Members of the Fargo School Board from the conservative state of North Dakota decided to pick a culture war fight. They axed the Pledge of Allegiance from their meetings, and then they reaped the whirlwind.
Some of the criticism they’ve received has been measured and reasonable. Much of it — that which came from people ranting about “communists” and “libtards” — was not. But that’s not news. We live in a digital age where everyone is more empowered than ever before in history to broadcast their views to large audiences, and what we’ve learned is that many of these people don’t have anything to say that’s worth listening to.
The woke school board voted to do away with the Pledge because the phrase “under God” explicitly does not include all faiths out there in the community. Fargo School Board voted 7 to 2 to drop the Pledge of Allegiance ahead of their board meetings.
Board vice president Seth Holden said at the Aug. 9 meeting that the Pledge of Allegiance was contrary to the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities.
“Given that the word ‘God’ in the text of the Pledge of Allegiance is capitalized, the text is clearly referring to the Judeo-Christian God, and therefore, it does not include any other faiths such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism,” Holden said, adding that this made the pledge of allegiance a “non-inclusionary act.”
Reciting the pledge is a “non-inclusionary act” and there is text within the pledge that is “simply not true,” Holden added.
“The statement that we are ‘one nation under God’ is simply an untrue statement,” Holden said. “We are one nation under many or no gods.”
Tracie Newman, who is board president, recommended that a member recite “a shared statement of purpose that would bring us all together” at the start of the meetings instead of the pledge, adding that it would be “unifying.”
“I’m just not sure that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is a useful way to begin every one of our board meetings,” Newman said at the Aug. 9 meeting.
North Dakota’s Republican Party called the board’s Aug. 9 vote “laughable” and an “affront to our American values.”
Republican State Sen. Scott Meyer told North Dakota media outlets last week that he would start work on a school voucher bill draft to allow public money to pay for private school tuition.
“These positions like by the Fargo School Board just don’t align with North Dakota values,” he said. “The logical solution is to just give parents that option to help educate their kids.”
Robin Nelson was one of two board members who voted on Aug. 9 to keep the pledge.
“It was a very easy ‘no’ vote from me from the get-go. I knew right away it would be controversial,” Nelson told Fargo’s Valley News Live.
“Our focus should be on our great students and teachers and education, but this is going to detract from that and really shed more negative publicity on the Fargo school district, and quite frankly, we don’t need that.”
Nelson’s words were proved correct. The decision prompted an outcry across the country, which led the board to hold the Aug. 18 meeting to discuss reinstating the pledge.
After facing a huge amount of backlash, the school district is looking at walking back its decision to ban the pledge at school board meetings.
“The action taken at the meeting was not to negate the Board’s support of patriotism, the love of one’s country or support of the flag of the United States,” a memo from board president Tracie Newman states. “However, the amount of feedback has made it evident that correcting notions to comprehensively reflect Board decision will divert even more staff and Board time and resources away from preparing for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.“