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Another NY educator promoting intolerance -and banality- under the label of cultural sensitivity

Updated on June 11, 2012
Many American school children would actually choose to show their patriotism if allowed.
Many American school children would actually choose to show their patriotism if allowed.

Some months ago activist officials in the NYC Dept. of Education sought to ban certain words from standardized tests, citing the potential the words could offend some parents. Among the activists' alleged offense-likely groups of parents were those with religious views who look at words such as Halloween and holidays as being insensitive to their beliefs. When the plan to censor the tests was abandoned -due to widespread parental complaints- many around the nation gave a sigh of relief, and for a little while there was hope that this abandoned idea might signal an end to cultural sensitivity run amuck in the NY school system.

We exhaled way too soon.

Greta Hawkins, Principal at a Coney Island school, has now prompted a new public uproar with another tactical move aimed at bringing overbearing cultural sensitivity into the school system: when she found out that the kindergarten class was scheduled to perform Lee Greenwood's, "God Bless The USA" during a graduation ceremony Hawkins pulled the plug on the song. When pressed for an explanation Hawkins is quoted as saying, “We don’t want to offend other cultures."

Not surprisingly, the NY Dept. of Education bureaucrats stand by Hawkins. Spokesperson Jessica Scraperotti jumped on the bandwagon by contending, "The lyrics are not age-appropriate."

In the kind of brilliant move one might expect from Californian educators, Principal Hawkins suggested a replacement ditty for the kindergarteners to sing: Justin Bieber's pop hit, Baby. The brilliant DOE have been only too happy to embrace this proposal.

Many parents and even school staffers are upset by Hawkins' action and are calling for her to be fired.

Now before I go further let me say I am NO fan of Justin Bieber's music. I think his songs -like most pop music today- is banal bubblegum at the very best. I also feel -and strongly so- that to force children to sing his music is downright cruel. Despite my personal feelings I also believe his music is NO MORE EVIL than the rock and roll of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or Metallica...just a lot less interesting, inspired and original.

With that noted, let me also add that I love the "God Bless The USA" song; it is a beautiful, stirring patriotic song. Everything socialist extremists loathe in music.

Now some pundits may suggest the evidence points to Hawkins attempting to make children into mindless liberal zombies by playing the cultural sensitivity card. And further suggestion might say that by saturating their impressionable brains with numbing pop crap makes the process all the easier. Indeed, this scenario is not beyond the pale, and frankly, if this had happened at the instigation of your ordinary teacher or principal I'd be on board with that feelings. However, there is a problem with this suggestion, for it doesn't take into account Hawkins' personal agenda or the atmosphere that has allowed her to act upon that agenda. To understand this, let us return to the aim to censor words from NYC standardized tests:

The pro-censorship side in that issue argued they wanted to spare discomfort from parents who, for religious reasons, could have potentially been offended by certain words, including Halloween, and Halloween, according to the pro-censorship side equates with paganism which, they further argued, equates with devil worship. Now hm, this was just a bit insensitive to the pagan community, wasn't it? And then, additionally, the advocates wanted mention of the word holiday also banned from the tests. Now, what religious organization equally frowns upon the celebration of holidays and Halloween? Could it be Catholics? Nope. How about Muslims? No. The Buddhists? Nah, not even close. The Baptists? The Methodists? The Unitarians? No again and again. Alrighty then..let's just hazard one last guess here..uh, could it possibly be the Jehovah's Witnesses?

Why yes! Jehovah's Witnesses believe it is wrong to celebrate holidays, whether it is Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day or Valentines Day. And birthdays are considered particularly wrongful. According to JW's all these holidays and celebrations "give excessive importance to an individual" (quoted from the Watchtower homepage). Likewise, they believe that displays of patriotism are further forms of temporal wrongdoing, e.g. reciting the pledge of allegiance is seen as an act of worship.

Now I do not for a moment believe or allege that all Jehovah Witnesses are rabid fanatics that seek to push their religious views down the throats of everyone around them. I've known some JW's who are very rational, neighborly and tolerant people. Unfortunately, I've also encountered a few JW's who are the exact opposite. These are the JW's who claim celebrations are ungodly, who swear that rock-and-roll music comes from the Devil and who believe in every updated and revised prediction concerning the End of the World as delivered by the mouths of the JW prophecy-mongering elite.

As it happens Principal Greta Hawkins is a JW.

I don't really care if Ms. Hawkins' religious beliefs keeps her from saying the Pledge. If she honestly believes that there is no difference between worshiping a deity and paying respect to the flag of the country she lives in then I say more power to her - as long as she doesn't try to force the children in her care to believe the same. But one would have to be pretty damned blind not to be able to connect the dots between her personal taboos regarding shows of patriotism and her objection to "God Bless The USA". If she was working at a private Kingdom Hall school she could do this and there would be no problem whatsoever. But this isn't the case. She made the choice to work at a public school. She knew that once employed in the public education system she was going to be dealing with children who come from a great variety of religious backgrounds. And she knew that saying the Pledge of Allegiance with one's hand pressed respectfully over their heart is part the traditional American school experience.

