Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic at High School Once Again Stirs Controversy

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic at High School Once Again Stirs Controversy

by Sheila Musaji

Two years ago, I wrote about a previous controversy Pamela Geller discovers “Pledge of Allegiance Jihad”.  The current controversy took place at Pine Bush High School in New York where a student recited the pledge in Arabic during foreign language week.  Once again it became a divisive issue.

A State Education Department spokesman said that there is no state requirement to recite the Pledge in English.

Nevertheless, the school district received enough angry complaints that they posted an apology for having allowed the pledge to be read in Arabic. 

Here is the full press statement from the school district:

To honor National Foreign Language week and in an effort to celebrate the many races, cultures and religions that make up this great country and our school district, the foreign language department planned many activities, including reading the Pledge of Allegiance and morning announcements in different languages this week. The intention was to promote the fact that those who speak a language other than English still pledge to salute this great country.

We sincerely apologize to any students, staff or community members who found this activity disrespectful. In our school district the Pledge of Allegiance will only be recited in English as recommended by the Commissioner of Education.

And, of course, the Islamophobia echo chamber once again had to add their own special brand of bigotry to the discussion.  Pamela Geller called this the “Islamization of public schools”, and “infiltration”.  A Huffington Post article was titled Laura Ingraham Equates Arabic Speakers To Skinheads In Pledge Of Allegiance Rant.  Daniel Greenfield claimed the school was teaching kids to recite the pledge in Arabic and had “changed the pledge to one nation under Allah”.  Just about anyone who is anyone in the world of anti-Muslim bigotry weighed in with their take.  Even the Islamophobia enabler Zuhdi Jasser weighed in with his own brand of nonsense.  Here is an article from Media Matters that did a good job of collecting some of these:  Right-Wing Media Outraged That Pledge Of Allegiance Was Recited In Arabic At NY School.

This controversy is remarkably similar to the previous controversy, so it is worth repeating the previous article:

In Fort Collins, Colorado, a high school multi-cultural club (representing the students many backgrounds) asked if they could take turns reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in their different languages periodically.  The principal gave his permission.  The students have recited the Pledge previously in French and Spanish This week it was recited in Arabic.  The students are planning to recite in Chinese and other languages in the future.

The school principal who gave the students permission to do this, has been surprised by some of the reactions. The Fort Collins 9 News quoted the principal as saying:

...“We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our school.  This is very American, not un-American.” ...  “I guess I’m getting worn down a little bit by how intense their sense of hate has been represented in some of the things they’ve written and said.”  ...   “When they pledge allegiance to United States, that’s exactly what they’re saying—they’re just using another language as their vehicle.”

This is not an unusual practice. In Lamont, California elementary schools begin the day with a recitation of the pledge in both English and Spanish, every day, for 10 years. **. A high school in Wisconsin has allowed foreign exchange students to recite the pledge in their own language. **. It has created controversy from those who want an English only policy.

Pamela Geller posted an article about this most recent example of “creeping sharia”, and imminent takeover of America by Muslims.  Geller says:  Madness. Your taxpayer dollars at work to advance Islamic culture: a culture, by its very nature, designed to destroy all others. They are at war with us. Would school students in 1944 have recited the Pledge in German?

Every vestige of maintaining that she has no problem with Muslims only with Islam is gone. She goes on to refer to a previous article of hers in which she said

Yes, on the face of it, yes, Arabic is a language. In a sense there would be no difference between opening a foreign language school—a Spanish language school or a french language school—but in fact Arabic is more than a language. It is explicated the language of Islam, so in that sense it is part of the Islamic religious imperial project. Radical Islam advances through the Arabic language. And you go all kinds of places that aren’t in the Arab world now, like Pakistan, Indonesia, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada and the United States, and you will here those Imams preaching in Arabic. Arabic is not just another language like French or Italian, it is the spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States.

I’ve written before about the fact that Islamophobes see “jihad” everywhere and had written about other examples Geller had found of Non-Existent Arabic Jihad Plots.

There are so many problems with this hateful take on a perfectly harmless and even patriotic effort by a group of high school students that it would take a book to respond appropriately. 

There is no mention anywhere of the religion of the student(s) who recited the pledge in Arabic.  They might be Christian or Jewish or Muslim.  There are lots of Arab speakers who are not Muslim.  In fact, the majority of Arab-Americans are Christian. 

To call the Arabic language part of a “religious imperial project”, or “the spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States” is simply bigotry.  Is speaking the Arabic language somehow dangerous?  Is Arabic a “savage” language that undermines the values of “civilization”?

But the one paragraph in Geller’s screed deserves to be analyzed almost word by word:

Your taxpayer dollars at work to advance Islamic culture.  It is OUR taxpayer dollars that pay for public schools.  All Americans, Arabs and Muslims included.  ALL of US are part of WE the people.  It is not US against THEM. 

Islamic culture: a culture, by its very nature, designed to destroy all others. I have no words except that this is frighteningly reminiscent of anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda against the Jews. 

They are at war with us.  So, every American of Arabic descent and every American Muslim are THEY and THEY are at war with US?  WE are being excluded from being American?  Is even a high school student who speaks Arabic no longer protected by the Constitution or part of WE the people of the United States?  Is every one of us THE ENEMY. 

Would school students in 1944 have recited the Pledge in German?.  Is every American Arab and American Muslim equivalent to Nazis? 

Is it un-American to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic? 

“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.”

There is no way to understand what Geller has said but that she and her hate groups AFDI/SIOA have declared war not just on American Muslims but also on American Arabs.  This is truly pathological hatred and it deserves to be condemned.


High School Punishes Student President For Allowing Arabic Translation Of Pledge Of Allegiance

NY school sorry for reciting Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic

Pledge of Allegiance reading in Arabic sparks controversy at New York school

Pledge of Allegiance Read in Arabic, Causing Uproar at New York High School