New York Principal Bans Playing Of “God Bless The USA” At School Ceremony

Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, in Coney Island is at the heart of a controversy over her decision to ban the singing of “God Bless the USA” by the students at their end of the year ceremony. While the kids have been practicing the song for months as their finale, Hawkins reportedly walked into one of their last practices and promptly forbid the singing of the song as potentially insulting to some people. Justin Beiber however is considered perfectly fine.

Teachers quote Hawkins as saying “We don’t want to offend other cultures.” What is odd is that the song has been performed at prior events at the school, including graduation. It is a popular part of the celebrations and last year reportedly received a standing ovation.

Department of Education spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti defended Hawkins and explained that she thought the lyrics were “too grown up” for 5-year-olds. Here are the lyrics:

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there’s pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

I am not sure why those lyrics are too grown up or insulting to some parents while Hawkins has allowed Justin Bieber’s song “Baby.” That song discusses how he is trying to land a girl and how “When I was 13, I had my first love; There was nobody that compared to my baby.”

Teachers have been speaking anonymously against Hawkins, including suggestions that the song was personally insulting to her faith as a Jehovah’s Witness. Hawkins does not recite the pledge of allegiance or reportedly stand for the pledge during ceremonies. She was previously reprimanded in 2010 after teachers complained that she called the school “racist” and declared: “I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming.”

We have previously seen controversies involving students told not to wear flags or engage in patriotic speech to protect the sensibilities of some parents. I disagree with those decisions. There is a difference between putting down other cultures and celebrating pride in our own nation. I hold no brief for this song, but I think the decision should be reversed.

What do you think?

Source: NY Post

60 thoughts on “New York Principal Bans Playing Of “God Bless The USA” At School Ceremony

  1. I hold no brief for this song, but I think the decision should be reversed.

    What do you think?

    It may be a scenario like the meme complex that caused the 2008-2012 credit crisis.

    An expert has published a paper diagnosing that episode in psychoanalytic terms, rather than in economic terms.

    He diagnosed the group as suffering from mania.

    Imagine walking into a doctors office, being diagnosed as manic, then told to take a course in economics as the cure.

    The point is, what is causing the epidemic of jingoism which is translating into imperialism, finally to find ourselves doing hit and runs on nations around the globe? (we have military bases, etc. in 192 nations)

    There needs to be a psychoanalysis of the psychotic behavior so an effective treatment can be formulated.

    We have more people in military marching bands than we have in the diplomatic corps of the state department working on international peace.

    Maybe if we stop singing jingoistic, nationalistic, war-rah war-rah songs that would aid in recovery?

    She may have a point, but it would work better if her method of implementation started at the School District level.

  2. Jehovah’s Witnesses and the flag salute.
    I was born into the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1957.I was the good little JW boy who got beaten up in the school yard for not saluting the flag and remaining seated for the national anthem as demanded by my defiant Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders.

    This was the better dead than red era of the 1960’s, and a kid not doing the act stood out big.
    I suffered much,only to learn that the Watchtower corporation is just another made up man-made religion.
    My JW leaders *forced* *compelled* me NOT to salute the flag,I wasn’t given any option.If I wavered I would be severely punished by my parents and struck down by God at Armageddon.
    Kids suffer because of made-up rules by Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders,senile old holy men sequestered in their insulated ivory tower.
    My point is:Jehovah’s Witnesses claim ‘neutrality’ that is false as they DO try to force their convictions on others.
    –Danny Haszard

  3. I’m not a fan of banning crap so I have mixed emotions about this act. Its wrong & she was wrong to do it – but god that song is a piece of crap from top to bottom, side to side and inside outside. Carp should file for defamation against it. As an American it is offensive and an embarrassment.

  4. Dredd’s characterization of the song as jingoistic echoes my feelings about it perfectly. The song, in its’ simplistic lyrics annoys me terribly. In the main it is inane in its usage and therefore inoffensive. However, the Principal’s banning it seems definitely to arise out of her own personal beliefs and is an uncalled for intervention. Her entire performance in her job seems to call for an examination of her fitness.

  5. May God bless and keep you always
    May your wishes all come true
    May you always do for others
    And let others do for you
    May you build a ladder to the stars
    And climb on every rung
    May you stay forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young

    May you grow up to be righteous
    May you grow up to be true
    May you always know the truth
    And see the lights surrounding you
    May you always be courageous
    Stand upright and be strong
    May you stay forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young

    May your hands always be busy
    May your feet always be swift
    May you have a strong foundation
    When the winds of changes shift
    May your heart always be joyful
    May your song always be sung
    May you stay forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young

    Copyright © 1973 by Ram’s Horn Music; renewed 2001 by Ram’s Horn Music

    At a friends son graduation from 4th grade (yes 4th grade ?) they played this song. The version from Rod Stewart. I had never really listened to the words before. In the context of watching sixty 10 yr olds up on stage, and me imagining all the Life in front of these youths, I had tears in my eyes.