But this isn't the first time Hawkins has been in the middle of controversy: she's been accused of making racist slurs against white and Jewish staffers and of threatening to wrongfully turn parents of unruly children into Children's Services. Her reputation is so bad that even complaints about her behavior made to the United Federation of Teachers identify her as a bully. In a day and age when the attitude of the US teaching profession is often "Us AGAINST them stupid parents" it seems to me that it would be counter-productive to that position for Hawkins to be criticized with no supporting evidence whatsoever.

Hawkins, far left, has been identified as a bully by staffers
Hawkins, far left, has been identified as a bully by staffers | Source

In all fairness, it is possible that these other charges are all complete fiction and she just happens to be surrounded by staff who get their rocks off by making up utter fantasy tales about their superiors. Whatever the case may be -we'll let the official investigation make the final verdict- I do suspect Ms.Hawkins is using politics to advance her religion. Whether by design or accident, the goals of that pro-censor movement echoed the very core of Hawkins' prohibitions regarding holidays and Halloween. How convenient? Maybe for her, but in truth an extremist Liberal ideology already jeopardizes the education system. This ideology strains the relations between teachers and parents and sometimes even teachers and students. By using the battle cry of cultural sensitivity to validate her sentiments Ms. Hawkins is using a political ploy already in play by overtly Liberal educators. This is ironic -hypocritical(?)- too, as Jehovah Witness doctrine has consistently held that politics is just as ungodly an activity as saying the Pledge of Allegiance.

Whatever the outcome of the new controversy Hawkins has now landed herself in, the truth is I feel sorry for her. My own religion is not mainstream and my beliefs sometimes meet bias and mockery. And I understand how someone might be uncomfortable saying the Pledge of Allegiance when the words "Under god" are typically viewed as referring to a traditional Christian deity. But I believe it is the theme of the pledge that counts: I pledge allegiance to a nation built on a premise of fairness and freedom. And despite the many incidents in history when these themes have not been lived up to by various leaders and factions, I still love this nation. I love the principles of liberty and of justice. I think of my own Gods when I recite the word god in the Pledge. When I hear Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA" I again see Their faces, and I know how very fortunate I am to live here in a nation where we are all free to follow whatever belief system we choose.

If system players like Ms. Hawkins can't abide children singing a patriotic song then they are the insensitive ones. If extremist JW's use political ploys to advance religious objectives they are playing the very politics they allege to disavow. And no teaching professional -whatever their religious faith may be- has the right to claim they are educated if they can't distinguish between paying tribute in song to the brave servicemen who protect this country and the act of worship.

Freedom isn't free and the conscious embrace of ignorance is the first step in losing it for good.

May the good Gods bless and keep you all.

This Hub ©June 12, 2012 by Beth Perry

The song Greta Hawkins doesn't want kids to sing


Submit a Comment
  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    7 years ago from Tennesee

    Greensleeves Hubs, what a beautifully stated observation :) I wish you an equally beautiful day and thanks for dropping by!

  • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

    Greensleeves Hubs 

    7 years ago from Essex, UK

    A well reasoned and expressed argument bethperry. Whilst I know nothing of the dispute other than the evidence you present, I do object to the prevailing trend of political correctness whereby nobody can say or do anything which might possibly offend some small section of the community or 'other cultures'.

    Although there are aspects of American life which, as a Brit, I don't like, the fact is that your country is a free democracy where people of all points of view (including Ms Hawkins), can express their opinions. That fact alone makes America a far greater country than many, and therefore a country of which Americans should feel sufficiently proud to praise in song.

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    7 years ago from Tennesee


    thanks for reading and commenting, and good to see you back at HP's! I know you've been busy with your other job but you've definitely been missed :)

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Excellent article, Beth.

    You have a knack for stirring up bees' nests, girlfriend, lol.

    I appreciate your take on the actions of Greta Hawkins, and I'm happy you've brought out the information for the rest of us.

    Unlike one of the previous commentors, I think the information is relavant and important. If Hawkins was in fact guilty of racial slurring, that should have been enough reason to can her even before this incident occurred.

    As interesting as I found the story to be, I found the attitude displayed in a couple of the comments to be equally interesting, and I have to give you kudos for maintaining a far higher degree of patience than I've ever been able to achieve, lol.


  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    7 years ago from Tennesee

    That is actually a good suggestion, Martie! And you're right about the historical repercussions.

    After I wrote this Hub my youngest daughter reminded me of the songs her kindergarten class sang at their little graduation ceremony. One was that Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes song, another was a rendition of The Addams Family theme with school-days-themed lyrics. The last song was God Bless America. And as I recall not one parent was offended by any of them :)

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 

    7 years ago from South Africa

    I believe everything forced down on others by a selective group is wrong. Nothing wrong with promoting/selling ideas, but if the majority don't buy it spontaneously, it is not the right idea at the specific time. If we look at history we can clearly see how religious and political dogmas that were forced down eventually exploded in a war of a kind. Why haven't she/they asked the opinions of the 'singers'. The opinions of those DOING what are regarded by those in leading positions as 'wrong' or 'out-dated' are always extremely insightful.

