March 20, 2015 at 11:30 am

Andrew Zink is My Son

Andrew_WhiteHouseAnd today, I couldn’t be more proud.

Many of you have probably heard of the uproar in our town. It’s been covered by NBC News, the Washington Post, and the LA Times, among others. You can look it up online (or on my Facebook feed) if you want to see the news stories, watch the interviews, or listen to Andrew on the radio. Frankly I’m too tired too post links. But the short version of the story is this;

As part of National Foreign Language Week, Pine Bush High School decided they would enlist bi-lingual students to recite the pledge – a different language for every day of the week. This activity was approved by administration. Monday and Tuesday were supposed to be Spanish and Japanese, but the kids who volunteered for those recitations got nervous and decided not to take their turn. On the third day, a very brave young woman named Dana and a teacher met my son, Andrew Zink, in the office as he was preparing to do morning announcements. Andrew is Student Senate President and Senior Class President, and daily announcements are one of his responsibilities. The teacher and student asked Andrew if they could recite the pledge in Arabic instead of English for that day as part of Foreign Language Week. Andrew agreed without hesitation. Dana began reciting the pledge, and immediately students in class began booing and catcalling. At first, Andrew didn’t think it was a huge deal. He assumed some people would be angry – he knows the dynamic of our small rural town – but he didn’t think the backlash would be so great.

Following the Pledge, Dana was harassed at school, called a terrorist and told to “go back to the Middle East.” Andrew wasn’t vilified until he contacted a newspaper. This was seen as traitorous by many in the district, set in a town with deeply racist roots (it’s changing, but not quickly enough) and a history of silence about those issues (in 2012, the NY Times published an article describing systematic abuse of Jewish students and the administrator’s lack of action when confronted with that abuse, a situation that led to a lawsuit against the district and a subsequent public uproar). The anger immediately turned to Andrew for “creating an issue by telling the media” and “talking to the media to get attention.”

I guess if a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, it really DOESN’T make a sound. That was sarcasm.

Now to understand Andrew’s motives, you have to understand Andrew. This is a kid with a deep, deep passion for politics and for his country. He knows more about political history and modern politics than 99% of American adults. He has volunteered on local political campaigns and used to ask me to take him to the town’s Democratic Party (a very small minority, I might add) meetings before he could even drive. He wants to change the country, change the world. The highlight of turning eighteen for him – he could FINALLY vote. And he can’t WAIT. He has plans for a political website geared toward educating young people and making politics understandable and accessible to them. He CARES.

Because of the history in our town, and specifically the town’s tendency to shield problems from attention so that everything looks pretty from the outside, Andrew truly believed that this issue would not prompt change unless a spotlight was shone on it. Even at eighteen, he understood that to be overcome, ignorance and prejudice must first be brought into the light, and he knew from the Jewish discrimination suit that the tendency would be for everyone to pretend it hadn’t happened, to avoid talking about it and just move on.

To some degree, I understand this tendency. Unfortunately, the goals of the school district and people like Andrew, like US, are in some ways opposed. The district not only wants to keep things calm, they NEED to. Jobs depend on it, insurance depends on it. And that’s just for starters. But for students like Andrew, the goal isn’t calm. The goal is growth.

This is a complicated issue.

I don’t want to vilify the district here. I think they are in a very tough position, and I do believe the principal at Pine Bush High School cares, and that he wants to see this growth in the town. . He was damned if he did (“Why did you let a student read the Pledge in Arabic?!”) and damned if he didn’t (“Why WOUDLN’T you let a student read the Pledge in Arabic? What about diversity?!”). I understand why the principal apologized immediately following the Pledge, but I wish he hadn’t. In my view, when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, you choose to be damned on the side of right. You COMMIT and let the chips fall where they may. My grandmother would have said, “Make yourself happy. At least then you know one person is.” I will translate that here into, “Do what’s right. Whatever happens, at least you know you did what’s right.” This is how I’ve taught my children. When you’re in doubt, distill everything to one question if at all possible; What is RIGHT?

Then you do THAT. Because it’s right.

In a district that has severe prejudice (and not just against Jewish people or Muslims, but against African Americans and other ethnicities as well), the right thing here is to say, “Look, we know this is going to painful for some of you, but we’re going to support diversity in every way we can. You may not like some of it, but it’s the way it has to be for our district to move into the 21st century, and for our students to be prepared for the global society they will be entering.”

And then you stick with it.

I understand how difficult this is, especially when so much of this deeply rooted prejudice comes from parents who themselves haven’t moved into the 21st century. It’s been interesting to read the tweets coming from former Pine Bush students in support of Andrew. Most of these kids have gone onto college and now have a broader view of the world. I’m not sure some of them would have stood up for Andrew in this situation back when they lived here. But the real world isn’t like this, and they know that now. We do our kids a disservice to let them think that it is.

The saddest part to me has been the hatred and vitriol directed at Andrew and at our family, many of it from adults across the country. Things like this;

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And this;

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That is difficult to see, and difficult for Andrew to see, but whatever he may say when he’s trying to act like it’s no big deal, the hardest part for him has been going to school and seeing former friends turn their backs on him. And while many of his peers support him, others have bombarded him with tweets like these that are well into cyber-bullying territory even after he tweeted that night, “To everyone who disagrees with my decisions, I respect your right to do so and hope we can have a productive conversation. Goodnight PB.”

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Although, for a little levity, I did appreciate this;

 

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Andrew is President of Debate Club. It’s not a bad strategy.

😉

Andrew’s younger sister has not been immune and has been subjected to shouts of, “Fuck Andrew Zink!” when she walks by people in the hall (sorry for the language, it’s ugly, but so is this). I guess it’s okay to shout things like that – as long as we don’t do it in Arabic.

Is this what we do? Turn our backs on people who have a different viewpoint than us? Turn our backs on people who bring light to a situation that needs to be addressed? Is this what we teach our children? I know they’re kids, but many of them are kids we’ve nurtured since childhood, kids who have been welcomed into our home and family. I’m not going to lie; it’s really, really hard to see them publicly bash Andrew for doing what he thought was RIGHT. Because while Andrew has been the subject of these vicious attacks, many of them from ADULTS from all over the country, he has not once attacked someone personally. Instead, he’s made a point of saying that he respects everyone’s opinions and hopes a productive dialog can be had on the issue.

I can only hope the parents in our community use this as a means to discuss the merit of respectful disagreement as opposed to personal, hate-filled rhetoric. Can we keep talking about this? Can we talk to our kids reasonably, without coloring their minds with our own opinions, about why they feel the way they do? About whether those feelings are a result of reason or emotion? About what to with the negative feelings when they have them?

I hope so. I KNOW there are others here who feel the way we do, but I have to admit it sometimes feels like we’re rowing the boat alone.

On the other side, many, many people have been lovely and supportive.

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How did this happen? The truth is, I think Andrew and this issue have become a symbol for a deep-seated prejudice in our country. It’s hit a nerve, and when you hit a nerve, it hurts for a reason.

Many who have questioned Andrew’s motives in going to the media have asked why he did it. The answer, straight from his mouth, is simple; “I’m really just hoping to start a discussion about what being an American is, and what defines being an American.”

