DeMint’s Vacuous Cheerleading »« Funniest Motion to Intervene Ever

OMG! The Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic!

If ever a public school was trolling for a Todd Starnes overreaction, it’s Rocky Mountain High School in Ft. Collins, Colorado, which allowed students to recite the pledge of allegiance in Arabic. Cue the “they’re turning these kids into Muslim terrorists” screed in 3…2…1:

A Colorado high school principal is defending his decision to allow students from a cultural club to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic — and denied that it was attempt to push an Islamic agenda.

Tom Lopez, the principal at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, told Fox News he has received a number of telephone calls and emails from outraged parents – but he stands by his decision.

“These students love this country,” he said. “They were not being un-American in trying to do this. They believed they were accentuating the meaning of the words as spoken regularly in English.”

The school recites the Pledge of Allegiance once a week and on Monday a member of the Cultural Arms Club led the student body in the Arabic version of the pledge.

Clark said the cultural club has a history of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in a number of different languages.

“It’s not just Arabic,” she said.

Last year, the group found itself in a firestorm of controversy after reciting the pledge in Spanish.

“This is a student-initiated and student-led club,” Clark said. “There is no school sponsor or advisor. It doesn’t come under the umbrella of the district.”

She said the students simply asked the principal permission as a courtesy.

“We deferred to the students because it’s their deal,” she said.

Club members said they don’t understand why there’s a controversy.

“No matter what language it’s said in, pledging your allegiance to the United States is the same in every language,” student Skyler Bowden told The Coloradoan.

But an Arabic translation of the Pledge of Allegiance would have replaced “one nation under God” with “one nation under Allah.”

But the reaction of this blog is just dripping with irony.

Let’s put his into perspective for the feeble-minded Clark and Lopez. It is not the student’s choice. They do not control the public address system. It was a school choice.

Her simplistic defense included a reference to “one” supportive email and a reference to a similar mistake last year which drew controversy when the pledge was recited in Spanish. Somehow not learning from and expanding upon your previous mistakes is perceived as a viable defense for these educators.

An abdication of responsibility is also part of their defense. Clark attempted to pass the buck of responsibility to the students, saying, “This is a student-initiated and student-led club. There is no school sponsor or advisor. It doesn’t come under the umbrella of the district.”

Actually, the activity of reciting the pledge does come under the district. Choosing to put it into the hands of a group not regulated by their administrators does not provide absolution.

Oh, the irony. Wanna bet this guy would scream bloody murder if an administration tried to prevent a student from saying a prayer during a graduation ceremony or before a football game? Sorry, he’d scream bloody murder if it was a Christian prayer being stopped. As always, when the Christian right says “religious freedom” what they really mean is “Christian privilege.”

But here’s the thing: Other than the fact that the pledge says “under God” in it, this isn’t a religious issue at all. Arabic is a language, not a religion. A Christian or Jewish Arab — and there are lots of both — would also say Allah because that’s the Arabic word for God. It has nothing to do with religion.

Update: Turns out this is an old story and I missed the date. To make things worse, I think I actually wrote about it when it happened the first time. The lesson, as always: I should pay more attention when writing at 4 in the morning.

Comments

  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Reads to end…

    Double takes .. wipes eyes, checks a again and a third time …

    the Arabic word for God. It has nothing to do with religion.

    Word for God = nothing to do with religion!? For real?

    Allowing the kids to say the oath of allegiance in Arabic – or any other language is fine by me.

    Taking them through those words in the pledge and what they mean and the values behind them and reasons for it, history thereof and so on would be even better of course – again, whatever language its done in.

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Come to think of it :

    an Arabic translation of the Pledge of Allegiance would have replaced “one nation under God” with “one nation under Allah.”

    An actual Arabic translation would all be in Arabic characters and words and thus unreadable to me and I suppose most people reading this. (I.e. whatever’s Arabic for “nation” “one” and “under” plus “Allah” in place of and meaning God in English in whatever order Arabic grammar degrees – backwards or right to left or however they do it. Anyone know?)

    An English translation of that Arabic back into the words in the pledge should get,well, the exact same line that is in the Pledge.

  3. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @2. theschwa : “Wait until those parents find out the school has also been teaching the kids Arabic numbers!!”

    This school may bean exception but I’m pretty sure they still teach maths in english – just using the Arabic – or actually aren’t they Sanskrit numerals adopted from centuries ago by most post-Renaissence western cultures.

    I’m pretty sure the Arabs like the French, Germans and Japanese use something other than “one” two” three” in their pronunciation of the common numerical symbols! / pedant.

  4. says

    Off topic, but

    The school recites the Pledge of Allegiance once a week

    Am I the only surprised that they only recite the pledge once a week? It was always a daily thing for me growing up (well, daily ritual, I rarely said it after 6th grade).

  5. says

    “they’re turning these kids into Muslim terrorists”

    The fact that they fear the pledge in Arabic might turn American kids into Muslims, rather than turn Muslim kids into Americans, just goes to show how little faith they have in the pledge or the values it stands for to begin with.

