Racism alive and well (and affecting education) in Alabama.

In Daphne, AL the local high school had its French teacher retire.  Fortunately for them they had a teacher who used to be a University professor in Arabic, so they decided to offer a course in the language.

Little did they know that by teaching their kids a particular foreign language that the administration of Daphne High School were advancing Islam and terrorism.

“This is America, and English is our language, and while I understand the alleged premise of offering Arabic at our high school, I don’t agree with it,” said Michael Rife, who lives in Daphne. “It is not just another language; it is a language of a religion of hate. I’m concerned about our taxpayer dollars going to fund such a program, because I don’t believe it has a lot of foundational value.

“It just concerns me that we’re headed down a path of further eroding our society to a Muslim-based society, or Sharia law (the moral code of Islam), and I’m not willing to let that happen without … something to say about it.”

Yes, and because terrible ideas have been expressed in English in the past, we should also bar that language too, I guess.

Pyritz was also disturbed, he said, after meeting with Baldwin school officials to voice his concerns and learning of plans to expand Arabic and other language course offerings in Daphne’s elementary and middle schools.

“They’re trying to indoctrinate our children with this culture that has failed,” he said. “…Why should we want to teach our kids a failed culture when we have a culture that has been successful? All we have to do is follow our Christian culture, which has brought this nation to the pinnacle of success. … I don’t see why they would want to teach this.”

Do these people think that every kid who takes French develops a taste for wine or that every student who takes Spanish inevitably starts Flamenco dancing?  Learning about a culture has zero to do with endorsing the culture.  And a language only means you can communicate with certain people, it doesn’t make you adopt any behavioral practices.

Nope, these parents would have their children stay just like them: ignorant of other cultures.  And even though they’re ignorant of other cultures, they know those cultures are full-to-bursting with evil of all sorts.  Call it faith.

Thankfully the Superintendent is having none of this shit:

Alan Lee, superintendent of the Baldwin County school system, said Daphne High, with an enrollment of about 1,400, includes students from 30 countries, and that offering Arabic is one of many ways that the school keeps an international focus and helps its graduates prepare for the global economy.

“If you look at the languages of the world, Arabic certainly would be one of the languages that I would want my own child to learn, because of the opportunities it would provide” in terms of careers and paths of study, Lee said.

Daphne High School strives to provide its students with an understanding of different cultures and societies, Lee said. “We’re proud of the school,” he said, adding that he hopes the Baldwin County school system will soon be able to offer a plethora of foreign language opportunities for children from kindergarten on up.

“I’m very excited about that,” Lee said. “I’m sure many parents will want their children to learn Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese or Arabic.”

Well done, Mr. Lee.  Way to do what you can to save your students from the god (and brown people) fearing folk of Alabama.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • RhubarbTheBear

    The numerals thing has worked out pretty well so far…

    • Loqi

      Algebra is the math of hate. Any culture that solves for x is a failed culture. Why would we want to teach algebra when we have our superior fundamentalist Christian culture in which nobody knows math?

      • Zinc Avenger

        I’d comment, but I’m too busy trying to multiply XVII by XXXXII.

        • DesertSun59

          Thank you for that. You ALL win the Internets for the day.

        • Andrew Flick

          I think you mean XLII?

          • Budbear


      • Kavita Batra

        I agree! Math and Science breed hate. All those numbers are secretly (if you read them up-side-down) are Anti Christ messages. buahahahaha

    • Beatrice Goutfer

      Contrary to general belief, the so-called “Arabic” numerals stem from India, so much so that even the Arabs call them Indian Numerals.

      But apart from this as a French person, I am horrified that anyone would replace a French teacher by an Arabic one.

      • martaz

        Ms Beatrice: You are quite dogmatic. There is quite a bit of disagreement on your point that Arabic numerals are “really” Indian numerals.

        “….. The numerals in their current form developed from Arabic letters in the western regions of the Arab World. THE CURRENT FORM OF THE NUMERALS developed in North Africa, DISTINCT IN FORM FROM THE INDIAN AND EASTERN ARABIC NUMERALS. It was in the North African city of Bejaia that the Italian scholar Fibonacci first encountered the numerals; his work was crucial in making them known throughout Europe …..”

