Paul  Weyrich

Remember in grade school when we first were introduced to the Pledge of Allegiance? One can picture that scene everywhere in America, no matter if it occurred in a one-room school house or in a sophisticated, high-tech school in an urban area: children learned the Pledge. Indeed, I learned the Pledge before the words "under God" were added in 1954, so I occasionally stumble over that line. I am recalling how I originally learned the Pledge. My father, a German immigrant, and my grandfather on my mother's side, a Norwegian immigrant, both told of learning the Pledge in the classes they took to learn English.

Likewise the Star-Spangled Banner. It always was sung in schools, although not always by the whole class. Learning the words are among my early childhood memories. Of course, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star-Spangled Banner were always in English. Even in the classes teaching English, it was a challenge to learn them in English. Not any more. ProEnglish notes that students in schools from Arizona to Wisconsin are asked to recite the Pledge in Spanish, this in the name of diversity. In fact, some schools are even reciting the Pledge in German or Korean.

By the way, the Spanish lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner are not a direct translation. One of the lyrics was changed to read, "They can't help where they were born," sung to a salsa beat.

ProEnglish, in a backgrounder, quotes the late Barbara Jordan, who was Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, saying "Cultural and religious diversity does not pose a threat to the national interest as long as public policies insure civic unity." With the public overwhelmingly against reciting the Pledge and singing the Star-Spangled Banner in a foreign language, such policies certainly do not foster civic unity.

ProEnglish is backing remedial legislation to meet the objections of critics of Pledge diversity. H.R. 6783 is wanting for co-sponsors. Talking points in support of the bill state that reciting the Pledge or singing the Star Spangled Banner in languages other than English undermines the spirit of national unity. The talking points identify two different polls, one by Opinion Dynamics, the other by Gallup, both of which show overwhelming opposition to reciting the Pledge or singing the Anthem in any language other than English.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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