Students at Pine Bush High School in the small town of Pine Bush, N.Y. heard the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic during routine morning announcements over the intercom on Wednesday.
The gimmick was in the service of national Foreign Language Week (which was actually last week.)
Many students did not appreciate hearing the Pledge of Allegiance uttered in Arabic, reports the Times Herald-Record, a newspaper out of nearby Middletown.
The Arabic oration of the patriotic, 31-word oath was reportedly met with mockery in several classrooms and a subsequent outpouring of wrathful tweets.
“The pledge should always be said in English,” opined a typical angry tweeter. “They could’ve just said ‘Good Morning’ in a different language each day.”
At the same time, many other students enjoyed hearing the Pledge in the language common to a wide swath of the Middle East and North Africa.
Disagreement about the incident has “divided the school in half,” school district superintendent Joan Carbone said.
The reading “was supposed to be good but turned out not to be,” Carbone lamented, according to the Herald-Record.
Carbone received a litany of complaints from, for example, local residents who have lost relatives in recent wars and from parents of Jewish students. (A recent history of anti-Semitic allegations plagues the school district. There was a lawsuit in 2013.)
By Wednesday afternoon, Pine Bush High principal Aaron Hopmayer had taken to the very same intercom to clarify why he or anybody thought it would be a good idea to read the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic, and to apologize to offended students (and possibly teachers).
Senior class president Andrew Zink, who normally reads morning announcements, told the local newspaper he “knew exactly what would happen” after the Arabic Pledge reading. He said he would do the same thing again, though, because he believes saying the Pledge in Arabic is “the right thing to do.”
School district officials have since apologized for the incident “to any students, staff or community members who found this activity offensive,” according to the Mid-Hudson News.
In the future, “the Pledge of Allegiance will only be recited in English as recommended by the commissioner of Education,” a statement from the district explained.
Stories about school officials managing to screw up the Pledge of Allegiance with some wrinkle and then paying a steep price in negative publicity are surprisingly common.
Fairly amazingly, this same scenario played out almost identically in January 2013 at a high school in Fort Collins, Colo. when a group of students recited the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic over the school’s intercom. (RELATED: Students At Colorado High School Recite Pledge Of Allegiance In Arabic)
“We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our school,” Rocky Mountain High School principal Lopez said about that kerfuffle. “This is very American, not un-American.”
In October 2013, a Nebraska high school principal decided to outlaw the Pledge of Allegiance for a day because of a partial government shutdown that caused some 17 percent of the federal government (and no part of Nebraska high schools) to cease functioning. (RELATED: High School Principal Bans Pledge Of Allegiance Over Government Shutdown)
On Sept. 11, 2013, the principal at Concord-Carlisle High School in the suburbs of Boston read a Muslim poem to the entire school instead of asking students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The principal, Peter Badalament, later apologized for proving himself and his school incapable of reciting the short expression of patriotism on the anniversary of coordinated al-Qaeda terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people on American soil. (RELATED: Sept. 11, 2013: A Muslim Poem But No Pledge Of Allegiance At Boston-Area High School)