  6. Danny Haszard 1, June 11, 2012 at 9:41 am

    … they DO try to force their convictions on others.
    ====================================
    They are pikers in comparison to the 1% warmongers who force their beliefs through militant imperialism on substantial portions of the whole world, against the wishes of most Americans BTW.

    That cowboy song becoming part of the propaganda engine informs about the locus of those who want John Wayne back into the foreign policy debate.

    Southern discomfort.

  7. I have a question for the attys. Is it acceptable, legally, to have people sit through “God bless the USA” in a public school setting?

    I can’t stand this song and do think it’s BS propaganda per Dredd’s disussion . However, if such BS is a matter of free speech and does not fall into the category of separation of church and state, then it stays in.

    It would be great if people would point out the BS propagandistic nature of this song to the students and have a discussion about that! Education should involve a thoughtful analysis/discussion of what we are asking children to do.

  8. Meh, another example of someone forcing their own beliefs down school children’s throat under the guise of avoiding offense. Childish, unsupportable, and stupid. It’s a simple song (easy for fourth graders to learn) and it’s pretty generic and bland. Sure it’s been used as propaganda, and it’s annoying as hell, but it’s not exactly the font of all evil. Just another red herring issue for the R. to wave around.

  9. Maybe the kids could sing this little ditty instead:

    Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore
    © John Prine

    While digesting Reader’s Digest
    In the back of a dirty book store,
    A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
    Fell out on the floor.
    Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
    Slapped it on my window shield,
    And if I could see old Betsy Ross
    I’d tell her how good I feel.

    Chorus:
    But your flag decal won’t get you
    Into Heaven any more.
    They’re already overcrowded
    From your dirty little war.
    Now Jesus don’t like killin’
    No matter what the reason’s for,
    And your flag decal won’t get you
    Into Heaven any more.

    Well, I went to the bank this morning
    And the cashier he said to me,
    “If you join the Christmas club
    We’ll give you ten of them flags for free.”
    Well, I didn’t mess around a bit
    I took him up on what he said.
    And I stuck them stickers all over my car
    And one on my wife’s forehead.

    Repeat Chorus:

    Well, I got my window shield so filled
    With flags I couldn’t see.
    So, I ran the car upside a curb
    And right into a tree.
    By the time they got a doctor down
    I was already dead.
    And I’ll never understand why the man
    Standing in the Pearly Gates said…

    “But your flag decal won’t get you
    Into Heaven any more.
    We’re already overcrowded
    From your dirty little war.
    Now Jesus don’t like killin’
    No matter what the reason’s for,
    And your flag decal won’t get you
    Into Heaven any more.”

  10. I think they should use this instead:

    The lyrics are easy to remember for the kiddies and straight to the point.

  11. I think it is fantastic for the principal to uphold the separation of church and state. Having public school children sing “God bless the USA” is a clear endorsement of a belief that “God” exists and can bless the country. Indoctrination from an early age is something that should be avoided and I am a little surprised on Prof. Turley’s opinion on this.

    While it could be argued that if any child/parent did not want to sing the song they could opt out, but as commentator “Danny Haszard” described, this type of self selected protest leads to beatings and ostracizing behavior by other students.

    A society, and individuals, can only be truly free to believe what they choose when the state does not endorse a particular belief system. Endorsing a theistic belief over non-theism violates that principle. The JW church should be commended for upholding the separation of church and state, protecting freedom of belief and protecting minority rights.

  12. David Blauw,

    From the song’s creator, which I saw him perform with The Band at Madison Square Garden in 1974.

  13. disappointed fan
    Perhaps you could give us examples – you post here soooooo often (like once)
    Go chase a nut

  14. Dredd, two thumbs up.

    BTW, I consider the use of “American” to .solely designate US citizens to be offensive.

  15. KORourke, I got so involved what I too see as jingoistic that I neglected the G-d bless part. You are right on that too. In today’s environment, jingoism would be okay and shye is wrong because she is ‘throwing G-d’ out of school.

  16. How about this version of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee..” Is it offensive?

    “My country,’ tis of thee,
    sweet land of liberty, of thee we dream;
    Land where our warriors died,
    land of the many tribes,
    from every sacred site let freedom ring!”

