When you're in grade school, the Pledge of Allegiance is just a fancy way to say a lot of nothing about America. As someone who went six years without really learning the definition of terms like "allegiance," "indivisible," and "libertyndjusticeferall," I can testify to that.
We preach these mythic intangibles without comprehending the message embedded in their syllables. (Think Sarah Palin lamenting islamo-facist-socialism-ism.)
Then, when junior high rolls around, we find enlightenment. Some of us begin to reject the idea of swearing loyalty to an inanimate object every morning, especially when we're tired and still have Algebra to do. The rebels among us rise from their seats but stay silent, shaking off dirty looks from 20-or-so others who stand around chanting the words "liberty" and "justice" in perfect unison. That image, America, is hypocrisy unraveling in its purest form.
In Colorado, a similar parody writes itself this week. Story has it that a high school principal is under intense scrutiny after allowing a group of students to use the word God in a recitation of the Pledge. You read that right.
So, you're probably asking, what gives?
Consider that the students at Rocky Mountain High School dared to utter the Arabic word for a given deity, "Allah," in their version of the Pledge. That term -- it's worth noting -- translates back to English not as "Satan" or "Death to America" or "Limbaugh," but simply as "God." It's not an Islam-centric expression or an affront to Americanism as much as it's a series of sounds that conveys a particular idea in a particular region. Arabic Christians call their god "Allah," too.
But it's no matter here in the land of the free, where some believe we're only free to express allegiance in the language of our one-time oppressor. As Al-Jazeera notes, the idea originated from the school's Cultural Arms Club, which promotes multicultural awareness, a fundamentally good thing (opinion: mine). Students had previously given Bellamy's verses the same treatment in other languages: French, Spanish. But the Arabic rendition approved by Principal Tom Lopez is the one that triggered a local outcry and a nationwide debate.
The irony herein is obvious: in trying to defend an ode to the nation's founding principles -- chief among them, freedom -- hundreds of angry citizens have openly defied those cherished values. It seems the same people who scoff at the notion of removing God from public schools are furious, now, that he has been left in for once. Imagine the outrage when they find out their hallowed verses were penned by a socialist.
"What is wrong with America," cried TheBlaze commenter "StoneWALLJACKSON." (Ahem, sorry, "StoneMike" was the actual name.) "Every parent of every child should pull their child out of this school! Every teacher, every administrator should be fired and loyalty oaths [sic] should be given to every teacher in America! We are headed for civil war and when it starts I hope someone pops the Mexican teacher that instigated this treason!"
Mexicans, Arabic -- it's complicated, really, but only because it doesn't make any sense.
Then there was Twitter user @DrJakeBaker. Just how stupid did user @DrkJakeBaker think it was that a school allowed the Pledge to be recited in Arabic?
"Patheticly [sic] Stupid Principal allows Arabic Pledge of Allegiance Recitation at Co HS-Pledge One Nation Under Allah," user @DrJakeBaker said.
Evident in these outbursts is that the men responsible for them possess little more than an elementary schoolchild's understanding of the words they're defending. While a call to remove God from the Pledge altogether is perfectly reasonable in a freely worshiping nation, a call to remove particular name for a god is not, by any means.
Such an appeal is tantamount to barring a certain group from voting, forbidding a certain race from drinking the same water as another, prohibiting a certain house of worship from being built on ground deemed sacred
In Colorado, freedom apparently comes with an asterisk. That's the message sent when an experiment in culture turns into "over my dead body, and I don't die easy," as it was met by Twitter user @RiverRoads.
To these irate parents, perhaps, the Pledge is just a series of big words that don't really stand for anything in the first place. A conflation of Patriotic gibberish that embodies America. That being the reality, one section of Francis Bellamy's oath comes off as especially absurd.
Impossible, considering the circumstances. Beyond comprehension. A type of mythical gobbledygook.
Ask any first-grader and it becomes obvious: the part where we preach "libertyndjustice" -- chuckle -- "ferall."