Is it any wonder many Americans do not know and are not learning of America’s history and civics, when the President of the United States, in a public address, demonstrates that he does not himself know what the official motto of the United States is?
It’s actually quite simple. The motto of the United States is, “In God We Trust.” It’s printed on our currency and appears on many of our coins. Even if this fact had slipped the President’s mind as he was speaking last November to a crowd at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, all he would have had to have done to refresh his memory would have been to pull out a dollar bill. Of course, with the huge White House staff — including a multi-person research and speech-writing team — at his beck and call, one would expect that his staff would have noted the correct motto for his speech in the first place.
What is interesting, however, is that the President might have deliberately mis-cited the motto in order to make a political point. You see, Mr. Obama said in his speech that the motto of the United States was “E Pluribus Unum” – correctly translated by him as “From Many, One.” The President then made the point that our country’s motto is similar to Indonesia’s (which translates as, “Unity in Diversity”). Because he was speaking to a predominately Muslim audience in a predominately Muslim country, he perhaps did not want to offend by appearing to bring religion into his speech by quoting the actual, official U.S. motto rather than the previous one, which until changed by official act of Congress in 1956, was “E Pluribus Unum.”
However, the President commits a grave disservice to our country, and especially to our youth, by either deliberately mis-citing our motto, or by not knowing what our official motto is.
Several Members of Congress have written to the President complaining of his apparent ignorance on this matter, and offered to meet with him to explain the motto. They have received no reply from the White House.
The Jakarta speech was not the first example of the President deliberately or ignorantly mis-citing historic documents.
On October 18th, President Obama errantly quoted the Declaration of Independence at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. His version of the document apparently read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Noticeably missing from his quote was the reference to the “Creator,” which term appears clearly and prominently in the Declaration.
This President, or any other of our nation’s chief executives, is entitled to make whatever points he wishes in any speech he desires; he can pander to any audience he’s of a mind to. But the President of the United States should not be permitted to deliberately mis-quote our founding documents, our official motto, or other official documents.
Of course, to be fair, if Obama truly did make these oratorical missteps in error, then the remedy is simple – fire his speechwriters and hire new ones; men and women who will set a better example for our citizens by respecting and honoring our history and heritage.
- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code