That discussion is being had now. I’m receiving emails and tweets from people who are discussing this issue at work and at home, from teachers talking about it in class. This is how change happens, not by hiding the truth in the shadows, but by shining a spotlight on it. That isn’t always comfortable to people (it has not been comfortable for us), but only then can we begin to affect change.

In the end, I can only find comfort in the words of my amazing son.

“It’s not our language that makes us American, it’s our beliefs.”

Amen, son. Amen.

<3

 

 

 

 

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88 thoughts on “Andrew Zink is My Son

  1. Bravo Andrew!!! I applaud your son for his courage and the power of his convictions. I’m so sorry your family has to go through this, but I’m glad you’re speaking up. Silence never brings solutions. Dialog does.

  2. Jodi says:

    Well done, last week I was having a discussion about Islam. I am not Muslim, but some family members are, when things turned ugly and one person threatened to stone be to death and behead me. People have so much hate and fear, very glad your son did what he did!

  3. Kellie West says:

    I love you so much right now as a parent and a mother. Bravo to you, your son, and Dana! The more people who stand up for the diversity this country was built on, the less we’ll see of intolerance, prejudice, and bigotry. I wish your son luck in his future political career, wherever it may take him!

  4. A.S. King says:

    I have no words after reading this. As the mother and wife of foreign-born Americans, one of whom speaks his native language fluently, I am saddened and yet not surprised by the reaction you’ve shown here. Racism, abuse, ignorance, intolerance. When and how will this end? I don’t know when, but I know that people like your son are the how.

  5. Queralt says:

    A few years ago I became a fan of yours because I loved the way you write. I’m from Spain, and my English was pretty bad then, but you still sent me a thank you message for following you. I thought “wow, she’s not just a great writer, she seems an amazing person.” Oh well, excuse the language, but fuck it. You are not just that: you are also a GREAT mother AND role model.
    I lived in South Korea for a year and I could honestly say I felt racism in my own skin, it was horrible but not as bad the kind of racism foreigners face every day in Spain. Now I’m back in my home country, and trying not to scream every single time an acquaintance posts racist posts in Facebook or insults a foreigner in real life. Like your son, I also stepped up against racism, and I received hate for it to the point I’m not comfortable walking around my own city.
    I would say your son did the right thing, but isn’t that obvious?
    Checking the news this morning I saw what your son did. And applaud to him and every other person who stands up against race issues. Bravo, Andrew, and bravo to you too Michelle for speaking up.

    Speaking from my Spanish point of view, we always picture America as a mix of cultures. Mostly white, but also Asians, and Afro-american people, Muslims, Europeans, etc. It’s been always my personal dream to leave Europe behind and coming to the US, I assumed they’ve got issues with racism, but weren’t as bad as they are here. I was wrong, then? The fact that your son is getting death threats over this, over doing the right thing, outrages me.

    I hope this issue will wake up the US so people will start changing their minds… if not about their opinions against “languages,” at least about their reactions. Stay strong, and again, thumbs up for what Andrew did!

  6. KM says:

    I’m really glad that some parents out there, like you, are willing to do what’s right. I hate that your son (and your family) are being criticized so harshly for something that should’ve been just a wonderful learning experience. It kind of reminds me of being a kid and my grandma telling me that she had to hide her German heritage and fluency in the language because of xenophobia like this… we are all Americans, no matter what language we speak or what we look like or what deity we do or don’t worship. Stay strong.

  7. Mike dick says:

    Down with zink

  8. Mrs. Roe says:

    First of all you, your son, the teacher and the muslim speaker of the pledge knew specifically what word angered people! You knew that word to be “allah”. The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States of America clearly says, “…one nation, under God….” NOT ALLAH. You say amen at the end of this page supporting the actions of your son. Amen as in what? Christianity?….Judaism? I don’t know of any other religion that uses “amen”. I do not for one instant believe that you think God and allah are the same. I believe you “know” that they are not the same. I knew a man from Syria for some time who said that his allah is the same as our God. According to him we Americans should just get over it already. When I told him that Allah was NOT the same as our God he got extremely outraged saying they were the same and not just that. He said their holy religion was the only true religion on earth because it was the first. I corrected him by showing him that most other religions were far older than Islam. There are at least 400 years that Judaism existed before Islam was created. When I told him that you’d have thought someone stabbed him. I showed him this in black and white. I made notations of other books it could also be found in, volume, page number, paragraph number and line number. Not one scholarly book said anything any different about the age of Judaism compared to that of islam as being at least 400 years. He was lived and stomped off. He tried countless times to tell me that his allah was the same as our God. Each and every time I reminded him this was written in all of those scholarly books and that he should consult his own religious resources and he’d find the exact same thing said there. He did. What he found there shocked him. He said that what I’d told him was true. In his entire life every Iman who’s spoken of the date for the creation of islam said that it came before the creation of Judaism, every one of them. He said they were all stiff teaching the same thing! He’d prided himself on the fact that his religion didn’t allow for any mistakes in the reproduction of their holy book or the person(s) who did this, no matter if it was a mistake, was put to death. He asked me how this could’ve happened. I said it usually begins when someone “changes” the truth and I’ll tell you the exact same thing. No one in this world can truthfully say that allah and our God are the same, not Jews, and not even muslims. I asked this man if this were true why were they avowed to kill people who shared the same god. He said they had to do this because the Jews changed God’s name from allah to God. I reminded him that for this to be possible islam would’ve had to have been created long before Judaism and according to his own religion’s resources, Judaism was created “BEFORE” islam was and there was at least a 400 year gap between them! The word allah would’ve had to be in use by his people prior to that but…..allah was the basis of their religion! If the religion didn’t exist yet then the word allah didn’t exist yet either. He thought for a few moments, screamed suddenly grabbing his head as if in great pain and ran off! He needed the pain to stop and for that to happen he had to run away from the truth that even he knew! Mrs. Zink, our God is not the same as allah who’s worshipped by muslims. They never have been the same and they never will be. This vile outrage is about this one thing Mrs. Zink. God is not allah!

    1. Wade White says:

      Mrs. Roe,

      The word “amen” is actually a Hebrew adverb that means “truly” or “surely.” Hebrew is the language in which the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament was originally written. Thus “amen” is not an English word at all, and is not used only (nor was it used first) by English speaking Christians.

      Also, the generic Hebrew word for “God” is technically “El” or “Elohim,” which as one can see is closely related to the Arabic word “Allah.”

      Side Note: in terms of language families, Hebrew is more closely related to Arabic than it is to English.

      I write all of this as an English-speaking Christian (a Baptist). I also happened to teach Introductory Hebrew at Acadia University in Wolfville Nova Scotia (Canada).

      *****

      To Andrew:

      Good for you, Andrew, for standing up and continuing to stand up for a better, more tolerant and understanding world. Know that there are many, many people standing with you. May the discussion that has been started because of your actions become an important part of the wider discussions already taking place around the world on issues of race, diversity, equality, tolerance, and respect.

