Saturday, 20 July 2019

Under Patriotic Pressure, Minn. City Reinstates Pledge of Allegiance

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The city council of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, has bowed to the demands of the area’s patriotic citizenry, reinstating the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of city government meetings just days after trashing the pledge in the name of “diversity.”

St. Louis Park is part of the congressional district served by radical Democratic U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim as well as a member of the Twin Cities’ extensive Somali community. In mid-June the council members voted unanimously to do away with the pledge over concern “that saying the pledge intimidates some newer residents, owing to increasing political polarization and the national controversy over federal immigration policies,” reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“In order to create a more welcoming environment to a diverse community, we are going to forgo saying the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting,” council member Tim Brausen told the paper, explaining that St. Louis Park “tends to be a very welcoming and increasingly diverse community, and we believe our citizens will understand. I don’t think we’re going to be any less welcoming by not starting our meeting out with the standard ritual.”

Brausen added that “we’ve had some racial equity initiatives going on in the city of St. Louis Park for awhile where we’re trying to get more diverse communities and historically less engaged communities to come and participate in our public process. Given the current Washington politics that are going on now, there’s a lot of people that are afraid of our government, and we worry about that.”

The new policy was set to be implemented on July 15, but overwhelming opposition from the community prompted the council to reconsider. According to the Star Tribune, on that very evening over one hundred area residents packed the city council chambers to express their displeasure at the decision to drop the pledge, which had begun St. Louis Park government meetings for decades. A similar protest had taken place the week before.

Among St. Louis Park residents at odds with dropping the pledge was Dennis Moran, who noted that “it’s always been a tradition here since I’ve been watching the City Council meetings back in the late ’80s. They’ve always done the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Likewise, David Gohman, who has called St. Louis Park home for nearly 30 years, said of the pledge: “I think it should be said every time, whether it is in school or meetings or whatever. We owe it to the country.”

Marni Hockenberg attended the meeting from nearby Roseville to tell the council that its decision to delete the pledge represented one more freedom “being taken away from us” a little at a time. “Why take that right away from other Americans who are really proud to be united and indivisible in one nation?” she asked. “I think the Pledge of Allegiance celebrates our diversity, that we’re all united.”

Even President Trump weighed in on the issue, Tweeting on July 11 that “the Pledge of Allegiance to our great Country, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, is under siege. That is why I am going to win the Great State of Minnesota in the 2020 Election. People are sick and tired of this stupidity and disloyalty to our wonderful USA!”

In the end the city council threw in the towel and reinstated the pledge, not because of any strong convictions they had on the matter, but because the issue had taken its toll on them personally. Reported the Star Tribune: “The pledge was not scheduled to be discussed Monday night, but Council Member Thom Miller made a motion to reinstate it because the city has been inundated with e-mails and phone calls, some that Miller believed endangered city staff and residents. ‘There are many from outside of St. Louis Park who are abusing and harassing our city staff, making it very difficult for them to serve the residents and businesses in our city, which is the very reason our local government exists,’ he said at the meeting. A short time later, council members voted 7-0 to reinstate the pledge.”

Apparently, only one solitary council member bothered to apologize for dropping the pledge in the first place. According to Fox News, Councilman Steve Hallifan conceded that he had been wrong in voting to drop the patriotic observance. “I’ve concluded that I made a mistake and I’m sorry,” he told the assembled citizens at the July 15 meeting — “and I’m asking for forgiveness.”

Photo: YinYang/E+/Getty Images

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