    Interesting topic!

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    7 years ago from Tennesee


    I wasn't being cocky. There are many times I joke around, but not when it comes to wishing someone a blessing. I am a Norse traditionalist pagan and have been a priestess of the faith for over 20 years. In this capacity I believe that when someone strains my patience it is much preferable to wish them a blessing than get into an argument. As for your links I happened to copy those before deleting and did visit that site. But your religious beliefs are not mine any more than mine are yours so don't expect me to be suddenly converted by what I read there. And out of respect for other readers as well as my own sense of patience in this matter, I will not be approving any further remarks in this section that read like an attempt to convert someone to any religious or spiritual belief. If you feel the need of witnessing your faith to people may I suggest -with all honest respect- that you make yourself available to those seeking spiritual advice and stop trying to convert those who already have found their spiritual niche.

    Thank you and gods bless.

  • elijahtruth profile image


    7 years ago from texas

    Thor, Hum, how did you know I am of Norweign descent??? Ha, if you will go to the websites offensely posted in my comment, you will find that our Lord has a very special Love for the Germatic people, and if you will make contact with the site they can explain how Odin, and Thor are brought forth by the Same God's children of the Bible Deuteronomy 32:8.... Much Respect to the some what Cocky Beth Perry

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    7 years ago from Tennesee


    I appreciate you dropping by and reading, I really do. About your earlier comment, however, it had quite a bit of religious quotations in it, as well as two or three links. But dude, this is a comment section and may Thor bless and keep you, but honestly I am not comfortable with links that may or may not be safe for any of my readers to follow. I'm sorry if you were offended but I want to protect all my readers, at least to the best of my ability. Gods bless.

  • bethperry profile imageAUTHOR

    Beth Perry 

    7 years ago from Tennesee



    ib radmasters,

    Steve Orion,


    thanks much for dropping in and leaving your comments :)

  • elijahtruth profile image


    7 years ago from texas

    Beth Perry great Hub, I again this morning received a notification of your Hub as the other day, yet I notice you are not a free speech Hub due to my comment not being posted still I am very impressed by your concern for truth and for God's Word! As the bible tells us the anti-christ will be making people deny God's word in this day, when the Bible speaks of the anti-christ it is not just speaking of one man as Paul foretold that any who do not believe are anti-christ, and controlled by the anti-christ spirit! As I stated the other day if you will go to the Site at Hub pages of The Lord's Mystery is finished Rev:10:7 and visit all the links on the hub you will find our Lord has had enough, and on the site of Adam and Eve seed gathering Ministry on the about us page are evidences of God's mystery being now finished Rev:10:7, and of His Great Love for His Daughters of this Epic Days Destiny, also go to the Prophecy and the signs page for the waking signs of this now due season! Again great Hub, powerfully expressed... Respect ElijahTruth/r.p.berry

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    This woman should be fired without a doubt. How come suddenly people are offended by saying the pledge or sing a patriotic song? I think they should move to a country that supports their beliefs. It also infuriates me that a few people rule the masses. Great hub and right on the money.

  • Steve Orion profile image

    Steve Orion 

    7 years ago from Tampa, Florida

    Why should it have anything to do with culture? You shouldn't prevent kids from singing "God Bless The USA" because it goes against some cultural practices of someone, somewhere, but because it goes against reason. Why would children sing, at a public school, "God Bless the USA?" That seems, to me, an assault, not on my religious beliefs or secular beliefs or any belief at all, but my reason.

    Children in a public school should sing about, not only the seemingly-apparent existence of a higher power than man, but how he should somehow also "bless" our country? If you think of our nation's greatness and about the sacrifice of servicemen and women, then sing about that. I find it absolutely absurd to sing about God or a song that has "God" in the song and then say, "No, no, no! It's all about America and the soldiers' sacrifice, it doesn't have anything to do with religion and is not offensive to reason, at all! Come on, you silly liberal socialist extremists!"

  • ib radmasters profile image

    ib radmasters 

    7 years ago from Southern California


    A well written hub on the tail wagging the dog. It seems that Greta Hawkins is advancing her own beliefs while using her authority as principal. Worse yet is for the NYS Board of Education to back her.

    You don't even have to believe in God, to keep the tradition of the country. This argument of hers that it was necessary to pull the song because of sensitivity to other cultures is a problem.

    Other cultures come into the US to enjoy what it took over two hundred and thirty five years to achieve, and they want to have their culture override it.

    In the 1900s many Europeans came into the country, and they melted into our culture. That was the reason that they were here. If they wanted their culture, they could have stayed in their own country.

    This liberal politically correct ideology is not healthy for the country. It is really the tail wagging the dog.

  • Skarlet profile image


    7 years ago from California

    Great hub.

    Honestly, I don't know what is happening to this country. The thinking is so upside down.

    Voted up

  • Josak profile image


    7 years ago from variable

    The whole issue seems really trivial, I don't particularly mind one way or the other, I guess it makes sense for the public system to be secular (separation of church and all that), honestly people on both sides are taking it way too seriously.


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