      1. Richard says:

        Allah”, in Arabic, it means “The God” but In common parlance and belief Allah is very much the god of Islam. Muslims are commanded to bring the world under the slavery of Allah. To say you are one nation under Allah, you are acknowledging the supremacy of “Allah” – the god of Islam – a supremacist, totalitarian and intolerant religion.

        1. Kathy Heady says:

          I totally support what your son did. What a brave young man you have raised. He looked beyond the Pledge of Allegiance to the higher loyalty to unity and friendship among all people. I feel happy just knowing that your son, and others like him, are our future. God bless!

        2. Kathy Heady says:

          With all due respect, Richard, you are lumping all Muslims together as terrorists. This is just not true. And if you study Islam and the Koran, you will see that the goal is not to enslave the world. Learning is the key, but make sure you are learning what is true. Do you have a problem calling God “Dios?” After all, the Spanish had the Inquisition in the name of Christianity.

          1. Richard says:

            With equal respect Kathy I am not lumping all Muslims as terrorists. Have you heard of a strawman argument? It is one in which you impute me with something I have not said then proceed to beat the stuffing out of what you allege I have said.

            There is a distinction between Islam and Muslims, just as there is a distinction between Christians, most of whom are nominal, and Christianity.

            Actually I have problem with God, call him by whatever name, but that is another matter. It is when a religion or an ideology commands its believers to fight, kill and subjugate non-believers or another group, I have a problem with it. To point out that someone else also killed and murdered does not mitigate the problem.

            “if you study Islam and the Koran, you will see that the goal is not to enslave the world”.

            If you have studied the Quran then doubtless you have read verses 8:29, 9:39, 9:5-11, 9:56-57, 9:2193, 3:83 and countless Hadiths, such as Sahih Hadith Muslim 1:33 which states “The Messenger of Allah said: “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay zakat.” “, all of which directly contradict your statement.

            ” Learning is the key, but make sure you are learning what is true.”. How do I make sure what I am learning is true. Islam commands death for disbelief.

            And learning about what? Islam? Or just learning. Learning about Islam is the only learning that Islam encourages. The products of Muslim religious schools have never been noted scientists or Nobel prize winners only Jihadists and Mujahideen.

        3. Sarah says:

          Ask any Christian Arab what they refer to “God” as and they will say: “Allah”…Seriously you people are such a disgrace to America. Ignorant and bigoted!
          To Michelle, I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate your post. Very eloquently put! Now we all know why Andrew is brilliant 😉

        4. Anna says:

          It may come as something of a surprise to you, Richard, but Allah is the same being that Christians refer to as God.

    2. Kristina says:

      ‘Pope John Paul II drew from the same rhetorical well several times.

      “We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection,” he first said in a speech to Muslims in Morocco in 1985.’

      “So do Christians Muslims, and Jews, really all worship the same God?

      In two major volumes on the subject recently published by scholars from various faiths and traditions, including Volf’s, the most inclusive response from these scholars is basically: Yes, and it’s our God.”

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/01/do-christians-muslims-and-jews-worship-the-same-god/

      1. Kathy Heady says:

        Yes, of course. There is only one God, by whatever name He might be called.

    3. Samantha says:

      Mrs. Roe,

      I have a question, which is based on the assumption that your exclusionary view of religion within the pledge of allegiance is valid. (Spoiler alert: It’s not. The Goddess and her cousin Allah agree with me.)

      What alternative Arabic word should have been used instead of “Allah” for the English word “God?” You’re clearly a well-read scholar with an in-depth knowledge of the Arabic language, so please enlighten us as to alternative translations.

      1. Richard says:

        “What alternative Arabic word should have been used instead of “Allah” for the English word “God?” ”

        The Arabic word for god is Ilah.

    4. Donna Garvey says:

      Andrew do not let the small minded in our country get to you! You continue just as you are. I for one am very proud of you, my daughter is very much like you in that she is passionate and outspoken and wants to change the world for the better. My husband is from Wallkill and we plan to move back to New York next year… I can tell you Pine Bush is off the list because of this.. I will find a more liberal school district for my Lily. I wanted to comment on the post where the poster goes on and on about the use of the word Allah… I hate to rain on your Merica Parade dear, but the word Allah is simply the Arabic word for God.. and just so you know, Islam is one of the three religions that come from the God of Abraham… so the Muslims, the Jews and the Christians all worship the same god… just in different ways. I want to point out that I have a PHD in History and my field of study involves all three religions, so I know what I am talking about. I love the United States, but I am damn tired of all the small minded conservative people out there that insist they know what the founding fathers wanted and that was for Merica to be Christian and only Christian….. I am guessing that FREEDOM of RELIGION means nothing to these people.. or do you all think it means freedom as long as it is what you believe and not something else?

    5. Emily says:

      Mrs. Roe, I’m sorry but this is a very ignorant opinion you’ve shared. The God that Christians worship and the Allah that Muslims worship are indeed the same God. In fact, Jews, Muslims, and Christians all believe in the same God. If you do not believe me, you should look it up. You really should have looked it up before you shared your skewed, narrow-minded opinion, but luckily you are an American and your right to be ignorant is secure.

    6. Aimar says:

      Muslims believe in the same Abrahamic god, so Allah (The God) = God. Even if you disagree, Muslims still believe that they worship the same God, so there is no insult intended, it’s only the arabic equivalent.

    7. N says:

      Mrs Roe,
      I’d just like to say- it is a well known fact that Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God in one way or another.
      Please get your head out of your a$$ and stop being a racist bigot, thanks.

  9. Carolyn says:

    Andrew,

    It is evident from this post how proud your mother is of you, and she should be! As a mother of a high school student, I would hope that my son would make the same choice in your shoes. If the backlash was the same, my heart would ache for all he was enduring. The truth is though, my heart aches for the adults and students who are burdened with their own hatred of their fellow man. This goes beyond being “American” and has far more to do with being kind, respectful and tolerant of all humans, even those who are very different from us.

    Michelle,

    Job well done! He is a fine young man and clearly the product of a kind family.

  10. Richard says:

    Dear Mother of Andrew Zink,

    I am sorry that your son and your daughter have been abused. But let me tell you that you and your son are wrong and misguided.

    “Is this what we do? Turn our backs on people who have a different viewpoint than us? Turn our backs on people who bring light to a situation that needs to be addressed? Is this what we teach our children? ”

    You speak from ignorance and have turned rationality on it’s head.

    You speak from ignorance and have turned rationality on its head.

    Do you know the viewpoint that is different from “ours”. Do you know our viewpoint?

    “Our viewpoint” is the viewpoint of democracy. It has evolved through Plato and Socrates, the republics of Greece and Rome, Voltaire, John Mills, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and freedom of speech thought and expression. Do you know this viewpoint at all?

    It is inconspicuous but ubiquitous. It gives you and me the freedoms that we enjoy and equality under the law.

    “Their” viewpoint is the viewpoint of an ideology stuck in the middle ages that has declared truth for all time and will kill you if you disagree with it, it will kill you if you join it and then realise it is wrong and try to leave it. It is a viewpoint of empty promises of heaven and hell and death for disbelief.

    Yes do understand “their viewpoint” study it and then turn away from it in loathing and disgust. But do not mouth its philosophy in ignorance under the misplaced guise of “understanding”.