        From: On the Origin of Arabic Numerals – A. Boucenna – Université Ferhat Abbas Setif (French)

        (The caps are mine)

        • F Zanchi

          The reason the digits are more commonly known as “Arabic numerals” in Europe and the Americas is that they were introduced to Europe in the 10th century by Arabic-speakers of North Africa, who were then using the digits from Libya to Morocco. Arabs, on the other hand, call the system “Hindu numerals”, referring to their origin in India. This is not to be confused with what the Arabs call the “Hindi numerals”, namely the Eastern Arabic numerals (٠‎ – ١‎ – ٢‎ – ٣‎ – ٤‎ – ٥‎ – ٦‎ – ٧‎ – ٨‎ – ٩‎) used in the Middle East, or any of the numerals currently used inIndian languages (e.g. Devanagari: ०.१.२.३.४.५.६.७.८.९).

          - Same source.

          The numerals are so foreign to Arabic language that they are written and read left-to-right. If you encounter numerals when reading Arabic text, you have to stop your reading right-to-left, fast-forward to the “end” of the number or formula, read it left-to-right and then jump ahead again to restart your text. This is a clear indication that the entire numeric system was imported into Arabic, not just the numerals. And it was Persian mathematicians who did it.

          Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (Arabic: عَبْدَالله مُحَمَّد بِن مُوسَى اَلْخْوَارِزْمِي‎), earlier transliterated as Algoritmi or Algaurizin, (c. 780, Khwārizm – c. 850) was a Persian mathematician,astronomer and geographer.

          - Same source

      • Radu Caprescu

        Don’t be “horrified”. French is just another language, just as Arabic is, just as Mandarin Chinese or Japanese. Any language you learn, and try to understand its intricacies and grammar and its literature is food for your brain, as long as you realize it and commit to learning the language.

    • Pabs

      The numerals were invented by the Hindus.

    • Pitch Control

      Except of course, the Arabs “Borrowed” the numeral system from India.


  • Loqi

    It must be stressful to have to be on guard at all times against the Sharia law that is just around every corner. I’m glad to be on the side of the Muslim-communist-fascist-one-world-government-satanic-secularist conspiracy, because I don’t think I have the resolve needed to fight against it day and night.

    • David Manhart

      Easy for you to say.. You aren’t gay and put to death by muslims.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shawn.schaitel Shawn Schaitel

      your delusions are as bad as Hitler’s his same beliefs about the jews

      • martaz

        I think perhaps Loqi is joking?
        P.S. I’ve looked at his/her other posts and they are also tongue in cheek.

      • Fullerene

        Shawn, you are refractory to sarcasm, and your invocation of Hitler (followed by spelling “Jews” with a lower-case “J”) is an immediate loser).

  • aoscott

    What fools. What do they think of our military personnel that speak Arabic? Learning it is the best thing that could happen to these poor fools. They need to learn something about the culture of which they are so terrified.

  • Stev84

    Just tell him that speaking Arabic will help his children kill those evil Muslims because the military is looking for Arabic speakers.

    • Michael Spagnuolo

      I’d phrase it more like better to better know your enemies & your Arabic speaking friends.

      • Tssha

        Remember, we’re dealing with the Republican base here. That line might wind up sounding too liberal, hence forcing them to shut down their brains and argue against it without thinking.

  • Loren Petrich

    This reminds me of the joke about someone who objected to teaching foreign languages because “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it is good enough for me.”

    • Rasmus Bjersander

      That sound like something an American could say nowdays.. it probably true somewere.

      • Tom

        That’s the punch-line, Rasmus, certain western people say it allllll the time.

        • Mat Bakus

          I can’t find the reference, but did you guys see the US Politician who thought that Stephen Hawking was American because his artificial voice had an American accent?

          • Radu Caprescu

            That sounds like a joke in a comedy film, Please, really, is anyone that stupid? :D

          • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

            It was worse than that. It was in the context of insulting (and lying about) British healthcare. They said that if Stephen Hawking had been British he would be dead.


