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Unpatriotic'? Arabic Pledge of Allegiance Recitation at Colo. High School Sparks Controversy


"We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our school."

People hold their hands to their hearts during the Pledge of Allegiance before Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke at a campaign rally at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Thursday, March 1, 2012. Credit: AP

 Credit: AP 

Controversy is brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., after a Rocky Mountain High School decided to allow a multicultural student group to recite the Pledge of Allegiance over the loudspeaker in Arabic, among other languages. The situation landed Principal Tom Lopez in hot water, with a slew of angry statements and threats being phoned into the school.

Lopez, citing an extremely diverse school body, explained that he was approached by the student-led Cultural Arms Club and asked whether pupils could recite the Pledge in languages other than English. French, Spanish and Arabic were some of the options that were chosen, with the school agreeing to allow students to read the Pledge in these tongues during morning announcements.

Recent frustration over the decision is making headlines, but this isn't the first time that patriotism and intent have been questioned surrounding the school's controversial Pledge allowances. The Coloradoan reports that angst over the club's actions first began back in November:

Members in November recited the Pledge in Spanish, sparking intense debate about whether saying the words of the Pledge in any language other than English was unpatriotic.

Despite “rude” comments from classmates who disagreed with the November recital and anticipated “resistance” this week, Cultural Arms Club members decided to go forward with translating the Pledge into Arabic. They have plans for translating it into American Sign Language, Korean and possibly Chinese.

"We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our school," the principal explained.

He defended Rocky Mountain's decision, claiming that the Pledge is still an allegiance and devotion to the U.S., regardless of what tongue it is uttered through.

"When they pledge allegiance to United States, that's exactly what they're saying," Lopez added. "They're just using another language as their vehicle."

What started as an attempt to recognize this diversity has ended up being a headache for Lopez, who is fielding calls from angry community members who are outraged that the Pledge is being recited in Arabic -- or in any language other than English.

"I guess I'm getting worn down a little by how intense their sense of hate has been represented in some of the things they've written and said," he told KSLA of the ongoing response.

In addition to the furor, Lopez said that the school has also received positive comments about the inclusive nature of the club's approach to the Pledge.

What do you think? Should the Pledge be recited in any language other than English? Do you feel the club's actions are beneficial to the school community -- or divisive?  Let us know in the comments section.


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