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Boulder High Student Responds To Bill O'Reilly's Recent Attack On His School

Reported by Deborah - September 29, 2007 -

Guest Blogged by Boulder High School Student
Mansur Gidfar

It seems Bill O’Reilly is having a go at Boulder – again. For those who don’t remember me, I’m one of the three Boulder High School students who led the (student) opposition to Billy’s first crusade against Boulder over the Conference of World Affairs “Sex, Teens, and Drugs” panel. Tonight Deborah was nice enough to ask me to post my thoughts on O’Reilly’s most recent attack on Boulder High School, so here I am. Naturally I find this all very upsetting – I had just booked an aircraft carrier and was in the process of hanging “Mission Accomplished” banners to celebrate the success the student body had in countering O’Reilly’s last attempt to paint our town as a place where secular progressive pedophiles run wild.

Although I can’t claim to be completely objective in my thoughts on the matter (chances are I’ll be on whatever side O’Reilly’s not), I was never, and as it stands still am not, involved with the Student Worker protests of the Pledge of allegiance. After last week’s protest, however, Student Worker’s faculty sponsor Jim Vacca requested that I stop by the group’s meeting after school and share whatever insights I could about talking to the media, what to expect in the way of argument against them, and what to do about the fact that Fox News had called a students cell phone from New York looking for someone to interview on The Factor (the interview was later declined). After going over the fundamental arguments of Student Worker’s grievances with the pledge, I can safely say that (surprise surprise) Bill O’Reilly has once again run a story without any attempt to fact check.

Let’s start with the basics. Right off the bat, O’Reilly is off in reporting that Student Worker’s case revolves around the assertion that the phrase “Under God” is offensive. As I understand it, the core argument presented by Student Worker is that the pledge disrupts the learning experience and takes away from class time. This stance requires a bit of explanation, as it has raised a few eyebrows due to the fact the Student Worker’s protest takes an equal amount of time. Under Colorado law, the Pledge of Allegiance must be made available for recitation during school hours. Up until this year, however, the Pledge was recited before school in the auditorium and could be optionally attended by any student who felt so inclined. This year, however, the Pledge has been moved to the beginning of second period. Although participation is still optional, Student Worker feels that this new policy imposes the Pledge on students who are opposed to recitation, disagree with the phrase under god, or would simply rather be studying (I have second period anatomy/physiology, and I can say from experience that it’s hard to feel patriotic when you’re up to your elbows in a cat dissection). Student Worker is also worried that the Pledge will be trivialized in the eyes of those who do wish to recite it by the vast majority of students who simply ignore the recitation and remain seated. Based on the above arguments, Student Worker’s goal was to move the pledge from being broadcasted over the intercom during second period to an optional recitation in the auditorium during lunch hours, not the removal of the phrase “under god” or recitation of the pledge itself completely. Of course, O’Reilly failed to mention any of this.

As far as claims that “these kids don’t even know the issue” go, another swing and a miss for Bill O. The incorporation of the phrase “Under God” by president Eisenhower as a result of heavy lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, a special interest group with close ties to the Catholic Church, was discussed in great depth at the student worker meeting last Tuesday (which, unless my perception of time has been inexplicably skewed, was before the O’Reilly factor report). It was established that the phrase was inserted to differentiate us from the “communist hoards”, as O’Reilly put it. Although many find the phrase disagreeable, Student Worker decided that the “under god” argument had been kicked around so many times it would be unrealistic to base their entire protest on that single premise.

Once again, Bill O’Reilly has exemplified a common tendency in his destructive brand of conservative media. Instead of presenting a balanced report (or at the very least accurate statements), O’Reilly chose to avoid debating the actual issue and bring in Denver’s favorite small time talk radio version of O’Reilly (but with better hair) Dan Caplis to spend a good five minutes discussing why the student’s opinions are invalid. Bill is eager to write off the Student Worker protesters are immature, attention seeking punks encouraged by a corrupted and flawed community instead of taking a real look at the issue and arguments at hand.

I’m currently in favor of inviting Bill O’Reilly, Dan Caplis, and Craig Silverman to come to Boulder High and debate a panel of students, but as it stands that outcome would be highly unlikely. I can however with a great deal of certainty say that the students of Boulder High won’t stand for this attack on our school and community. For the sake of his fragile ego, I hope that O’Reilly doesn’t continue his anti-Boulder crusade. He knows what’s waiting for him if he tries to go after us again.

Good Night, and Good Luck.

~ Mansur Gidfar