Pop quiz: What is the official language of the United States?
If you answered English, you would be wrong. The United States has no official national language, for we live in the great melting pot of the world.
The United States is composed of people of all nationalities, ethnic groups, faiths and ideologies. Growing up, I was taught that America’s diversity was something of which we were to be proud, something that made us different. So when a high-school student organization is formed for the purpose of “destroy[ing] the barriers, embrac[ing] the cultures” of a diverse student body, you might expect that organization to receive full support in its efforts.
Embracing diversity, it turns out, is a scary thing to put into practice when it involves those scary Arabs. At Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo., a group of students known as the Cultural Arms Club is under fire for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic. What should, in an ideal world, be a non-story lit up the Internet today. While many people have voiced support for the youngsters taking this initiative, some dissenters are downright angry about the audacity of reciting the Pledge in a language other than English – especially the language of the terrorists!
One of the greatest points of contention is derived from the fact that the word “Allah” was used in the recitation in place of the word “God.” Though “Allah” literally translates to “God,” some people are very upset that students would dare utter that word during the sacred oath to our country.
The group has garnered complaints for the practice of reciting the Pledge in another language in the past once before, when they used Spanish.
Fortunately the kids in the group seem to have their heads on straight. In fact, most seem absolutely baffled that there has been an outcry at all. After all, the point of the organization is to promote and embrace diversity, and now they are under fire for doing just that.
In the end, Arabic is just another language. It is not exclusive to Islam, and we should be ecstatic that students are taking the initiative to familiarize their classmates with other cultures. I applaud the students for their boldness, as well as Principal Lopez of RMHS for standing up for the students. U.S. citizens of all languages and backgrounds should feel free to recite the Pledge in their own way, and anyone who wants to deter that needs to rethink values.
I do have to wonder how much of this chaos could be avoided if the line “under God” was simply stricken from the Pledge altogether…