With Liberty and Justice for All

A recent news story about a New York school allowing students to recite the pledge of allegiance in Arabic sparked controversy across the country. It appears that many were upset by this, and the school ended up apologizing for allowing it. My question is why?

The school had been reciting the pledge in different languages each day. Why is it that when it was recited in Arabic, it was offensive? The translation remains the same. The pledge of allegiance is just that — a statement of allegiance to our nation. If it can be transformed into every language, it serves the purpose of being inclusive to all of the diverse people who live in this country. America is not an exclusively English speaking country. In fact, there is no national language. I do feel that people who live here should have at least a basic grasp on the English language because it is the most commonly spoken one. If I moved to China, I would expect to start learning Chinese. But that is a different topic from the one at hand.

I am trying to understand why pledging one’s allegiance is offensive. Do we prohibit people from saying the pledge in Japanese because of Pearl Harbor? Or in German because of WWII? Or in Russian because of, well, read the news these days about Putin? No. Specifically getting defensive once it is recited in Arabic is wrong. Americans should not feel offended that it was recited in Arabic (and how are we defining Americans in this situation? English-speaking white Americans?) If anyone should be offended, it is the large number of peaceful, hardworking Arabic-speaking people that live and work in this country, many of them American citizens. I feel ashamed that there was such a terrible reaction and that the school actually conceded and apologized rather than standing up for the equal rights of its Arabic-speaking students. After all, the last line of the pledge of allegiance is in fact “With liberty and justice for all.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Katie C. says:

    Amen. Language should not be considered offensive. Language is just the sound that a person makes in order to express an idea, and if the idea is the same, then it’s THE SAME. People can be so stupid! I’m actually shocked that the school caved into social pressure like that. School is a place where you expect people to do the right thing, regardless of whether or not it’s popular…*sigh* What an example for those kids.


    1. vnp1210 says:

      Precisely! And how confusing it must be for the Arabic-speaking student who went from proudly reciting the pledge to trying to understand what all the commotion was about. I am so sad for the student who got this taste of hatred and racism.


  2. diahannreyes says:

    Great point. What is wrong with saying the pledge of allegiance in any language at all indeed? I actually think to have taken the time and effort to translate into another language is a compliment of its own. And in a way, a desire to embrace something even more deeply in one’s native tongue.


    1. vnp1210 says:

      Agreed. People have such a superficial sense of injustice.


  3. amkuska says:

    Uh…the pledge of allegiance is still the pledge regardless of language. O.o I fail to see how this could possible be offensive.


    1. vnp1210 says:

      I agree. “Patriotism” at its finest.


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