WashPost Columnist: "Creepy Totalitarian Feel" of Pledge of Allegiance

September 15th, 2005 10:43 PM

PostWatch demonstrates that it's worth scrolling through the WashingtonPost.com live chats from time to time. Days after that persistent blog found liberal columnist (and former Post reporter) Marc Fisher expressing bewilderment that anyone would stay through a hurricane for a pet when you can just go buy a new one, Fisher goes on another tear over the Pledge of Allegiance:

So I don't mind kids being taught the national anthem or patriotic songs. The pledge, however, has a creepy totalitarian feel to it, with or without the obviously unconstitutional, McCarthy-era addition of the God bit.

Pardon me if I have trouble with Fisher being so offended by the whiff of dictatorship in having school children pledge allegiance to liberty and justice for all. Because here's how we wrote up reporter Marc Fisher in the July 1994 edition of MediaWatch when it came time for Fisher to report on authentically creepy totalitarians. He seemed to like them: 

Stephen Wechsler is a U.S. Army deserter and unrepentant communist who returned from East Germany after 42 years to attend his Harvard reunion. To reporter Marc Fisher in a June 20 Washington Post "Style" profile, he's "a soft kid who dreamed of justice."

Fisher quoted Wechsler's recent "dream of a world without hunger...racist violence...where every nationality and every human being is equally regarded and equally secured from life's worst hazards," but didn't mention the East German hazard of getting shot while trying to escape. Instead, Fisher portrayed Wechsler as the victim: "Wechsler's decision to lie about his communist activities on his Army enlistment papers grew out of the intolerance of the McCarthy years....He decided to flee rather than fight against the ideological barriers and blacklists." Failing to quote anyone critical of his support for a murderous regime, Fischer found space to note that Wechsler informed a New York store clerk that "he had gone 30 years without seeing beggars, that he had never seen muggers or a joint."