  17. Dreed & Danny H.

    Will pass on to some family members who are in the Jehovah Witness religion,am looking forward to their reaction to the post that you both have put up.

  18. Not my favorite song or singer but why ban any song in school that won’t disrupt the school day?

  19. The principal might have been better off banning the song as a matter of taste. That song is truly awful! No offense intended to Lee Greenwood or his fan. Its jingoistic and grammatically offensive lyrics appeal to the same low-effort thinking as the talking points of most politicians, all style and no substance. Too grown up for 5 year olds? More likely too lowbrow.

  20. Oro Lee
    BTW, I consider the use of “American” to .solely designate US citizens to be offensive.

    Two thumbs up and hat off to you.

    Even in our name we have to pee over the rest of the western hemisphere.
    I think in fairness we should be called Vespcuciians. We are 1st in many things after all some of them even good and wholesome. It is after all a Surname.
    My second suggestion is a bit more sinister, how about the name AMARYANS, It is almost a homophone and there already is a group of people here that would love the word contained within it.
    I bet Rove and Luntz could spin it. Even make it part of Romneys and Repubs convention platform!!! OH OH! they don’t read this blog, right?
    OH OH I’m hitting delete.

  21. eniobob 1, June 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Dredd

    sorry for the type error
    ====================
    No prob eniobob, I am the Dredd type. ;)

  22. I wonder why she banned it so late? One would think she would have immediately said it wasn’t allowed. Possibly threatened with a law suit – I don’t think public school students should be singing “God Bless the USA.” It’s not a bad song, but is rather alienating to nonbelievers and could easily come off as an endorsement of belief in God. Considering Lee Greenwood and the origins of the song, it could even be argued as an endorsement of Christianity. Don’t think it’s very fair to attack the principal over this, particularly without more information.

  23. IF YOU WANT TO SEE A RACIST LADY, LOOK IN THE MIRROR!!!!!
    IF YOU DON’T LOVE THIS COUNTRY AND THE OPPORTUNITY IT HAS GIVEN YOU, GO BACK TO WHEREVER THE HELL YOUR ANCESTERS CAME FROM. THIS SOCIETY HAS SOMETHING CALLED CIVIL RIGHTS WHICH APPLY TO ALL RACES. THEY INCLUDE THOSE PROTECTED BY THE 1ST AMMENDMENT. OUR’S IS A GOVERNMENT FOR BY AND OF THE PEOPLE. YOU OR ANYONE ELSE IS OFFENDED BY SONGS ABOUT OUR BELOVED COUNTRY NEED TO LEAVE. YOU SHOULD BE FIRED. I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY ANYONE LIKE YOU IS ALLOWED TO RUN A SCHOOL AND SPREAD YOUR BRAND OF RACIAL POISON WHICH CONTINUES TO PLAGUE OUR SOCIETY. YOU ARE AN INSULT TO US.

  24. I love all the songs suggested as substitutes. Truly inspired. My kind of sentiment.

    When our daughter’s elem school (that’s right, alternative) had a graduation ceremony, 35+ years ago, they sang “It’s a small World After All”. Wonderful.. I must say, it might have brought tears to my eyes.

  25. “IF YOU WANT TO SEE A RACIST LADY, LOOK IN THE MIRROR!!!!!”

    “GO BACK TO WHEREVER THE HELL YOUR ANCESTERS CAME FROM”

    Multiple irony overloads.

  26. And here I thought she was trying to keep the school secular; keep religion out of school, entirely. Noooo….this seems to be a case of one religion trying to assert superiority over another. Whatever happened to free *from* religion in what’s supposed to be a secular setting?

  27. My ideal is separation of church and state. How about “Allah bless the USA”. How about “Buda bless the USA” Religion should be priviate, not public. When songs or prayers are done in public, it shoves it down peoples throat. Did God bless America, or is he going to. Why would he bless America in the first place? Would God bless Canada, or England or Cuba? Is God bias. The song is definitely an indoctrinating tool.

  28. I am not sure why those lyrics are too grown up or insulting to some parents while Hawkins has allowed Justin Bieber’s song “Baby.” That song discusses how he is trying to land a girl and how “When I was 13, I had my first love; There was nobody that compared to my baby.”
    ================================================
    The Statue of Liberty was donated to the United States by France. Is Justin Bieber’s song better?

