The wonderful thing about the Total News Environment is that you can come home pissed off about something, but feeling that it would be indiscreet to bitch about it, and be able to read about someone of whom it's entirely permissible to complain because he's made himself, however temporarily, a Public Figure. Today's victim is Patrick Linton, a 15-year-old ninth grader in Maryland, who refuses to attend class during National Foreign Language Week because part of his school's program is to read the Pledge of Allegiance in various ... foreign languages. "This is America, and we got soldiers at war," he said. "When you're saying the Pledge in a different language which nobody understands, that's not OK." Indeed, Linton's main problem with the translated Pledge seems to be that he cannot understand it in another language and doesn't wish to do so.
But the Pledge was recited in another language - French, as he later discovered. "I looked around, and I was like, 'What's going on?" Patrick said. Afterward, Patrick said, some of his classmates said it wasn't right. "We're at war right now, and our schools are supposed to be patriotic," he said.Why languages other than English are inherently unfit for wartime is not quite clear; after all, some U.S. soldiers speak them. Presumably Linton would not consider Min Soo Choi and Jeungjin Na Kim (Korean), Diego Rincon (Colombian) or Joseph Menusa (Filipino) -- all killed in Iraq and granted posthumous citizenship -- to be unpatriotic. And what would young Linton make of this? The event was advertised with "If you don't understand Spanish, don't worry-- he will give a full explanation of his views in English, and then answer questions in Spanish and English. If you know a little Spanish, you must come as a commitment to multi-lingual aspirations of the Columbia Law School."