?
3) Commissioner Mielke was encouraged by distant California strangers to suggest his motto for Vancouver, and it’s reported he remarked he thought the motto was a good idea because he imagined that people were falling away from his idea of God, and they needed to be reminded of their shortcomings with a wall plaque. I don’t know how Mr. Mielke knows who is and who is not falling away from his idea of God, but, more importantly, if people are falling away from Commissioner Mielke’s idea of God or, if he, himself, is falling away from God, that is a matter of personal conscience. The problem needs to be discussed with religious leaders in their houses of worship and in their homes. It’s a matter between them and their churches and ought not to become a matter of public policy, addressed by a sign on a public wall.