LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Enough dog whistles about freedom and protecting children

The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.


Dog whistles and phantom boogiemen disguised as “freedom” and “patriotism” are dangerous.

The "dog whistles" became the loudest over frustrations with COVID restrictions. Right-wing groups seized on these frustrations and launched a confusion campaign, which turned folks against basic public health measures — things that literally save people’s lives and are basic facts our kids learned in Mr. Shorter’s fourth-grade science class.

In addition, conspiracies were created of teachers “indoctrinating” our kids on so-called CRT (critical race theory) and LGBTQ “ideology” — claiming it’s a crisis in our schools — so we must “protect the children.” And now, An uproar about the Pledge of Allegiance at school board meetings!?

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Do you know what the real crises are in our schools? And what we should all be in an uproar about?


  • Less than 60% of our Native American youth graduate from Bemidji Area Schools.
  • Black, Brown and LGBTQ youth are experiencing racism, discrimination and bullying in our schools.
  • Teachers and Paras are overworked and underpaid leading to severe burnout and mass exodus of the profession.

Saying the Pledge at school board meetings will do nothing to solve these issues. If anything, it will only make things worse. Native, Black and Brown students cringe and despise having to say the Pledge.

Don’t give us the “if you don’t love our country, then leave” line. Nah, it's not that. Native people are the proudest defenders of the land and country — we have served and fought in the military more than any other ethnicity, in every conflict dating back to the Civil War.

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Nah, it’s because we know it’s hypocritical. Liberty and justice for all? Are you kidding me? Right now, as you read this, there are several Native students who won’t finish the year; there is a Black student who was called the N-word this week; there is an LGBTQ student who is contemplating suicide.

Sadly, there is only a handful of staff who have the time and emotional space to care about these students, because most are overwhelmed and working in a hostile environment created by some school board members.

Please, enough dog whistles about freedom and protecting the children. When Native students graduate at the same rates as white students (90%); when Black, Brown and LGBTQ students feel safe in our schools; when teachers and staff feel appreciated and have the resources to do their jobs; then we can talk about the Pledge.

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