The principal of a Boston-area high school commemorated the twelfth anniversary of 9/11 by reading a poem about Muslims to the school, while the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t recited. According to a spokesman for the school, Concord-Carlisle High School, the student who was supposed to recite the pledge was busy with an internship, and it was never said as it usually is each morning. The poem was read later in the day as part of the 9/11 remembrances.
One school-committee member stood up for the principal, telling the Boston Herald he was “disappointed” at the community’s outrage, and felt the poem was a worthwhile ”attempt to offer young people a glimpse of what binds us together as people.” ”This was an attack carried out by extremists, not by a religious group that is as peace-loving and valued [a] member of our community, our culture, and our world as any other,” he said.
“We had the well-being of students at the forefront of our thinking when we chose to acknowledge 9/11 by reading a poem that focused on cross-cultural understanding rather than unsettling words and images associated with the event,” the principal said later. He apologized for the oversight regarding the Pledge.
The poem, “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears,” discusses the cultural issues confronting the speaker’s grandmother, who had to wash her feet for the Islamic ritual of wudu in a bathroom sink at her department store job because she misses her mandatory prayer time. The poem mentions America several times, not particularely favorably. One bit: “If you Americans knew anything / about civilization and cleanliness / you’d make wider washbins.”