A Hedge of Allegiance
Until recently, most people didn’t know that a town called St. Louis Park, Minnesota even existed. And if you asked most residents, a vote against the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t how they’d choose to be introduced. But thanks to five misguided council members, the suburb of Minneapolis is officially on the map. And not in a way anyone’s proud of.
“I hope it’s not too controversial.” Those were the famous last words of councilman Tim Brausen, one of the leaders responsible for turning the sleepy suburb of Minneapolis into the biggest battleground for patriotism since the NFL. The credit for that also belongs to Ward 2’s Anne Mavity, who insists that saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of every council meeting scares people away from government participation. It’s “polarizing,” she argued.
No, the town fired back — what’s polarizing is taking a 40-year tradition and turning it into a political statement. Still, Mavity pressed, “Not everyone who does business with the city or has a conversation is a citizen,” Mavity argued. “They certainly don’t need to come into city council chambers and pledge their allegiance to our country in order to tell us what their input is about a sidewalk…” Well, if St. Louis Park is full of people who don’t understand that they’re in America, the town has bigger problems to worry about. But if “foreigners” are Mavity’s best case for shutting down the Pledge in a town of 49,000, it’s no wonder locals are outraged.
And boy, are they. It took less than three minutes for the council to agree on the motion June 17 — and every hour since then dealing with the blowback. Townspeople have organized protests, lined the streets with flags, and flooded council phone lines with complaints. Monday night, members decided to hear arguments for keeping the pledge — and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Residents decked out in red, white, and blue got into a heated back-and-forth with the council, while outside, people along the road chanted the pledge as cars passed by.
Some Minnesotans, like Tom Blondell, drove for hours to stand in solidarity with the locals. “I think you either pledge allegiance to the country you come to,” he said, “or your allegiance is elsewhere. And that doesn’t work.” Others, like Sheri Auclair, came to the meeting from Wayzata. “My blood boiled,” she told reporters. “My blood absolutely boiled. People have died for this country. They have laid their life on the line. … If you don’t want to recite it, then go back to the country that you came from and live under the conditions that you left.”
In a show of defiance, almost everyone in attendance at city hall stood and recited the pledge before Monday’s debate kicked off — “something council members said had never been customary at the specific type of meeting they were holding Monday night.” After weeks of negative feedback (for a vote he wasn’t even present for!), Mayor Jake Spano pushed for the council to reinstate the tradition. “While I’ve never been a fan of doing things just because that’s the way things have always been done,” he explained, “I’ve always used the last six words [of the pledge] — ‘With liberty and justice for all’ — as a reminder to me that we need to make our community more open and welcoming for all our neighbors, not just a select few.”
By night’s end, though, the council was no closer to a decision. If national attention is any indication, the hot seat is only getting hotter. Even President Trump weighed in, tweeting, “Outrage is growing in the Great State of Minnesota where our Patriots are now having to fight for the right to say the Pledge of Allegiance! I will be fighting with you!” Even the traditionally Left-leaning media seemed taken aback by the council’s overreaction. The editorial board at the Star Tribune stoked the fire, reminding the council that “people have options.”
“They can proudly join in. Or silently observe. Within reason, they can signal protest. These are acts of conscience. A final choice, ambivalence, is the one that isn’t admirable. All in this country in any capacity should cherish living in a place where differences of opinion and passion freely exist, albeit tensely. Given the emotional scenes at naturalization ceremonies, we’d bet that new and prospective citizens, especially, understand what’s at stake.”
There are plenty of issues to divide us in this country. Our identity as Americans shouldn’t be one of them. We are “one nation, indivisible.” And it couldn’t hurt for places like St. Louis Park’s city council to be reminded.
Originally published here.
The Empire State’s New Clothes
In New York City public schools, students can choose their classes, their sports, and their genders! Starting this fall, Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is making the Big Apple an even bigger news story by radically changing the city’s policy on registered names, dress codes, bathrooms, locker rooms, and athletics. He says this is his way of celebrating Pride month. But “proud” is the last word most parents would use to describe the news.
In this new Wild West of gender identity, Carranza is giving the green light to everything from unofficial name changes to unisex school uniforms. “Schools are safe havens for students to develop their passions and discover their true identities, and these new guidelines celebrate and affirm all students,” Carranza insisted in a statement. For the first time, kids in the 2019-2020 school year will be able to “self-report names and genders” when enrolling in the city’s public schools.
“With this updated policy, which allows students to change their name and gender on school records without legal documentation, we are signaling our support for all students regardless of gender identity,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson cheered. Once the families submit their “name and gender change request form,” every piece of school-related data — including report cards, diplomas, and even official enrollment numbers — will reflect this non-reality. Just imagine the nightmare this will be for colleges, as admissions officers try to reconcile transcripts with different names and sexes.
