Just when you thought everyone in America would support anything patriotic, here comes yet another situation that proves anything but. One teacher in St. Louis, Missouri learned this the hard way when he had the audacity to thank students for reciting the pledge of allegiance. Crazy, but true! According to Law and Crime, Jim Furkin, a 66-year-old substitute teacher at Parkway South High School watched his class say the pledge, and then gave a small thank you upon their completion to the 22 (out of 24) students that did the pledge willingly. This small gesture got him fired.
It’s most unfortunate that we want American citizens to appreciate their home, respect their land, and value their place in American society, yet we turn around and openly punish those who display pride in the very country in which they live. Furkin did not say anything that condoned, reprimanded, or verbally punished those two students who failed to participate in the pledge. He only thanked those who voluntarily said the pledge on their own. “I only said thank you very much to all of you that participated,” Furkin said in sharing his words on that fateful day. “I’m sure all of those families that lost loved ones so we could have the freedoms we have today would appreciate that too,” he continued to say. That was it. Those words were enough to seal his doom from ever teaching at the school again.
At a time that American society is bombarded with propaganda, politics, and media that continue to promote division among the American people, one would think that Furkin’s actions would be commended and viewed as the ultimate in patriot acts. Instead, his action was not only punished, but it also sent a deadly message to students regarding their own patriotism. For one, it told the two students that refused to do the pledge that they were right: there is no patriotism worthy of being celebrated or acknowledged at this current time. Second, Furkin’s firing showed the students who did participate in the pledge that their patriotism is not appreciated in the very country they were showing their respect for. It is very unfortunate that this is what we are now teaching the younger generation.
It was reported that one of the two students who refused to do the pledge felt “singled out” and “bullied” by Furkin. The student also stated that they were hurt by his comments. Rather than the school using this opportunity to teach the student something about free speech the school instead used this as an opportunity to hide from the responsibility merely, only to then punish the cause behind their fears. “Furkin had a pattern of inappropriate conduct,” said the Parkway superintended, Keith Marty. “Additionally, his comments caused disruption during class,” Marty continued. Interesting that the disruption that was punished was that of American sharing sentiments about the country in which he lives.
The comments were not damaging to anything other than one student’s pride. Too bad that student’s pride did not include the country in which he resides. Equally bad is that we now live in a society that would rather punish someone for hurting someone else’s feelings than support them for upholding national pride.