  29. The fact that this is a “controversy” at all, shows that a lot of folks have misplaced priorities.

    Seriously: the kids themselves aren’t demonstrating “pride in our own nation” – they’re just singing what they’ve been assigned to sing. I spent 8 years in my K-12 system choir and – in 99% of the cases – simply sang the songs my various music teachers assigned because that was what I was expected to do. The fun was in the performing – I could not have cared less about individual songs. My friends were the same. Thus, I doubt the kiddies – despite “practicing for months” are actually bent out of shape about it. Their performance isn’t being cancelled, after all. In the end, it’s simply a program change – which ought to be no big deal.

    Unfortunately, the kids are now being treated to uproar, courtesy of the adults in their lives… over a truly banal song. Way to go, role models!

    Sure, the principal’s actions were arbitrary, and based on a shaky rationale, but in the end, her decision, per se, will have a minimal impact on the welfare and education of the kids… in the end, the damage will be done by grown-ups overreacting to it.

  30. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to let it happen and not stir up the hornet’s nest?

    Bureaucrats: Always making trouble for stupid personal agendas.

  31. To some of the commenters above: LOSE THE CAPS.

    Your Flag Decal Wont Get You Into Heaven Anymore. Cited above by Elaine, is a great song. The kids should set up a choir on the street outside the event and sing whatever the hell they want. Maybe they should hmmm something during the Principal’s talk. Like Yakkity Yak, Dont Come Back.

    Maybe there should be no music, no speeches. Celebrate quiet.

  32. Of course if it was me at the annual celebration, I would bark. I would bring BitchinDog. She is an onery cuss and cusser. The word Principal when spelled with the Pal on the end does not refer to some issue but some person who is supposed to be in charge but your Pal. This principle fails the test.

  33. What KO’Rourke said! Prof. Turley, how/why in the world did you miss that whole “God” thing??!! This is a public school, remember?? I don’t care what the principal’s personal motives may/not be. She is correct in preventing public school kids from singing, during and as part of a school event, “God bless the USA.” Period.

  34. Rockola,

    I pledged allegiance to the flag everyday when I was a kid in school. I understood why. Do you want to live someplace else? If you do, move. You can take the God part out of it of you want to. That isn’t the issue.

  35. I can remember when the Eisenhower-McCarthy Republicans drove superstitious animist prayer into the public schools in the 1950s, making an already noxious little loyalty oath even more repulsive. But our teachers told us we didn’t have to recite the words if we didn’t want to. At the time, as an elementary school kid, I didn’t appreciate or understand the attempt by nameless authority to extort subservience from me by subjecting me to intense peer pressure which almost no adolescent can withstand. Although by the time the Vietnam War began to heat up and I had to register for conscription, I could see the long train of consequences ensuing from one concession to state authority after another.

    Consequently, I do not hold with forcing groups of students to recite what someone else has written for them, but rather think that each student should get to compose his or her own “pledge” to “whatever” and all the students should recite them simultaneously. For example, I would recite:

    “The Boobie Pledge of Subservience”
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-literate retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    I offer my obedience
    I pledge undying love
    To any symbol formed to serve
    The needs of those above
    Who rightly feel that I deserve
    The fist inside the glove

    I stand and mumble publicly
    With fear upon my brow
    Lest some mistake my silence for
    An insufficient vow
    Let all who see and hear me know
    How easily I cow

    Authority need never fear
    I swear I know my place
    I pledge to take the gauntlet slapped
    Across my beaten face
    The Seizure Class knows I’ll accept
    Chastisement with good grace

    About such things as freedom, I
    Have not the slightest clue
    By birth and class it’s come to THEM
    I know that it’s THEIR due
    To hand me down instructions as
    To just what I must do

    And so I promise faithfully
    To play my scripted part
    Each day I’ll chant Two Minutes’ Hate
    To finish, from the start
    Until I love BIG BROTHER from
    The bottom of my heart

    I swear to do as I am told
    I will not think too deep
    I’ll huddle in conformity
    Just like the other sheep
    To take my whipping like a slave
    And utter not a peep

    I pledge to stand up every day
    Within my schoolroom class
    And mouth my mantras on demand
    Without backtalk or sass
    Until the program makes me a
    Compliant, docile ass

    I swear upon my loyalty
    To stuff my head with fat
    And place my nation “under” “GAWD!”
    Supinely prone and flat
    With me then going “down” “beneath”
    And “lower” “under” that

    I swear to go to Sunday School
    Upon the public dime
    Each morning in my homeroom class
    I’ll mouth my dreary rhyme
    And if I leave out words
    THEY can Indict me for my crime

    I pledge and vow and promise that
    I’ll swear from dusk to dawn
    And never fail to chant or moan;
    To never blink or yawn
    And with each cry of “GAWD IZ GRATE!”
    My own soul I will pawn

