Let’s say you’re a public-spirited public official, say, a school principal. You believe in diversity and inclusion. You want every student to feel valued and wanted and comfortable, free from exposure to anything with which they might possibly disagree. And it’s national Foreign Language Week! You know how Americans venerate that week, or at least the 12 or 13 that have actually heard of it, which puts it, in terms of public knowledge and observance, right up there with national Toenail Trimming Week. State law mandates the reading and observance of the Pledge of Allegiance, which reads:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
and to the republic for which it stands,
one nation, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
So what better way to demonstrate your fealty to social justice principles than to recite the pledge in a language other than English? I mean, isn’t that the first thing that comes to your mind, gentle readers, when you recite the pledge? “Golly! Wouldn’t this be so much better if it was recited in a foreign language?” OK, sure, the pledge talks about America’s most obvious symbol–the flag–and it speaks to our constitutional republic, our unity as a people, and our commitment to liberty and justice for all, but you, the public-minded principal, have to make a decision. There are about 6500 languages at the moment. Oh dear. Which one will you use to recite the pledge? Which of those 6500 languages and peoples best embodies the very words of the pledge and the principles it cites?
Students at Pine Bush High School in Pine Bush, New York, knew right away there was something not quite right about the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s because the pledge was being recited in Arabic.
‘One nation under Allah,’ the student body president announced over the intercom system on Wednesday.
Reaction in the upstate New York high school was swift, and so was the backlash, The Times Herald-Record reports. Furious students tried to shout down the recitation in their classrooms. Other students sat down in protest.
School Superintendent Joan Carbone told the newspaper that the Arabic pledge ‘divided the school in half’ – noting that many complaints came from Jewish parents and those who had lost family members fighting the war on terror.
I guess some folks are just touchy. I can’t imagine why those folks would be upset about this.
The outrage among students was so significant that the school issued an apology.
‘We sincerely apologize for having the Pledge of Allegiance recited this morning in the high school in a language other than English,’ the apology read. ‘In our school district the Pledge of Allegiance will only be recited in English as recommended by the Commissioner of Education.
How nice. It’s always good when people take the initiative to sincerely apologize after they’ve been caught doing something incredibly stupid which sparks a nationwide blowback.
The school said the pledge was recited in Arabic as a way to honor National Foreign Language Week ‘and in an effort to celebrate the many races, cultures and religions that make up this great country.’ It said the pledge had been recited in other languages throughout the week.
That explanation didn’t set well with student Alex Krug.
‘I think it should be said in English,’ he told television station TWCNews.com. ‘It is foreign language week but we don’t even offer Arabic in Pine Bush High School.’
Andrew Zink, the student body president, defended what he did and said he would do it all over again – telling TWC News he ‘knew exactly what would happen’ because ‘it’s the right thing to do.’
Zink wrote on his Twitter account: ‘To everyone who disagrees with my decisions, I respect your right to do so and hope we can have a productive conversation.
Well, Andrew, I’ll be happy to engage you in conversation shortly, but for the moment, let’s see what the conversation in Pine Bush has been:
Oh, there’s been no shortage of conversation around the small town.
‘Thanks to the illegal invasion and the concept of ‘celebrate diversity,’ English is becoming a foreign language in America,’ one critic wrote on the local newspaper’s website.
A writer who claimed to be an American of Arab Christian ancestry said he, too, was offended by what happened.
‘The Pledge of Allegiance isn’t a ‘salute’ to America,’ he wrote. ‘It’s a promise to be loyal to it. Part of that loyalty should be to learn English and integrating into our culture.
A local news source added this:
Early Wednesday afternoon, high school Principal Aaron Hopmayer made a building-wide announcement explaining the reading’s context and apologizing to students who took offense.
The apology appears to have done little to quell the situation; it may, in fact, have fueled resentment from students who feel the reading was appropriate.
Carbone said she had received complaints from district residents who had lost family members in Afghanistan and from Jewish parents who were equally outraged by the reading.
Pine Bush is no stranger to controversy. In 2013, Jewish parents sued the district and administrators in federal court, accusing them of being indifferent to chronic anti-Semitic behavior.
Carbone said she has learned that state Education Department regulations specifically say the Pledge of Allegiance should be read in English.
Students on both sides of the issue took to Twitter to voice their feelings. Said one, ‘People who don’t like PB should take a vacation. I hear the Middle East is nice this time a year?’
Another student tweeted, ‘The pledge should always be said in English. They could’ve just said ‘Good Morning’ in a different language each day.’
A student who supported the reading, senior Miranda Monroe, said she felt it was ‘wrong to discriminate – the whole thing is wrong.
And now, gentle readers, let’s have the productive conversation young Mr. Zink so desires. As a teacher of high school students, I know very well that youngsters of that age have all manner of convictions, all too many informed by little, backed by no experience in the real world, and held with the righteous fervor of those unburdened by the need to be well-informed. Usually, their intentions are good, but often evidence no idea of contemporary reality.
With a choice of 6500 languages, why not a language actually taught at the school, or at the very least, a language from a nation/culture that fundamentally shares the values of western civilization? Perhaps even an ally of the United States, a nation whose people aren’t trying to kill Americans? German? French? Italian? Perhaps even Spanish?