    1. Gabrielle says:

      Actually, Richard, 30 seconds of watching the news will tell you that “our” viewpoint has devolved into a scary parody of sharia law. It’s tempting to imagine and remember America as a place of rational democracy, but it’s also something that has been inconsistent (at best) in our history.

      It sounds like we’d both like to think of America as a place of rational discussion and as welcoming of many different voices. Unfortunately, we have few public/media models of either of those ideals. I view Andrew’s actions as reflecting the fundamental values of America: that everyone counts, that we stand up for people who are wronged, that we are nothing without our personal integrity.

      Finally, I appreciate that you didn’t use profanity in this post — I am horrified by what some people believe is acceptable language (especially when their Twitter handle has “Buddha” in it… someone needs to Wikipedia “Buddha,” like, yesterday.) I don’t agree with your views on this, but I do genuinely value respectful disagreement, so thanks for that.

      1. Richard says:

        Dear Gabrielle,

        I do not believe that America, or my country, (New Zealand) is perfect. But we are both democracies. We have freedoms. We can write, protest and organise against that which we think is wrong. We can speak our minds.

        I like to think that given continued freedom, education and knowledge we will evolve into better societies – incrementally change for the better. This is not possible with a totalitarian ideology like Islam, which is set in stone in medieval barbarism, with built-in violent safeguards against change.

        Many Americans resort to abuse in place of rational discussion but America is a place where one can have rational discussion. You cannot have rational discussion about Muhammad or Islam for example in any Islamic country. The punishment under the law for “blasphemy” against Muhammad, Islam or the Quran in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc is death. The punishment for ceasing to believe in Muhammad or Islam (apostasy) is death. This was commanded from the inception of Islam by Muhammad and incorporated into the Quran.

        I can give you evidence for my statements but that would make this too long. You can research them yourself. I speak from study and knowledge, not from anger, ignorance or prejudice.

        A word about “Allah”. Etymologically, in Arabic, it means “The God” but In common parlance and belief Allah is very much the god of Islam. Muslims are commanded to bring the world under the slavery of Allah. To say you are one nation under Allah, you are acknowledging the supremacy of “Allah” – the god of Islam – a supremacist, totalitarian and intolerant religion.

        Islam requires Muslims to have a victim status. This is an article of faith with them. They are taught this in their religious schools and by their parents from childhood. They believe they have been terribly wronged through history, which justifies in their minds the actual awful atrocities they carry out against non-believers. But just because they have this conviction there is no reason why we should also subscribe to their erroneous belief.

        I do believe that Muslims enjoy the same rights as non-Muslims under the law in America as they do in my country and all western democracies. In Muslims countries however, non-Muslims do not enjoy the same rights as Muslims and are in fact second class citizens under the law. Women do not enjoy the same rights as men as they do under the law in our countries. You say “we stand up for people who are wronged” – you are right. We should. But we live in one world. We should stand up for the rights denied to non-Muslims and women in Muslim countries.

        Finally I would like to say that you are not wrong in standing up for your son, or being proud of him for what he did. He did what he thought was right and that is his right and duty as an American. I just think that you are wrong in thinking what he did was right. Emotions, abuse and strong language hardens opinions. But maybe after time and emotions have died down and he reconsiders the arguments he might change his opinion.

    2. Samantha says:

      WHAT are you talking about, Richard?

      Just because someone speaks Arabic doesn’t mean they are a terrorist.

      Your entire post is predicated on that assumption. I honestly can’t believe people like you exist in the world. This is a simple concept that we teach elementary school children.

      1. Richard says:

        Samantha I have stated what I have talked about in not very complicated language. But after asking me you have wrongly concluded that I have said or assumed that if you speak Arabic it means you are a terrorist.

        I have no idea what simple concept you teach elementary school children. I trust it is not English comprehension.

      2. Rheum says:

        Samantha – you misinterpreted Richard’s comments. Actually, EVERYTHING he stated was fact. And he drew his beliefs based on those facts. Why are you critical of HIS beliefs? Allah IS the god of Islam. The god of Islam enslaves it’s followers, and preaches “death” to non-followers. The God in our Pledge is a God of love, inclusion, forgiveness, and void of hate. Allah, or the god of Islam, is NOT the same god as MY God. This is not bigotry, it is FACT! IN any event, this is the wrong time for an Arabic Pledge. It’s almost like building a mosque near Ground Zero – same potential issues. Why stoke bad feelings? Bad idea!

        1. Mathelete says:

          Actually, “Allah” does not refer to a specific deity. It is the Arabic translation of “God”.
          Arab Christians and Arab Jews will use Allah. It does not mean they are referring to the Muslim God.

          1. Richard says:

            You are right. Allah is a pre-Islamic word. Al Lah means – “The God”. He was the chief God of the Meccans adopted and redefined by Muhammad. (He originally had 3 daughters – read about the “satanic verses” removed from the Quran). Muhammad’s polytheistic origins are revealed in the Quran, where it admits inadvertently that Allah is not the only God but rather is “the best of the Gods”, in several verses of the Quran. For example 23:14 and 37:125 where it says “Allah is the best of the creators”. (If he was the best it follows there were others not quite so good as him). Many other verses says the is the best of judges, providers etc.

            But since he was adopted and redefined by Muhammad he is very much the God of Islam- an intolerant, violent and totalitarian religion. It is ironic that people rush to the defence of this religion on the basis of tolerance and multiculturalism. There is no tolerance or multiculturalism in countries where Islam rules.

            Its a bad and uninformed idea to use the phrase “One nation under Allah”. It would have been more appropriate to use the Ilah – which is the common Arabic word for God. (Remember the Muslims say there is no God but Allah – although Allah himself, who according to them wrote the Quran, says there are others only he is the best)

  11. Michelle Peltier says:

    Such an amazing kid with such an amazing mom! Kudos for speaking out and standing up for what is right.

  12. Good for your son for what he did! I am so sorry you and your family are getting so much backlash.

  13. Kristen says:

    So glad to hear about more young people standing up and saying “Yes” to inclusion and peace and “No” to hate-filled vitriol. I work in a high school and am proud to say that if something like this happened, if a student was being harassed for anything but certainly for something as simply as inclusion of multiculturalism, our entire student body would come down on those haters like a ton of bricks. Metaphorically, of course. We regularly have our morning prayer (we are a Catholic school) and our pledge said in Spanish, French, Italian and of course English since these are the language we teach as well as do student exchanges in. Last year we had a Muslim student attending our school and she did the prayer a few time in Arabic. It went well and kids thought it sounded cool. I don’t say this as a self pat on the back but as an example of hope that teens can be very warm and embrace the unknown and unfamiliar in a way the adults rarely seem to be able to do. Bravo to you son and I hope things improve for your whole town, especially for your children.

  14. Lori says:

    wow, kudos to andrew and to you for supporting him as well — i realize it’s been a very difficult situation for you but reading about andrew’s persistence and determination is incredibly uplifting! nothing can change unless one person gets things started. <3

  15. Nick says:

    Congrats on raising such a well-rounded young man. Glad to see the cesspool of Internet commenters hasn’t kept you guys down. It’s frustrating how American “patriotism” is just hypocrisy for some people, but it’s always encouraging to know that open-mindedness still exists.