          • Kavita Batra

            no no no…I can’t stop laughing! Or should I be crying at home bred ignorance?

    • Dan Perlman
    • Kavita Batra

      Laughing so hard!! Thank you for this.

  • stop2wonder

    “This is America, and English is our language, and while I understand the alleged premise of offering Arabic at our high school, I don’t agree with it,”

    Saying that the US is an English Nation is just as erroneous as saying we are a Christian Nation . Yes, we are a Nation with an English speaking Christian majority, but that’s not the same thing.

    The US doesn’t have, and has never had, an official language. Any attempt to say otherwise is either a lie or a badly misinformed opinion.

    • Christine

      The US doesn’t have an official language? So if the government wanted to print official documents in Greek and in no other language they could get away with it? (Legally speaking – I know it would rightfully be political suicide.)

      • islandbrewer

        It would not break any laws, no. It would be pointless and wasteful, and those responsible would likely lose their jobs for engaging in such nonsense, but there’s no federal law or regulation that states documents must be in English.

        • Spuddie

          Its encouraged as to inform immigrants of various rights in certain situations.

      • Spuddie

        In many ethnic neighborhoods they print official documents in various languages so people can understand their rights under certain situations. Such as government benefits and voting.

        Even someone who learns English here as an immigrant can’t necessarily be reasonably expected to understand it at a native speaker level.

        • Christine

          Multiple languages I get. But here in Canada, while most things are available in a bunch of languages, they *must* make English and French available (federally. Except for New Brunswick, provinces are unilingual).

          • Tssha

            Actually, I think Ontario is becoming officially bilingual. I know for a fact they’re really pushing the line that government services (and services offered by NGOs) should be offered in French for native speakers, and that it should be offered right off the bat, that waiting for them to ask to be served in French is insufficient.

            So if it’s not official now, it probably soon will be.

          • James Buchy

            Manitoba is officially bilingual too.

      • DesertSun59

        Wow. You really need to get out. Here in Chicago, we have signs in (OMG) Spanish, Tagolog and even Russian in some places!!!

        • Christine

          Around here signs in other languages always include English too (or have English signs beside them.)

        • martaz

          Here in LA: Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) Armenian, Hebrew, Russian and Japanese
          (probably more, but that’s the ones I’ve seen)

          I LOVE it.

        • islandbrewer

          In this little corner of the San Francisco Bay Area, my son’s school prints things in Spanish, Mandarin , Tagolog, Vietnamese, Urdu, Amharic, Farsi, and Serbian. And there’s been a request for Mongolian, too (but it’s only two families).

          Voter guides are printed by our county in 18 different languages (available on request).

      • stop2wonder

        Well, Yeah. It might not be wise to do so, but there is certainly nothing illegal about it.

      • MarkTemporis

        If the right-wing had imagination and a cruel sense of humour, their next voter suppression strategy would be enacting Klingon or Quenya-only ballots in certain ethnic neighborhoods.

    • Diane Phillipa

      I thought more people spoke Spanish in the US rather than English.

    • Jason Neal

      A working knowledge of the English language is a requirement for citizenship in the U.S. I’m not saying they enforce that rule, but it is a rule.

      • stop2wonder

        Wow, you’re right, I just looked it up on the Naturalization website. There are exemptions though. I’m curious to see if that has ever been challenged in court. There is nothing in the constitution requiring it.

      • islandbrewer

        It’s a requirement for naturalization, but not citizenship, per se. I know it sounds like splitting hairs, but a citizen (born in the US) raised by non-English speakers (happens often), isn’t “decitizenized.”

        It’s also not quite the same as having an official language, but it’s getting closer.

  • iknklast

    “Do these people think that every kid who takes French develops a taste
    for wine or that every student who takes Spanish inevitably starts
    Flamenco dancing”

    I don’t know, JT, I took Spanish in high school, taught by a Cuban, and I still have a craving for tacos. In fact, I had tacos just last night. That must be related, right? Next thing you know, I’ll want to go to Rome and sacrifice pigs because my mom taught me how to speak Pig Latin.