Instead, they choose Arabic, the language of Islam, and as a result, the language of the most deadly enemies of civilization since the Nazis and the Soviet Union. Language embodies culture. It can either bind a people together, or separate them. This is the divide to which one person of Arabic descent spoke: the determination of many immigrants, and many Americans, not to require assimilation of immigrants in a misguided attempt at diversity and niceness. If people come to America to establish little enclaves of the hellholes they escaped, what becomes of America? Why come to America if one does not want to be American? Why not remain where everyone speaks a common language and enjoys the benefits of a common culture?
We do not require a common religion in America, but we have what is, in a sense, a civic religion: loyalty to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. No one dies for a flag, which is only a piece of colored cloth. Our soldiers, sailors and Marines have died for the principles symbolized by that flag, and the Pledge of Allegiance is a common expression of that loyalty. Symbols and words have power. When we speak the pledge, we invoke that power, and we feel a part of something more than ourselves. We make a promise to ourselves, and if we have a functioning conscience, that promise weighs heavily on us when broken.
I’ll never forget my time in the US Air Force. At the end of the day, everyone on base, from the lowliest airman to the commanding officer, wherever they were stopped and turned toward the nearest flag, and saluted, rendering honor to that symbol, to our shared principles, to those who died for them in the past, and those who have, by enlisting, promised to die, if necessary, to ensure that children will always have the opportunity to be part of America, to be Americans.
Arabic is the language of our enemies. To chose Arabic, of all languages, in that particular school, a school that has been sued for rampant anti- Semitism, is almost unimaginable. Surely the Principal must have known that that history alone would make reciting the Pledge in Arabic highly inappropriate, even insulting and destructive?
But let’s ignore that for the moment. Let’s consider instead how the nations that that practice Islam, and their beliefs and cultures, comport with the principles embodied in the Pledge:
National Loyalty and Pride: Islam recognizes no separation of church and state, only the realm of believers and that of infidels. In many Islamic nations, America is the Great Satan, the enemy of all Muslims. It is true that most Muslims do not practice violence against others–which speaks well of their character, but not their religion– and that not all Muslims are terrorists, but virtually all terrorists are Muslims. There are tens of millions of them, and more that sympathize with them and their goals. Few of these nations are anything resembling a democracy or constitutional republic. Most of these people pledge loyalty only to their faith. Their nation normally comes somewhere after family, clan and tribe, if at all.
National Unity: Muslims honor Islam, not nations. They worship Allah, not God. Even within Islam, there are divisions, and the adherents of those separate ways of looking at Islam commonly murder each other.
Liberty: Islam means “submission.” They mean it. In Islam there is no individual liberty. There is no diversity or tolerance for the beliefs–religious or otherwise–of others.
Justice For All: Sharia is a medieval code of religious law, under which there is no equality. Men have far more protections than women. Women are treated like cattle, their genitals are mutilated, they are sold as brides as adolescents, and may be killed for dishonoring their families. Many Muslim men feel it their religious duty to beat their wives and female children. Many Muslim nations deny women education, the vote, and common freedoms American women take for granted. In Saudi Arabia, a girl’s school caught fire, and a religious monitor would not allow the girls to escape because they weren’t completely covered. They all died.
Tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims consider America their greatest enemy. They do all they can to kill Americans. If they had the opportunity, they would be delighted to cut the heads off Mr. Zink, and every student and teacher in Pine Bush High School and film the decapitations for the Internet.
The only people these Muslims hate more than Americans are Jews, particularly Israelis. They are sworn to destroy Israel, and to murder all Jews. This is not, to say the least, in harmony with American principles. None of the beliefs of Islam are.
Those that have served in our military, those that have been willing to give their lives to keep barbarians from the gates, to preserve western civilization and liberty, and to preserve America, the world’s last, best hope, find credulous innocents like Mr. Zink, Mr. Hopmayer and Ms. Carbone to be fools, at best, and certainly useful idiots. Of all the languages in the world, they chose the language of the culture that most wants to destroy everything for which America stands, and everything for which innumerable Americans have worked and sacrificed.
But above all, why would anyone want to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in another language in the first place? Why would anyone want to sing the Star Spangled Banner in another language? Would any other nation welcome the performance of its national anthem in another tongue?
We welcome others to America by helping them understand our customs, our principles, our civic faith. We do it by kindly and proudly helping them to understand the liberty and justice for all for which we have fought so long and hard and given so much. We do it by helping them to become Americans. Before Barack Obama, that meant something.
As for the multicultists of Pine Bush High School and that school district, we honor America by keeping a very close eye on them from now on, and when they show the slightest tendency to dishonor America, we remind them what loyal Americas believe, as kindly, or as harshly, as their actions allow.
After all, they’re responsible for teaching our shared civic faith to children; God–not Allah–help them.
The Pine Bush School District’s official statement on the controversy is available here. You won’t be impressed.
Pine Bush High School Principal Aaron Hopmayer may be reached at:
Pine Bush CSD Sjperintendent Joan Carbone may be reached at:
As always, gentle readers, should you contact these folks, I’m sure you’ll do so civilly.