  16. Daniel von Brighoff says:

    You have every reason to be proud of your son. I don’t even know him and I’m proud of him, too. The ignorant and hateful responses to his actions show just how necessary they were. Maith an fear é! (Good on him!) as we say in Irish. Tell him he has the support of language enthusiasts worldwide.

  17. Chrissie says:

    My heart is breaking for you and Andrew right now. I can’t even find the words to explain how ashamed I am to live in a country in which people try to justify such hatred and vitriol in the name of “patriotism.” Yes, there are terrorists who hate America and speak Arabic… But there are also a lot of proud Americans who speak Arabic. The language they speak is obviously not the problem! Americans speak many languages, and the insinuation that it is offensive to translate the Pledge of Allegiance into ANY language (whether it be Arabic, Chinese, German, Spanish, etc.) is nothing short of racism. Keep your chin up, mama!

    1. JoeSchmuck says:

      i would as well suggest that there are more than a few Americans who speak English (perhaps not properly, and with more than a few grammatical mistakes) who also fall into the “terrorist” grouping…

  18. Nick Bassen says:

    Ma’am you do not have permission to post my tweet. Please remove it.

    1. MichelleZink says:

      Nick, please read the following;

      “A U.S. judge ordered Twitter on Monday to release data about a user arrested at an Occupy Wall Street protest, partially on the grounds that Twitter users who tweet publicly have “no reasonable expectation of privacy.”

      “If you post a tweet, just like if you scream it out the window, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy,” wrote Judge Matthew Sciarrino in his decision.

      “There is no proprietary interest in your tweets, which you have now gifted to the world,” he added. “This is not the same as a private email, a private direct message, a private chat, or any of the other readily available ways to have a private conversation via the Internet that now exist.”

      A “reasonable expectation of privacy” is one test in U.S. law used to determine if an individual is protected from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.”

      You see, Nick, the things you post publicly do not meet the burden for “reasonable expectation of privacy.

    2. Stacey says:

      Unfortunately for you, she has as much right to publicly post it as you had to originally post it. There’s your freedom of speech you seem so intent on being hateful with used in a productive manor.

    3. Emily says:

      I find it very amusing that you did not realize your ignorant, hateful ramblings are public. That should teach you to think about what you’re saying before you go and tweet it out there.

  19. Mike Jung says:

    I took some time this morning to read about this situation and look at how Andrew Zink is responding to the people who are attempting to tear him down, and I grow more impressed by him with every thoughtful, articulate, and ethically grounded thing he says. I was already a fan of Michelle Zink and her books, and I’d say I’m a fan of her son, but you know what, he’s clearly his own formidable, admirable person. Thanks for standing tall, Andrew. You’re a credit to our nation, and an example worth following. We Americans should all aspire to live out our democratic freedoms with such strength and integrity.

  20. Shesten says:

    I live in the most conservative city in America: Mesa, Arizona. I’ve talked to at least a dozen people about this, and all of us are #TeamAndrew. It’s not about politics, religion, race, or anything except the essence of this beautiful melting pot we call home. It’s about love and inclusion and not judging the whole on a stage of the extreme. I’m so impressed, Michelle. You’ve raised an amazing young man. He’s brave and level-headed and respectful, the exact things that every mother I know hopes that their children become. Bravo, Zink fam, Bravo. Down with Zink, indeed. Everyone should be down with these peeps.

  21. JoeSchmuck says:

    “Freedom of speech implies the world isn’t defined. It is meaningful when people are allowed to see the world their way.” Ai Weiwei, 2011

    Young Mr. Zink, please keep up the good work, and continue to expand your mind to accept all possibilities. God is Allah is Gaia is Mother is Love.

  22. Samantha says:

    I grew up in a small, white town in Iowa. This means I understand hate and prejudice. I now live and work in Toronto. This means that I know how ludicrous some of the things people are saying are.

    More than half the people I work with are nonwhites. We celebrate multicultural holidays (Diwali, Hannakah) at work, alongside the Christian ones. They are patriotic, family-loving. They are polite and rude, kind and abrupt, helpful and impatient. They’re people who chose to move to a country, to integrate and bring bits of home with to stave off homesickness. And you know what? I’m one of them, since I’m an American expatriate.

    The bigotry you face is disgusting. To say that anyone not born in America isn’t a true American is ignorance beyond the pale. They chose the US, unlike the ones born there. Shame on anyone who would say these things to you. Shame on all of them.

  23. Ced Simpson says:

    To Andrew: while to foreigners the whole pledge of allegiance thing often comes across as a little strange, the hysterical reaction to your inclusive action comes across as far stranger. Kia kaha (stay strong).

  24. Matt Hoffman says:

    I can’t imagine what your son is dealing with. My own family disagrees with me but I dint care. What’s right is right. Your son is right. You are a great mother and I just wish mine had as open a mind as you. I am a 21 year old white male in southern PA, and yes your son is someone I look up to. Screw all these Americans who are against him, imagine all the Muslims, & minorities who have been waiting for a white person to step in and speak up for them. This country is predominantly white based and by that I mean everything is made to resemble white people like me. Emojis are 95% white people. Advertisements have mostly white people in them. When other countries picture an American I bet you they think of white people. And that’s why I’m glad your son is capitolaizing on his chance to change that. If this country is truly the land of the free why can’t we say one nation under Allah for 1 day and still be confident enough to know we are just sayin the Arabic translation of the word God & not actually praying the the Arabic God Allah? Yahweh is a synonym of Allah on Websters website, and I’m sure most people know who Yahweh is. I’ve said this a few times and I believe it that if they would have recited the pledge in a predominantly white European language like German or French or Italian, we wouldn’t even bat an eye at this issue. That’s the saddest thing to realize too. That right there shows how backwards this country still is, & it’s a shame. I can’t say thank you enough. Just know you will always have my support 100%.

  25. Rheum says:

    Sometimes kindness and “inclusiveness” needs to step aside for a little common sense. Many in this country are sensitive about Islam right now. It is not “hatred” to be critical of the idea of reciting our Pledge of Allegiance to “Allah”. There are so many other exercises which can be deemed “inclusive” when reciting anything in Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish or any other language. Why pick the Pledge? This IS a touchy subject – and why stoke the sensitivities of so many? Our open conversation defines us as tolerant, although many on this feed are suggesting criticism is “hateful vitriol”. We should celebrate our ability to be critical of each other without calling people “hateful”, “bigots”, “fear mongering”, “prejudiced”, etc, etc, etc. Why, if someone expresses his/her sensitivity to something another person does or says, is it automatically labelled “hatred”? Many people express their sensitivities in many ways. I could interpret Andrew Zink’s actions as hateful, too – but I won’t. They were somewhat insensitive. But it’s my right to feel that way, without labels! So many on this feed are so pretentious. The facts are as Richard above stated – Allah should NOT have been used in our Pledge. That are my thoughts, and I don’t hate anybody!