    • martaz

      except tacos are not from Cuba, but I get your point ;)

      • MarkTemporis

        But the pork sandwiches are to die for.

        • martaz

          yes they are, but not as much as the fried plantains… Those I kill for….

      • iknklast

        Yes – and Spanish isn’t the original language of Mexico, either. But I never expect the racists to know those nuances, so…

    • Kavita Batra

      Bring back some pig if you do! Roman pigs are yummy…think salami, procuitto etc.

  • Diane Phillipa

    So now Science is the subject of religion (Atheism) Teaching another language is bringing Satan in the front door. Maths teaches liberalism (1+1 does =2) What next teaching geograhy is misguided because it teaches there are other countires out side the US bigger than then are?

  • DesertSun59

    It’s Alabama. Their citizens are some of the most uneducated in this country. It’s a guarantee that Mr. Pyritz has never seen a passport in his entire life, much less ever heard Arabic spoken in real life.

    • J’Zanne

      You should check out on You tube why the stand-up comedian Russel Peters doesn’t “DO” Arab jokes… sadly too true, but oh so funny at the same time.

    • Ikea Monkey

      I’m from Alabama, and I resent your statement. Don’t judge us all by a few bad and uneducated apples. I have a Bachelors Degree in Biology and a Bachelors Degree in Nursing. I speak three spoken languages and also English Sign Language. please don’t generalize the south.

      • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

        English Sign Language? I’m pretty certain that no such language exists. Sign languages in English-speaking countries include American Sign Language, British Sign Language, Irish Sign Language (my mother is an interpreter), New Zealand Sign Language, and Auslan, but these are not really related to the spoken language English.


        • islandbrewer

          Actually, I’m kind of curious about the degree of difference between British and Irish Sign Language, and how much of that difference was made specifically and intentionally by the Irish, and how much is just drift.

          • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

            Actually, it’s BSL which is the odd one out. Most European sign languages, including ISL (and ASL, which is European linguistically) are descendants of Old French Sign Language. BSL isn’t completely unrelated, but is a little different. NZSL and Auslan form a separate linguistic family with BSL (BANZSL, it’s called).


      • Matthew Leeds

        His statement was factually true:


        He said that Alabama’s population is among the least educated in the country. It is good to know where Alabama falls in this context because it illuminates possible reasons why the ignorance discussed in the article exists. As an educated person, you should be concerned about fixing this problem, rather than concerning yourself with expressing displeasure at those who point it out.

      • JohnHWatson

        You speak three spoken languages as opposed to speaking three written languages? :-)

        Anyway, the generalization is true. Look at test scores and curriculum ratings. That doesn’t mean it applies 100% to everyone though. That’s the way generalizations work. And everyone generalizes about at least something every day. It’s human nature.

  • kamrul

    Government should come forward to promote the reality of scientific values ,in domestic and in internationaly ? Not to be double stranderd in respect of politics internationaly what they r doing so long? ?????

  • Joseph Kelsall

    In general the USA is a nation of monoglots. Inshallah, the errant parent will realise that Arabic and Chinese are the languages of the present and maybe the future.
    I worked in Beirut in 1976 and Birmingham, Alabama in 1983. Give me Hamra Street, Beirut anytime; especially now that it has had a magnificent renaissance.I speak French, German and enough Arabic to make my Arab hosts laugh. The world has ceased to revolve around the USA and English is rapidly becoming its second language. Masalaama, Inshallah bukra Al Quds!

    • Robert Brockway

      While I’m all for teaching Arabic in school (personally I’d love to learn it but wouldn’t personally get enough benefit from the significant time investment), I must say that English’s day is not done yet. Many universities in non-English speaking countries are switching to teaching in English. The modern mantra of research is “Publish in English or perish”.

  • Michael Spagnuolo

    There will always be a few nut cases. Hopefully not too many but I’m afraid there’s a lot more than I wish…

  • Janet Holmes

    It’s not racism, it’s xenophobia. And Pyritz is an idiot, how are you going to fight Islamic terrorism if you can’t speak Arabic? Also, while Islam may have failed to provide its adherents with the worldly glory that it promises, so has the US, though not so badly. The regular people in the US are worse off than in any other Western country, so perhaps it’s time they changed a few things.

