During National Foreign Language Week at Pine Bush High School in New York, a student read the Pledge of Allegiance to America in Arabic.
This seemingly innocent and entirely appropriate act sparked outrage on the right and saw Fox New guests somehow link it to ISIS.
The problem, according to Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, was that the students would have had to say to "under God, or under Allah."
"[Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] Al-Baghdadi is trying to unify the caliphate under that," he said. "The youth, our Muslim youth who might be radicalized, they’re Islamopatriots going to fight with ISIS. So the pledge strikes at the core of what we’re fighting."
"We are at war against radical Islam, which uses the Arabic language," Jasser said.
Sure. You can recite an oath of allegiance to America, but if you say it in Arabic you might radicalize fellow students who will be moved to join ISIS.
I occasionally encounter Arab speaking people at the grocery store. Their language doesn't make me want to join ISIS, but apparently that is a risk according to some unhinged assholes.
The right-wing noise machine was not limited to the airwaves of Fox News. Radio hosts and Daily Caller trolls picked up the story as well in addition to a wide range of Fox screechers.
The collective outrage and Islamophobia-gasm led Pine Bush High School to issue an apology for allowing a student to read a pledge of allegiance "to this great country" in another language.
We sincerely apologize for having the Pledge of Allegiance recited this morning in the High School in a language other than English.
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 to read 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.
This is somehow a bad thing.
Now that we are through the looking glass, the student who approved the Arabic reading has been reprimanded and barred from organizing a student rally to discuss it.
PINE BUSH - When senior class president Andrew Zink reported as he usually does to read the morning's announcements at Pine Bush High School on Thursday, he was told his services were no longer needed.
"You're not doing it anymore," Zink says he was told by high school Principal Aaron Hopmayer.
Later in the day, after Zink had circulated word that he wanted to hold a rally to "talk about" the issues swirling around the school, Hopmayer called him into his office and said it couldn't happen.
I can only assume that Zink had no idea that so-called adults would react in this manner to reading the pledge in Arabic.
I also assume that we would not be discussing this if it were read in French or Spanish, because no one would care. Something about the Arabic language, which tragically refers to God as "Allah" rather than "God," keeps scardey-pants adults awake at night.
Describing America as "indivisible" with "liberty and justice for all" is more a suggestion than a mandate.