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Port: One culture warrior isn't any better than the other

What is the culture war if not a pitched battle to impose one group's preferred culture on others, without much effort invested in trying to find compromise and accord? I don't care which side of that fight you're on; if you're in it, you're part of the problem.

Fargo School Board member Seth Holden, left, declines to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance with the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Color Guard at the Tuesday, April 12, 2022, meeting. The board will no longer recite the verse after it rescinded the motion on Tuesday, Aug. 9, voting in favor of removing it.Michael Vosburg/The Forum
Fargo School Board member Seth Holden, left, declines to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance with the Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps Color Guard at the Tuesday, April 12, 2022, meeting. The board will no longer recite the verse after it rescinded the motion on Tuesday, Aug. 9, voting in favor of removing it.
Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — While observing, during my recent time off, the eruption of public opinion over the decision by the Fargo School Board to cease reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings, I found myself feeling much the same way as Randall Wehler, who wrote, in a letter to the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, that he felt dismay over the decision.

In making his argument, Wehler juxtaposed to recent headlines. First the one about the school board taking up their anti-Pledge position. Second, the one about newly minted U.S. citizens reciting the Pledge at a local baseball game .

"In reading these stories, I felt a sense of disconnection," Wehler wrote .

Me too, friend.

There is a popular movement in America to deride our nation. To portray it as being founded by evil men seeking evil outcomes. To hear some tell it, America's history can only be seen through the lens of injustice.

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There are many injustices for which our nation is culpable, but that's no justification for myopia.

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The school board used as their justification an argument about the "under God" bit and, while I'm sympathetic as a practical matter, being an atheist and all, I'm left wondering if this is really an important enough issue for the board to pick a fight over.

I like to say the Pledge. When I get to the "under God" part, I perpetrate an elision while bearing no ill will toward those who say the whole thing.

And I move on with my life.

Am I the only one tired of the culture warriors?

To be sure, the school board members who voted against the pledge are culture warriors, and though I'm certain they imagine themselves to be elevated, intellectually and socially, from those who oppose themselves on this issue, they're really no better than the mouth-breathing Trump supporters who wrap themselves in the flag and deride dissenters as "communists" and "cucks."

What is the culture war if not a pitched battle to impose one group's preferred culture on others, without much effort invested in trying to find compromise and accord?

I don't care which side of that fight you're on; if you're in it, you're part of the problem.

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I'm less bothered by the fact that the board took this action than I am by the fact that these elected officials are using their offices to promote culture war.

The school board acted because they wanted to make headlines. Their decision did nothing to enhance education in Fargo. The taxpayers and students will not be served better because the school board act against the Pledge of Allegiance. If anything, the board harmed the school district by igniting a pointless controversy over something that, in the context of budgets and textbooks and curricula, matters not a bit.

When these tea-pot tempests erupt, we are asked by social media, and media commentators, to pick a side. Are you for or against?

There's a third choice called "stop fooling around get to work." Would that more of us availed ourselves of that option.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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