    1. Emily says:

      You just expressed your differing opinion in a not-hateful way, and I respect you for that. I think that in a high school setting though, things turn hateful very quickly. Writing all over your car’s windshield, “This is America, speak English” is rude and intolerant. Shouting “Fuck Andrew Zinkand” is hateful, is it not? I think hate and fear both come from the same ugly place within us; where I see hate, I see fear. I just think this exercise, especially going as wrong as it did, should have been used as an opportunity for this high school to teach something to these kids that will really help them throughout life: sensitivity. No one held a gun to these kids heads and forced them to say the pledge in Arabic. I keep seeing things saying they were all forced to say it in Arabic, no one was forced. They just had to listen. There will always be disagreement in life, but these kids need to learn the gravity of what they say and do and learn appropriate ways to handle disagreement. I just wish this had been used to cultivate a group of more thoughtful, compassionate, fearless high schoolers.

      1. Rheum says:

        Emily, hate and fear are NOT the same. If so, there would be no people who describe themselves as “God-fearing” when they mean “God-loving”. I do not mean to say that fear means love, but it does not mean fear, either. Why to people like you focus on people who use profanity, or who use other vulgar language. Many people express themselves in different ways. Remember the early days of George Carlin? His comedy with regards to “The seven words you can’t say on television” was about words are only a means of expression, and should not cause hurt. But, I know, words DO hurt, in many ways. I have been hurt by words – many times. Bullies on line use words to hurt all the time, and weaker individuals allow those words to drive their lives.

        Actions are more meaningful than words. Name calling is not as profound a statement than the action of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to “Allah” – that is an action. Yes, they are words, but “pledging” is an actual action. it is THAT action that offends people, and any words like those you describe can not even equate to that action.

        So everything is relative, and subject to interpretation. I believe words will only hurt if the person who IS hurt allows them to hurt. Action actually do harm…… please think about this…….

  26. Peter says:

    This article is pretty comical. As someone who has first hand knowledge to the situation, your son Andrew, “A Student” had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to allow this girl to do the pledge. This was something that was predetermined (right or wrong, not the point here) and would have happen regardless of your son’s actions. Stop trying to use political topics to make your son seem like a hero. You should stick to writing your novels and the local politics those that don’t have their own personal agendas!

    1. MichelleZink says:

      Peter –

      Andrew was THERE. He was asked. “Is it okay if Dana does the Pledge in Arabic for Natl. Foreign Language Week?” He said yes. He was THERE. Were you?

      Administration approved the request in advance, which is why Andrew has said in interviews that it probably would have happened anyway. The reason people are interviewing him isn’t just because he agreed – it’s because he’s the only one who is taking responsibility for his actions and saying he believes he did the right thing. If the school had stood by their decision, THEY would be interview too or instead, and likely many people across the country would view the district as an agent for the change we need. Instead, they backtracked, kowtowing to the most closed-minded elements of our community.

      Many of you seem to blame Andrew for the way you are being perceived. Perhaps it’s time to take some personal responsibility. Pine Bush is being perceived a certain way based on the actions of a very vocal segment of the community who refuse to accept that there are problems and instead wave their “rah rah Pine Bush” pom pons. This despite the fact that this situation isn’t the first of its kind here. If you and your peers don’t want to be seen as narrow-minded, I suggest you start by focusing on the issue at hand instead of on calling Andrew names and bullying him on Twitter. YOU can be an agent for change, too, Peter. Start now. Start today. Believe it or not, it’s not as difficult to rethink your position on something, to admit maybe you had it wrong, than it seems.

      I wish you peace and wisdom.
      <3

  27. Brin Mon says:

    Thank you for your excellent article. The hostility and anger that many people have expressed to this simple act does not reflect well on us. Moreover, many of the comments just confirm how ignorant people are – for example, Arabic is not widely spoken in Afghanistan.

  28. Jenn says:

    According to one of those ignorant tweeters, no one should speak English either since I’m sure we all know of someone (even just from a local news story) who has been killed by someone who spoke that language.

    There is nothing wrong with speaking another language. Billions of people speak a non-English language every day. They are not bad people because of it.

    I’m sorry you and your son and the rest of your family have to go through with this ridiculousness! Please stay strong in your convictions!

    <3

  29. Emily says:

    Your son is an amazing kid, wise far beyond his years. If we had more people like Andrew, maybe we would actually get things done. He is handling this wonderfully well. I’m actually from the area, though not Pine Bush specifically. I was horrified when I heard about this, largely because I truly thought this part of the hudson valley was a little more progressive than this. It pains me to know this level of bigotry exists in my own back yard. But I am inspired and encouraged by your son to keep on spreading positivity and open-mindedness. Andrew, keep your head up. This too shall pass, and if you’re lucky, some people will have changed their minds along the way. I will keep your name in the back of my mind in case you ever become a politician. I would vote for you, a like-minded kid from a few towns over, in a heartbeat!

  30. Allison says:

    Stay strong. I hope you have many more supportive voices than angry ones. Andrew was completely right to allow the pledge in Arabic. It seems that people have totally missed the point of the whole exercise in the first place.

  31. Katie says:

    It seems that many people have forgotten that America claims to differentiate itself from the rest of the world in its commitment to inclusion and free speech. We are supposedly a nation that welcomes diverse cultures to our shores. We have no official national language. How ironic that those who fear Islamic cultures due to their restriction of freedoms would yell so loudly to silence your son. Their actions are more against the values of America than the recitation of the pledge in Arabic could ever be. Of course, common sense is often lost on those who are blinded by ignorance and fear. All we can do is tune them out, reassuring ourselves that they are a dying breed whose words will serve to embarrass them long after our nation has evolved. I applaud your son, not for reciting the pledge as he did for that act should be a non-issue, but for his commitment to civic engagement. A pledge is just words. Participation in our democracy is the very definition of patriotism.

  32. kg says:

    I would have liked this, if you hadn’t used the opportunity for selling books.

    1. MichelleZink says:

      I don’t know what you mean. I didn’t mention my books in my post. This is my only blog page. I don’t have anywhere else to post at this length.

  33. Daniel Robinson says:

    Your son did the right thing.

    It’s sad that doing the right thing often comes with a price. The saying “Virtue is its own reward” isn’t quite correct. “Virtue is its only reward” is more accurate. You can’t bludgeon the people who hate with truth, for they are beyond operating in a rational world. You can only do right and hope that others understand and appreciate it.

    The arch of the moral universe is long and bends toward justice. Working toward that end requires integrity. Your son acted with integrity.

    1. MichelleZink says:

      “The arch of the moral universe is long and bends toward justice. Working toward that end requires integrity.”

      What a lovely and important thing to remember. May I quote you, Daniel?

      MZ

  34. jt says:

    Coming from someone that had to earn their citizenship and with military background in the USA I understand that your son was trying to do something for language diversity week but out of everything that could have been said in Arabic you chose the pledge? To add to that, there have been other instances of students doing this resulting in the same thing that is happening. It’s not demanded that you say it in English, but I feel like it’s something you do out of respect..When you are in military uniform regardless of what language(s) you speak, you speak English when talking to others. I think the school is more at fault for allowing your son to do when he asked for permission and even having teachers tell students they were disrespectful for not following along with the pledge, I know my two daughters will not be participating in something like that if it happens when they are older. I feel like you have an extremely biased opinion on the matter due to it being your son, as you honestly see no wrong in reciting one of the traditions of this nation in Arabic.