    The Papal bulls and fatwas tell
    Me all I need to know
    Which isn’t much because I see
    I’ve nowhere left to go
    I swear to never set my sails
    Against the winds that blow

    The Popes, Imams, and Rabbis tell
    Me what and where and how
    The master’s overseer tells
    Me which row I must plow;
    To toady, genuflect, and crawl;
    To grovel, scrape and bow

    I’ll train to “hurry up and wait”
    And do the Bulgar drills
    To stand at rapt attention dressed
    In military frills
    Just point me and I’ll drop the bomb
    No matter whom it kills

    I pledge and promise on my word
    To do the things I ought
    To work for lower wages
    So my labor comes to naught
    I swear to vote Republicrat
    To prove I can be bought

    The Party keeps us all at war
    Which makes us quake with fear
    And so we give up all those rights
    Our ancestors held dear
    Which saves our enemies the need
    To take them from us here

    But I won’t think of bygone days
    The past I’ll just rewrite
    I’ll call my history “old news”
    To make it pat and trite
    Which sleight of mind will help me keep
    Its lessons out of sight

    With this capitulation I
    Agree to sell my pride
    Before I even own it or
    It grows too big to slide
    Into the shabby, craven cave
    Wherein I must reside

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2005

    I’ve shown you mine, fellow Crimestoppers. Now show me yours.

  36. Michael Murry 1, June 12, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I’ve shown you mine, fellow Crimestoppers. Now show me yours.
    ==================================================
    I was in the Navy from 1978 to 1982. There wasn’t a war going.
    ==================================================
    With this capitulation I
    Agree to sell my pride
    Before I even own it or
    It grows too big to slide
    Into the shabby, craven cave
    Wherein I must reside
    ========================
    I have a problem with you saying that. I would have done it.

  37. “She was previously reprimanded in 2010 after teachers complained that she called the school “racist” and declared: “I’m black. Your previous principal was white and Jewish. More of us are coming.””

    ——————————————————————————————-

    1. Her racism appalls me more than her Anti-Americanism.

    2. No one has excoriated Don McLean for those lines in ‘American Pie’, “… and the three men I admire most, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; they caught the last train for the coast, the Day the Music died…”

    3. Finally, and what “religion” is God, anyway, and what “God” did our founding fathers choose in their Declaration of Independence?

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    Signed by: John Hancock, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, et al.

  38. Each morning in public elem. school, a student was chosen to read aloud a New Testament Bible verse, although 3/4ths school jewish. I think it helped to make me an agnostic. (There were 5 kids, one for current events, one for the pledge and I forget what the other 2 for, maybe the day’s lunch offering and something else equally banal – but important to a kid)
    It made the Bible mean nothing more to me then if it was pb and j or hamburger.

  39. Too bad, lots of secular wisdom in Proverbs. But that might have offended agnostics, atheists and others of different religions, but as I said, in a secular context, who would know, but for the “thees,” “thous,” and “thines”.

    Where were you and when was this?

  40. Matt Johnson: “I pledged allegiance to the flag everyday when I was a kid in school. I understood why. Do you want to live someplace else? If you do, move. You can take the God part out of it of you want to. That isn’t the issue.”

    Hey, Matt, here in the good old USofA, the law of the land is that public school kids cannot be required to recite the pledge.
    In the case of the Greenwood song, the “God part” most certainly is the issue. Public schools have kids of all religions and no religion, and it is completely inappropriate to have them perform “God bless the USA,” for what, honestly, should be obvious reasons.
    To whoever mentioned “American Pie’s” reference to the Trinity, a song that’s played on commercial radio or performed in clubs,etc., is in no way analogous to a song sung by public school kids in school as part of a school event.

  41. @Rockola – Defeated your own argument – 1) Proud to be an American has been played on commercial radio and in countless public venues, and 2) in its 40+ years, I would bet you that “American Pie” has been sung in many, MANY public schools; either by student choirs, talent shows, or as part of literature and music classes like the ones I took in the 70s. Sorry, Sport; you can’t have it both ways.

    And as far as the Pledge went, you didn’t have to say it, you didn’t have to put your hand over your heart, but as with the national anthem, you stood out of respect and courtesy for those that took part.

    Would you sit in a public venue while another country’s anthem was being played? If you wanted to be the “ugly American,” you probably would.

    Respect and tolerance are two-way streets.

  42. Hey, Rockola,

    Piss off. I pledged allegiance because I wanted to. The ones who didn’t. They got beat up at recess. Do you know how many fights I got into at recess. It wasn’t because I wouldn’t pledge allegiance.

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