EDITORIAL: Oversensitive Madison ruling against the Pledge of Allegiance eventually revoked

Ray Feller

It is only in an era completely overpowered by the concern for political correctness that a ruling such as the Madison School Board’s plan to replace the Pledge of Allegiance with an instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” could be dreamt up.Their first objection is the referencing of G-d in the pledge. How could we dare let children say a line such as “one nation, under G-d” in a public school? How could we dare to disrespect the atheists of the world, or those who believe in multiple gods, or people who are agnostic and may want a less certain statement?

I understand that religion holds many sensitivities, but it seems that the message of patriotism, which the pledge provides, is a little more substantial than any possible disrespect to differing beliefs. Are we also intending on revoking our paper money and coins because it offends people to have to look down and read “In G-d we trust” with every transaction?

While the musical aspects of our national anthem are apparently not offensive enough to cut, the words are, according to the Madison School Board’s original scheme, which only allowed an instrumental version of the song. The concern was, and this is a stretch, that after the tragedies of Sept. 11, evil thoughts could be inspired in our children with words like “bombs bursting in air.”

Perhaps the fear was that the pledge and the anthem might cause too much nationalism. But do we have to immediately fear the creation of the worst possible extremist patriots? Can’t we instead recall the overwhelming gratitude from Americans that, if these tragedies have accomplished any good, it is a loyalty that has been long missing from this country?

There is a point where it ceases to be more important to defend people who haven’t claimed offense. The tendency to assume that something might hurt feelings should not be treated as proof that people will be upset. It would be wrong to make a pledge an enforced requirement of each student, but to deprive everyone of this opportunity to come together as a country because of needless fear seems ridiculous.

I appreciate that Madison revoked its decision. I notice I am not the only one who was upset—over 20,000 calls and e-mails helped encourage the eventual 6-1 vote of the board on Oct. 16 to revoke the ruling. My only remaining complaint, then, is that people have become so sensitive of the mere potential for hurt feelings that such a ridiculous proposal could ever have been made in the first place.