As if that weren’t enough, “school dress codes must be… free of gender stereotypes and must be written, enforced, and applied equally to all students regardless of gender.” The goal, officials say, is to help “ease the trauma that can be unintentionally inflicted on girls, trans, and gender-nonconforming youth, particularly youth of color, by the uneven application and enforcement of dress codes.”
Divided sex ed into boys’ and girls’ classes also will be a thing of the past, since the city thinks “puberty education classes must be inclusive and affirming to all genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations.” And, as a part of everything, teachers and students will be expected to use language and pronouns that ignore biological realities. When it comes to sports, the College Fix points out, “generally” students must be permitted to compete “with the gender identity they assert at school.” All in all, it adds up to one of the most shocking roll outs of transgender ideology in any school district nationwide.
Like a lot of parents, New York City’s were probably unprepared for changes this extreme, this fast. In Arlington, Virginia, moms and dads learned the hard way how quickly activists can work — and Kristen Allen is hoping other communities are prepared when the threat shows up on their doorstep. “There is no roadmap for grassroots groups to follow,” she warns in a timely piece for the Daily Signal. But there are five lessons she wants every family to know as they brace themselves for impact: 1. Courage is contagious; 2. Put together a diverse coalition; 3. The gatekeepers (like the NEA, APA, AAP, and others) have failed parents; 4. Spread the truth about gender-affirming therapy; and 5. There are no opt-outs for kids.
In a culture that’s changing faster than most people can keep up, “Concerned parents are, to borrow from the musical Hamilton, ‘out-gunned, out-manned, out-numbered, out-planned,” Allen explains. “If you already are stretched in terms of time and attention, the situation can feel too big, too scary, and too inevitable.” But, she warns, “Only parents can demand accountability from school systems and set boundaries around their children. We can’t walk away.”
Learn how you can get involved by reading FRC’s pamphlet, “A Parent’s Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education.”
Originally published here.
Amazon Books: A New Chapter in Censorship?
If Amazon wants to sell books, maybe it ought to stop banning them! The company, which doesn’t mind profiting from pornography, apparently does mind offering help for sexual confusion. After pressure from a single LGBT activist, the mega-retailer has decided to pull a series of titles from authors who once identified as gay. Now, a growing chorus of Americans is pressuring Amazon to stop the censorship.
“These books have been life-saving instruments to some who have been struggling to find hope,” Ethan Martin, who used to live as a gay man, told LifeSiteNews. “In taking these resources away, Amazon has not only become hypocritical to its own values, they’ve attempted to silence a smaller minority of the population [who have] left the LGBT lifestyle.”
Making matters worse, Amazon banned the books from their catalogue when the person complaining admitted he’d never read them! FRC’s Peter Sprigg, who joined “Washington Watch” on Monday to talk about the controversy, said he couldn’t believe a company as massive as Amazon would take a single activist’s word for it.
“It’s interesting that the LGBT movement wields such power as that they are able to persuade a huge corporation — in fact, one single activist is able to persuade a huge corporation — to remove a whole set of books. I’m pretty certain that nobody at Amazon has cracked the cover of any of these books to see what’s inside. I doubt that Roho Allen himself has ever looked at any of these books to see what’s inside. And you might be surprised if he did because, the content is not the kind of extreme material that LGBT activists always associate with what they call 'conversion therapy.’”
Meanwhile, thousands of Americans are leaning on Amazon to reverse the decision, signing a petition on Change.org to end “a smear campaign” that tries to erase an entire community. “For every major issue,” the text reads, “there are two sides to each story. For one side to be bulled and censored on every platform is counter to the values we have long held in common on Amazon.”
Of course, the Left has been on the warpath for years to keep people from experiencing the freedom this kind of advice and counseling can offer. They say it doesn’t work. But if it didn’t work — transforming lives and bringing others out of bondage — extremists wouldn’t bother. They know what so many courageous men and women do: change is possible.
As Peter explains, “The fact is, there have been a number of publications [and] peer-reviewed scientific studies that have shown that this therapy can be effective. So anytime you hear an LGBT activist say there’s no research showing it works, that’s a lie. There is research showing it works, and you can find it on the FRC website…”
If that doesn’t persuade people, maybe the powerful testimonies of men and women who’ve left the lifestyle will. On the Change.org site, dozens explained how these books have helped them find their true identities and walk away from years of pain and suffering they spent living a lie.
“We who have come out of the lesbian, gay, or transgender lifestyle found the serenity and satisfaction we had desired all our lives,” Walt Heyer says gratefully. “Our lives are proof of the effectiveness of therapy for some individuals, regardless of what the detractors do to disparage or ban it… If some persons have a deep desire to rid themselves of same-sex attractions, shouldn’t they be allowed to try?”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.