Bender: School board tied in Pledge of Allegiance knot

The Fargo school board added the Pledge of Allegiance, and then rescinded it, and a predictable furor ensued. The board then compounded their “unforced error” by surrendering to intimidation and reinstating the pledge, with a 7-1 vote. A hard lesson hopefully learned.

Fargo School Board member Nyamal Dei shares comments about the backlash that has been received about whether the board should allow for reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Fargo.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
We are part of The Trust Project.

Last week, the Fargo school board made its biggest mistake since the one it made a week earlier when board members stopped reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before their meetings.

The furor was foreseeable, red meat for zealots who've carjacked what used to be the Republican Party. The board then compounded their “unforced error,” as columnist Mike McFeely astutely called it, surrendering to intimidation and reinstating the pledge, with a 7-1 vote.

I viewed the board's original decision as ironic posturing against what many feel is religious, nationalistic posturing. Or indoctrination. A letter writer called it a miracle that conservative Rob Port and I agreed on the issue . Geez, it's like “Freaky Friday” around here. Predictable as the sun rising in the east and flies flocking to manure, though, one hyperventilating patriot warned that godless (redundant?) libs might soon ban the flag.

Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh my!

Thank you, Dorothy.


As big and small-time talk show yappers and politicians poured lower-priced gasoline onto the fire, I wondered what Sun Tzu would've said about the board's original stumble. This: “He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” However, I don't need Sun Tzu to tell me that once the fight's on, for whatever reason, you don't surrender to bullies. It emboldens them.

Nyamal Dei, a South Sudanese refugee, a face of diversity in Fargo, was right with her lonely, brave vote against capitulation. Consider her background, her harrowing escape from her nation's violence. “We almost got killed,” she recounted. “My uncle had a Bible in his backpack. Somebody shot him. The shot went into the Bible but it didn't go through. He would have been gone (dead) right away.”

Ugly, vicious, profane and racist emails and phone calls, from all parts of the country, have been sent to Fargo School Board members following the board's decision to drop the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings

Divine intervention? But, apparently she's the godless one.

Jim Shaw reported the threats she received. “'Why don’t you go back to f------ Africa, you f------ (N-word).' “Another caller said, 'Should have figured a Black mother f----- wouldn’t vote for the Pledge of Allegiance before school. Listen jackass … If you don’t like the Pledge of Allegiance because it hurts your little Black feelings, ah. You’re a c---. F------ fascist. F------ Nazi. Now you’re marked.'”

From the frying pan into the fire. From South Sudan to a United States that's become increasingly unrecognizable. Or eerily familiar if you've actually studied 1930's European fascist history.

Welcome to America, Nyamal.

With liberty and justice for all.

Although the pledge was just instituted in April, a political tripwire placed by a former board member, posturing opportunists pretended that this somehow affected traditional classroom recitation of the pledge. It didn't.


Yankee Doodle Dandy Doug Burgum, eager to boost flaccid support from party extremists, prescribed flag pole Viagra. (Cue fife and drums. And banjo.) “America is the land of opportunity ... students in every public school … along with elected governing bodies and those who attend their meetings, should have the opportunity to recite the Pledge … and express support for the American ideals upon which our country was founded.” Snore.

Translation: Legislated patriotism.

Hint: A smaller flag makes your pole look bigger.

I doubt Sun Tzu said it, but the mantra of the boot heel-clicking arm of Das Party as it pertains to their low-information brownshirts is “Keep 'em scared, dumb, and angry.” Mission accomplished. Bully.

As for the Fargo school board, a hard lesson hopefully learned.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.

Opinion by Tony Bender
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column from North Dakota for Forum News Service.
What to read next
Columnist Jim Shaw offers critical remarks after North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer voted against the Respect for Marriage Act. "Hoeven and Cramer are using religion as a cover to justify bigotry and discrimination," Shaw writes. "History will not be on their side."
Columnist Scott Hennen takes time to be thankful for the local community's generosity.
Columnist Joan Brickner writes shares her experience with the Lunch Bunch, a group of volunteers who make and assemble meals for those in need year round.
InForum columnist Mike Hulett recalls the many ways he and his family took care of the planet when he was a child. "Our friends and neighbors lived pretty much like we did," Hulett writes. "Many still do."