  • Coco Ziplach

    What does “Arabic” have to do with race? Shouldn’t the headline read “Languagism is alive and well…?

    • ChrisT

      He doesn’t want to teach a language based on racism against the speakers of the language, i.e. there was a Muslim terrorist, all terrorists must be Muslim, Muslims speak Arabic, everyone who speaks Arabic must be a Muslim terrorist. (its not just about the language or the religion)

  • Go

    I personally think all the white europeans, and all other asian, african and arabic insurgents, should be forced to leave The American Continent, Hand it back to those that are the true primary indigenous inhabitants, and then see how they like being pointed out as being loud, opinionated, and zealously religious, when they try and settle somewhere that the population can spell properly and is capable of eating every meal with the use of cutlery.

  • Go

    In the big book, on the shelf near the kahzi, the Genesis chapter says Adam and eve had to sons Cane and Able, ‘then other sons and daughters’ which basically tells you, god says you can’t eat an apple god plonked in front of you for no other obvious reason but a petulant test of his own creation, made in his own image, but you can shag you mum or sister.then nieces nephews and cousins. Now I think some swampy Alabamians might be following the bible a bit too literally. Ain’t religion great.

  • Mark Chiddicks

    “Durka durka durka, jihad Muhammad!”

  • ChrisT

    They should get rid of maths too because we use Arabic Numbers, Arabic culture has failed just as much as Christian culture.

    • martaz

      Might as well get rid of astronomy, chess, Algebra (al-Jabr) the lute, hospitals, toothbrushes, coffee, and parachutes while you’re at it.

  • orriol

    Actually, if you wanna fight terrorism, you need MORE of your “own people” to speak, and understand the goddamn language!…

  • Ari

    One would think that a piece accusing someone of racist stereotyping, would at least try to avoid racist stereotypes.

    • James Buchy

      What are you talking about?

    • Paul

      My thoughts exactly.

  • Mat Bakus

    How many schools actually teach Arabic in the US? From my perspective, this appointment does seem a bit odd, and I can actually understand the scepticism towards it. What I don’t like is the rhetoric employed by these sceptics – their reasoning for opposing it clearly has its roots in xenophobia and racism, but is there any academic justification for a school in Alabama teaching Arabic?

    I am not suggesting that there aren’t people who could make good use of it, but I would have thought that such people (surely a very small minority) can learn it outside the state education system quite easily, and that this would be more appropriate.
    I have to say that if my children’s school in Ireland offered such a course, I would want to see the justification in them spending their very finite funds on it. And I would say the same about most foreign languages. And, come to think of it, why does French get special treatment?!?

    • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

      Did you read the article? It said they had an Arabic teacher on hand anyway.


      • Mat Bakus

        Yes, I did read the article. I realise that they offered the course to take advantage of the fact that they had a teacher who could teach Arabic, but I am unsure why you think this point negates anything that I said. Ah, I said “appointment”! The wrong turn of phrase, but I stand by what I say – is offering a course in Arabic in a school in Alabama an appropriate use of resources? It seems questionable to me.

  • Dean Fox

    You could point out that knowing Arabic would be of use to our secret and military services alike, it helps to know what they’re saying. I’d saying speaking Arabic could be a far more sought after skill than knowing French. I wouldn’t have a problem with my kids being taught it.

  • MarkTemporis

    Didn’t the DOD have a particular shortage of Arabic translators because they were all fired under DADT? I’m puzzled as to why Arabic translators in particular should be predisposed that way.

    • snakeguy

      They aren’t. But those guys KNEW how essential they were, so they figured they could push the issue.

    • islandbrewer

      Obviously, speaking Arabic turned them gay. They were probably communist atheist muslims, too.

  • snakeguy

    If you want to live on this planet, you better learn SOMETHING other than English. Spanish, Hindi, Arabic and Mandarin come to mind.

  • Dakiro

    Good school, teach on.