  6. eric says

    StevoR @1: seems pretty clear what Ed meant. The choice of the word ‘allah’ for ‘god’ has nothing to do with one being muslim and doesn’t imply any commitment to islam or any other specific religion. It’s just a translation of the pledge into arabic.

    @3: the word ‘Allah’ occurs a huge amount in muslim art and architecture. Because modern islam forbids its followers from using religious images, they use calligraphy as decoration instead. You can find several pictures of it’s use here

  7. chrisho-stuart says

    Just for fun; In Malaysia there is a debate over the use of the word Allah; the courts have held and continue to hold that it is a word that can only be legally used by Muslims. Books of other religions, specifically Roman Catholic, have been banned for using the word Allah to refer to God in their own faith.

    This ruling has recently been upheld in the Malaysian High Court. Here’s a link to an article about it in the Malaysia Chronicle, May 5. Allah has always been for Muslims

    As I understand it, this is with reference to the Malay language, in which Allah is a loan word from Arabic.

  8. says

    Last year, the group found itself in a firestorm of controversy after reciting the pledge in Spanish.

    Well, I guess I lied in #5 above. As I recall, as a freshman in high school, I had Spanish during 1st period (when the pledge was read) and we were required to say it in Spanish. We could omit the “una nacion bajo dios” bit.

  9. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @7. eric :

    StevoR @1: seems pretty clear what Ed meant. The choice of the word ‘allah’ for ‘god’ has nothing to do with one being muslim and doesn’t imply any commitment to islam or any other specific religion. It’s just a translation of the pledge into arabic.

    Yeah, I get what he meant, its just the Allah = NOT religion juxtaposition that struck me.

    @3: the word ‘Allah’ occurs a huge amount in muslim art and architecture. Because modern islam forbids its followers from using religious images, they use calligraphy as decoration instead. You can find several pictures of it’s use here.

    Thanks. Looks like the letters ‘Wl’ to me.

  10. says

    @Steve #3

    An English translation of that Arabic back into the words in the pledge should get,well, the exact same line that is in the Pledge.

    For fun, I used Google Translate to do just that

    Original:

    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.

    Translated:
    أتعهد بالولاء للعلم
    الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية
    وإلى جمهورية التي تمثلها،
    أمة واحدة تحت الله، غير قابلة للتجزئة،
    مع الحرية والعدالة للجميع.

    Translated back:

    I pledge allegiance to the flag
    USA
    And to the Republic posed,
    One nation under God, indivisible,
    With liberty and justice for all.

  11. Synfandel says

    I have a simple solution. Stop with the pledging and get on with the educating.

  12. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    .. Or the Greek Omega as in ω Centauri – the star that’s actually a mini-galaxy sphere of hundreds of millions of stars in one and at a staggering fifteen thousand eight hundred light years distant from us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_Centauri

  13. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @JJ831 : Neat. Cheers for that.

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @Synfandel : What if they use the pledge to educate?

  15. dingojack says

    Here Ya go Stevo, knock yourself out –
    أتعهد بالولاء لعلم الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، وجمهورية التي تمثلها، أمة واحدة تحت الله، مع الحرية والعدالة للجميع.
    Dingo

  16. raven says

    EB pretty much explained it.

    1. Arabic is a language not a religion.

    2. Some Arabs are xians. Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israeil, and Egypt have significant Arab xian minorities.

  17. dogmeat says

    What if they use the pledge to educate

    As an educator, I can tell you that this is rarely the case. Indoctrinate, intimidate, bully, yes, to educate, not so much. I do so when we talk about the 1st amendment and the Lemon Test, and some of the foreign language classes do so when they do translation exercises like this school, but otherwise my experience suggests it’s mostly about the indoctrination.

  18. eric says

    Looks like the letters ‘Wl’ to me.

    Arabic reads right to left. With that it mind, it kinda reminds me of “ill” or “illa”

  19. D. C. Sessions says

    It’s a pity that that phrase in the Pledge isn’t just ceremonial deism — if it were, the word used wouldn’t matter.

  20. says

    Remember, in a large majority of the proponents of right wing ideology, words are magic and if you say the wrong ones bad scary things happen.

  21. magistramarla says

    As a Latin teacher, I had a poster of the pledge in Latin posted in my room, and just for fun, I also had one with the pledge in Greek. The German teacher had one in German, the French teacher had one in French and most of the Spanish teachers had one in Spanish. It was fun for the students to occasionally recite the pledge in the “target” language. It’s just an accepted practice in teaching a Foreign language.
    Aaarrrgh! Politicians just need to stay out of classrooms.

  22. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @16. dingojack : Cheers for that too.

    *****

    It occurs to me that having people recite the pledge in their own language(s) is a good thing – its inclusive and shows tolerance and kindness and welcoming that should be expected and understood in a nation formed from emigrants all around the world.

    Whatever happened to that other wonderful American slogan generally spoken in a foreign (& dead) tongue E pluribus unem – from many one.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply