To the Editor

November 6, 2012

By Contributor

Pledge of Allegiance

An affirmation to unity is needed now more than ever

I found Matthew Barry’s letter to the editor in the Oct. 31 edition of The Issaquah Press to be rather confusing.

His complaint was that the Issaquah Candidate Forum opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, his point being that it was rude to atheists, even though he said that the words “under God” had been omitted. I’m not clear about what it is that he found so offensive. If it wasn’t God, was it the affirmation of unity and liberty?

He supports his complaint with the notion that 5.7 percent of folks (his number) should dictate to the remaining 94.3 percent. Minorities’ opinions should certainly be respected, but so should those of the great majority. I support and defend Mr. Barry’s freedom of speech, and I’m happy to see his freedom manifested in his published letter, but if our Pledge of Allegiance offends someone, I would have to say that I will stand up for their right to be offended.

We have big problems in this country. We have national debt that has spiraled completely out of control; we have global terror on the rise, with our embassies being attacked and Americans being killed; we have global economic recession with leaders apparently impotent to help; and we have division and polarization amongst ourselves that I’ve never seen before in my lifetime, not even during the contentious times of Vietnam and Watergate.

We need to come together and realize we’re all in the same boat and our Pledge of Allegiance is intended to foster that unity, not further divide us.

Mike Harrington


Join the All in For Kids Annual Fund Campaign

The Issaquah Schools Foundation is in the middle of its All in For Kids Annual Fund Campaign. This campaign is directed to everyone within the sound of my voice…and it means what it says: This is the time for everyone to jump in at some level to support the work of the foundation to bring much-needed additional resources into our schools so that all of our students have a pathway to success.

You’ve heard all this before, but it nevertheless remains painfully and stubbornly true: the state of Washington underfunds our schools, and for a variety of historical reasons, the Issaquah School District is among the most underfunded. Lucky, then, that we live in a community that values education so much and has the resources to fill in the gaps when the public system falls short.

The foundation provides a direct pipeline of resources from you — parents, community members, local businesses — to our classrooms, working in partnership with the school district to target priority needs with programs that have the best return on investment. As examples, the foundation right now is funding STEM programs (e.g., robotics, computer programming classes taught by Microsoft professionals, new science curriculum) at all levels of our school district, pre-K summer school for targeted at-risk populations, financial literacy curriculum for all eighth-graders, mentoring at all levels, fine arts funding at middle and high schools, and targeted academic intervention programs at all levels. These are just a handful of the investments the foundation makes in our schools, and none of them would be possible without widespread community support. That’s where each of you has a role to play.

Making a donation to the foundation now as part of its All in For Kids campaign is one of the easiest ways to have a big impact on our schools because of the strength in numbers. Go to the foundation website. Make a donation today. Whether it’s $5, $50, or $500, your impact will be that much greater because you were all in.

Leigh Stokes, immediate past president

Issaquah Schools Foundation

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One Response to “To the Editor”

  1. Matthew Barry on November 9th, 2012 5:24 am

    Mike Harrington was confused that I would criticize opening a candidate forum with the 1954 “under God” version of the pledge of allegiance while also applauding one individual for not saying those two words. I don’t see any inconsistency.

    Perhaps Harrington mistakenly thought I meant that everyone in the room recited the original 1892 version, which didn’t contain “under God.” No. Like at Issaquah city council and school board meetings, everyone was asked to stand and recite the theistic 1954 version. One delightfully rebellious person (who happened to have the microphone) chose not to drone those two inappropriate words along with everyone else, and I thought it was worth mentioning that delightful fact.

    Given that information, perhaps the forum organizer (Issaquah Press) will realize that some citizens, including one of the fine upstanding folks who helped sponsor the forum, are offended by the “under God” version of the pledge. Perhaps they’ll realize that they can successfully conduct future forums without the pledge, like they did in 2011.

    Asking atheists to state that they’re “under God” is as offensive as asking Jews and other non-Christians to state that they’re “under Jesus.” Given Harrington’s position that the majority trumps minority rights, I have a feeling he wouldn’t mind requiring “under Jesus,” either. If Jews are offended, Harrington will “stand up for their right to be offended.” What a guy!

    This who-cares-if-you’re-offended gentleman then had the gall to tell us that “we need to come together.” Hello? He finished his letter by making the Orwellian claim that the pledge unites us. Well, the original 1892 version, which made no distinction (division) between theistic and atheistic Americans, united us during World War I and World War II. But the 1954 version divides us. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

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