A month ago, the city council for St. Louis Park decided to end the practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its meetings to be more “inclusive.” After getting an earful from locals as well as national figures, the council reversed itself last night. In a unanimous vote on an unscheduled motion, city councilors decided that the Pledge was pretty darned inclusive after all.
Or perhaps it was more of an admission that they should have been focused on more substantial matters all along:
The pledge was not scheduled to be discussed Monday night, but Council Member Thom Miller made a motion to reinstate it because the city has been inundated with e-mails and phone calls, some that Miller believed endangered city staff and residents.
“There are many from outside of St. Louis Park who are abusing and harassing our city staff, making it very difficult for them to serve the residents and businesses in our city, which is the very reason our local government exists,” he said at the meeting.
A short time later, council members voted 7-0 to reinstate the pledge.
There were protesters present supporting the council’s earlier decision, some holding signs saying “You are welcome here,” according to the Star Tribune. Councilor Kirsten Brekke Albright said that the protest against the initial decision “saddens” her because it came from “mindless, but very effective, agitators and organizers.” Still, she threw in for repealing the earlier decision because she wanted to get back to work.
That prompts the question: why did the council go out of its way to take the action in the first place? If Albright wanted to focus on work a month ago instead of symbolic nonsense, St. Louis Park would never have ended up in the national spotlight in the first place. Albright and the council wanted to make a public spectacle with their virtue signaling by banning the pledge. Now they’re shocked, shocked to find that when elected officials grandstand, people not only notice but feel empowered to respond. Talk about mindless.
The lament about national reaction wasn’t false, though. Even Donald Trump weighed in on it a couple of times on Twitter:
It was a dumb fight for the St. Louis Park city council to pick, and not just because of Trump’s criticisms. At least some of their constituents didn’t appreciate the council’s implications either, regardless of the “agitators and organizers.” One woman wanted to know what exactly wasn’t welcoming and inclusive in the Pledge?
Marni Hockenberg of Roseville said the protesters believe the council’s initial decision was another freedom “being taken away from us bit by bit.”
“Why take that right away from other Americans who are really proud to be united and indivisible in one nation?” she said. “I think the Pledge of Allegiance celebrates our diversity, that we’re all united.”
Want to bet that none of the councilors ever answer that question — at least not in public? The Star Tribune reports that most of the people in the room agreed with Hockenberg, not the council — and so did the “large overflow crowd” standing in the hallway outside. One suspects that the next city council election in St. Louis Park will be a livelier affair than usual.
Although, perhaps not. As I explained to a friend who asked me about the initial decision last month, “Forget it, man … it’s MN-05 Town.” I’m delighted to have underestimated the people of this CD. For a shining moment, even Rep. Ilhan Omar’s district managed to generate some popular support for symbolic shows of patriotism and inclusion. For Albright and the rest of the St. Louis Park city council, this Captain Louis Renault award is for you.