  35. EL Cid 1962 says:

    The right thing? You
    and your son are fools.

  36. Andrew zink sucks says:

    Andrew did this for his own fame he goes on these radio stations and contacts news reporters and is now ruining the school. He is just made all of Pine Bush look like racists and now will make all the students have a difficult time getting jobs and getting into colleges. Thanks to him we are having even more bad publicity.

    1. MichelleZink says:

      I assume you are a PB citizen but can’t verify since you choose to hide behind such an original nickname. Charming email address you’ve got there, too.

      Andrew has nothing to personally gain from being abused and vilified by you and people like you. He cares about the world he lives in and is trying to make it safe and welcoming for all. He’s stuck his neck out to affect positive change. Because of this incident and the light Andrew brought to it, people are discussing what it really means to be patriotic all over the world. What are you doing? Besides spending time attacking his character rather than addressing the issue in a positive light, that is?

  37. Julie Herman says:

    I would be proud to call Andrew my son. He made the right call, both in allowing the recitation in Arabic, and in calling the paper to spread the news that bigotry is alive and well in his community. No matter what language we recite it in, the Pledge of Allegiance is a pledge that includes all Americans. (Even idiots like the person whose online name includes Buddha, but who is obviously not feeling the Buddhist love.)

  38. James Monroe says:

    You nor your son created this “movement”. Was never his idea nor his plan. Stop acting like he is the next social activist.

  39. What a small world we live in. I learned about the story before I knew it was connected to you through your son. I’ve admired you from your writing and your posts, and now I admire your son for standing by what he did despite the trolls and the closed-minded people. We’re a nation of immigrants, which people are too quick to forget. We Americans should fee confident that our pledge’s words mean the same thing, no matter what the language.

  40. Ellen Hopkins says:

    Much love and every ounce of respect I own to Andrew, Michelle. I find the negative commentary here steeped in ignorance and hatred of others. Sad that people feel empowered by the Creator (one God) to boast hate. God loves all. Accepts all. Including Arabic speakers. And I’m very very sure the Creator is smiling down on Andrew, while wondering about those who spew hateful words in “his” name (“his” in quotes because I’m also very sure God doesn’t have a gender.).

    1. MichelleZink says:

      I believe you’re right, Ellen. And people like you who speak out so frequently on behalf of equality and diversity are role models for us all. I consider Andrew in very good company, my friend.

      MZ

  41. Juan Alejandro says:

    First of all I have to applaud him for being the person he is. He is a lot younger than I am and truly an inspiration to me. I grew up in this town and have seen all of this happen. It was easy for me growing up in this town sometimes and I was bullied for various reason throughout middle school and high school in Pine Bush. It’s nice to see someone sticking their head out for those that feel they can’t. Its amazing….

    1. MichelleZink says:

      I’m sorry you’ve felt disenfranchised here, Juan. I know many have, and I hope incidents like this one will lead to productive discussion about how we can do better by ALL our students. For what it’s worth, you always have a friend in the Zinks.

      MZ

  42. Rob Ruber says:

    Dear Madam,
    Please allow me to take you back to 1795: “Rep. William V. Murray of Maryland, who opposed translating the laws into German, countered “that it had never been the custom in England to translate the laws into Welsh or Gaelic, and yet the great bulk of the Welsh, and some hundred thousands of people in Scotland, did not understand a word of English” (Annals of Congress 4:1228-29). The House finally approved publication of current statutes, as well as future ones, in English only. The bill was agreed to by the Senate and signed by President Washington the following month.”
    http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-/faculty/debaron/essays/legend.htm
    You, as a United States Citizen, should have sworn the Pledge of Allegiance, same as all others who desire naturalization: http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/naturalization-test/naturalization-oath-allegiance-united-states-america
    The language of the current Oath – in English (!) – is found in the Code of Federal Regulations Section 337.1 and is closely based upon the statutory elements in Section 337(a) of the INA.
    As such, your suggestion, as well as your son’s action (may they have been incited by his teachers or not), to recite the oath in any other language but English, is not in accordance with the declared will of the United States.
    Furthermore, you should “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty”, same as all foreigners have to upon naturalization. If you use any other language than English, thus indirectly declaring your fidelity with a foreign sovereignty, you are declaring yourself an enemy of the state. No more, no less.
    Worse yet, declaring your fidelity with a language used by millions of people who have declared you and your family as well as all other United States citizens their sworn enemy, who have pledged to kill you and yours by any means necessary and in the fastest possible way, you are in effect subjecting yourself to their aggression and signing your own sentence. This does NOT mean that all Arabs want Americans dead, on the contrary (!), lest you believe that all Germans were Nazis, which they most certainly were not!
    Paying respect to citizens of other nations, begins by having respect for your own country and that is done by proudly reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in the language chosen in 1795 by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States of America.
    “United we stand, divided we fall.” By pressing for other languages, you are willfully deviding this great nation, which has a history to be proud of, having brought peace and freedom to so many people on earth – and I am one of those who benefited from the sacrifices your ancestors made, as they gave my family (as well as so many others) freedom from persecution.
    Let there be no mistake: respecting yourself AND your country is the foundation for being able to pay respect to others as other nation’s citizens will not respect you or your opinion, if you don’t respect your own country.
    If you and your family are unable to give the Pledge of Allegiance in English, if you can’t stand behind our troops, if you can’t feel proud of your nation, you should move to the country of your choice immediately, as you are in effect declaring yourself an enemy of the state.
    As such, from all the above, you have nothing to be proud of and I feel ashamed for you and your family.

  43. Mike dick says:

    There other ways to support diversity, not the pledge. Every LEGAL U.S. citizen is obligated to know it in ENGLISH. Zink made this competly worse espically with his Isis is taking over pinebush tweet and not supporting the cops who were killed. Claiming there would be outrage … But no way would this cause outrage. You are a fool and you are the embarrassment of pinebush. So yeah put your head down in the halls because you know everyone passing you hates you. Way to fuck it up big time “Mr.Prez”

    1. MichelleZink says:

      You are confusing issues here, Mike dick. This seems to be commonplace among those who don’t have anything productive to add to the conversation at hand. The girl who said the Pledge in Arabic DOES know it in English, and no one ever suggested the Pledge said in English should be replaced permanently by Arabic. This was a celebration of diversity, one the administration approved I might add, and your opinion that it was wrong is just that; an opinion. Just because you believe it doesn’t make it true, and while there is room for respectful disagreement, “respectful” seems to be sorely lacking here. The only reason so much attention has been focused on Andrew (something you all seem to resent) is because he is the only one involved who stood by the decision. The District chose to apologize, backing down from their initial view that it was a good idea. That’s fine. I happen to disagree with their decision, but they are entitled to have a different view from mine. In contrast, Andrew has remained steadfast in his belief that the exercise was a good one, and this is why the media has focused on him.

      And you know what’s really sad? If the District had stood by the decision, THEY would be applauded by many around the world, and Pine Bush would be credited with trying to turn the tide on their diversity problem even when that change is difficult for some to assimilate. Instead, the District chose to back down, and the media became interested in the kid who was willing to disagree. That isn’t his fault, and your efforts to paint Andrew as “fame seeking” fall flat and ring false to any reasoned person.

      Andrew will hold his head high in the halls and elsewhere because he did what he thought was right. That is all any of us can do in this life, and I feel sure he would be more compassionate toward you if the roles reversed (i.e. you did something because you felt it was right, even if he disagreed). I’m proud to know I have raised a son who is kinder than so many here have proven to be, and frankly, you grossly overstate things by saying “everyone” here hates him. We have many, many letters and shows of support that prove you wrong, although I’m sure it’s comforting to hide behind the idea that “everyone” agrees with you.

      I will give you the same advice I’ve given others who have chosen to focus on Andrew instead of the issue at hand; try to use this as an opportunity to see another point of view, and to practice respectful disagreement. Trust me when I say you will need this skill to get along in the world as it is today. I think you’re better than this. I hope I’m right.

      Much peace to you.

      MZ

  44. Debbie A-H says:

    Wow. You have raised an amazing kid. I stand with Zink.

  45. I have no words. Your son is amazing and I’m horrified that he has had to endure so much ugliness for doing such a simple, honorable thing. Hugs to you and your family. I hope we get to hear more from Andrew in the years to come. We need more leaders like him.

  46. Michael Grant says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. Your son is a great credit to you and to the USA. News of his story has now reached the UK.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/31989874
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/19/ny-school-apologises-reciting-pledge-of-allegiance-arabic

  47. Dan O. says:

    I sincerely admire Dana’s courage, and I hope the reaction does not diminish her belief that she deserves acceptance for who she is as an American, which includes her cultural, religious, and linguistic backgrounds. If any proof were required of her American credentials (they are not), proof was provided by her patriotically American assertion of the right to fully participate even while knowing that doing so would be unpopular. You can’t get more American than that. Go Dana!

    On the other hand, I am shocked that a school district would ignore its primary interest – supporting the development of its students into fully productive and participating Citizens. That is the essential purpose of public schools – to prepare our kids for private and public life.

    There is plenty of praise for Mr. Zink here. I echo it, but have nothing more to add.

  48. dave coyne says:

    Well done Andrew (although I think your mom, apparently a wonderfully understanding person, is cutting the school admin a bit too much slack).

    I don’t get it . A kid leaps at the chance to pledge her allegiance to her country, and a pack of mouth-breathers jump all over her b/c she uses the Arabic word for God?

    Good luck, both of you. Very proud of you.

  49. CZHA says:

    Congratulations! You’ve achieved every parent’s wish: to have one’s children be intelligent, compassionate, honorable, kind, fair, and gracious. They are a gift to us all.

    As a Zink family member (I’ll claim any connection possible, regardless how remote) in Oklahoma, I know too well how difficult it is to stay oriented when assaulted with hostility after one simply does what is right.

    Best of wishes to Andrew and his wonderful family. May you always be strong.

  50. Sunny G. says:

    I began at the PBCSD in the 1960s, I attended PBHS in the 1970’s and 80’s. I also went to every school in the district except PBE (which was not built yet) and CVE (I was in Middle School ) I knew kids from Pine Bush, Bloomingburg, Scotchtown, Bullville, Circleville, Fair Oaks, Walker Valley , Burlingham and Searsville.. My very first friend was black, the first black child I ever remember seeing at that point in my life. Her family and my family became fast friends. My first boyfriend at a 6th grade dance was Puerto Rican. In first grade we were taught to sing “Good Morning to You” and sang it in every language conceivable throughout the year. There were farm kids, city kids, transplants from other states.. we all got along. Here we are 30 years later and we still love and respect our old friends. We didnt have any of this stuff, we heard about the KKK being in PB during the early part of the 1900’s, eons, it seemed before we were born. I suspect George Washington trapsed through there too.. This is all hype and a part of the plan by developers from NYC who want to destroy (united we stand, divided we fall) our district. Stop sensationalizing this garbage. Your kid wants to make a name for himself.. GREAT. That’s wonderful, he seems very intelligent and blessed with a great education. But he can and should be able to do that without painting PB as such a negative, racist place. Because it’s not that – at all.

    1. MichelleZink says:

      I’m glad your experience was different than many here, Sunny. However, because you didn’t experience it doesn’t mean no one has, nor does it mean it’s not a problem here. We have received many, many emails from residents and former residents of Pine Bush, including teachers, who have witnessed bigotry firsthand. And while you may think we’re targeting Pine Bush, the main reason my son felt it was important to speak out is because he believes this is more common in small towns than people want to admit. There was no nefarious agenda here, no discussion about how we could advance this mysterious agenda that some seem so determined to assign him. This all happened very quickly. Andrew acted as he did based solely on what seemed the right thing to do at the time. That the district chose to apologize while Andrew stood his ground is part of the problem, and frankly, you aren’t really in a position to judge his agenda, given that you don’t know him at all. We have seen the bigoted attitudes of many during the time that we’ve lived here, and we’ve had many friend experience it. We’re hoping that by making this a conversation, we will begin to see improvement, because I really do think that for some, it’s so deep-seated they don’t even realize the way they behave and/or think is discriminatory.

      The development in Bloomingburg has absolutely nothing to do with this particular subject, and I think we’ll all be better served by staying on topic instead of making character assassinations toward my son or dragging other local issues into the discussion.

      Peace to you, Sunny.

      MZ

  51. Scott says:

    How do you reconcile your world view with the Islamic world view? Do you know how important sharia is to them? Would you like to live in that kind of society?

    If I’m considered a bigot because I think Islam is a scourge, then I wear that label with pride. I would much rather live in a society that makes an effort to support basic human rights, and I don’t want a single one of them trying to convert a fellow American into their cult.

    If you really were brave, you’d speak out AGAINST this virus. You think that the social disapproval your son suffered was tough? Well, he certainly wasn’t a staff member at Charlie Hebdo, or Jyllands-Posten. You see, you’ve chosen the path of weakness. Unlike those truly brave people, both of you are still breathing.

    Muslims do not tolerate infidels. Remember that.

    1. MichelleZink says:

      Your comment only highlights your ignorance. Saying “the islamic worldview” is like saying “the Christian worldview” or “the American worldview.” Which is to say, there isn’t only one. There are Christians who hate gays and bomb abortion clinics and believe they’re perfectly justified in doing so. Do they speak for all Christians? There are Americans who murder and oppress. Do they represent all Americans?

      Arabic is a language, plain and simple. It’s a language that speaks for many people all over the planet with many kinds of ideologies. You can’t logically demonize a LANGUAGE. But if it’s one thing I’ve learned in all of this (and I’ve learned more than one), it’s that facts play a very small part in the reactionary responses of Islamaphobes.

      Hatred is easy. Hatred is weak. Love is brave, and my son IS brave. He spoke his mind. He walked the walked even when it was hard. Death and martyrdom isn’t the only measure of courage. What an odd world view to believe it is! You don’t have to agree with my son’s position, and I don’t need your validation to know that he has courage. I wish you peace.

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