Daphne High School in Daphne, Ala. will offer Arabic language classes instead of French classes this fall. Some parents are outraged. They're afraid their children will learn "the culture of hate" associated with the Arabic language. According to Chuck Pyritz, a father of two students who attend Daphne High School, "When you teach Arabic, you have to teach the culture along with it. The culture is intertwined with Islam."
It's unfortunate that in thispoint in time, people are still this ignorant. First and foremost, Arabic is not exclusive to Islam and Muslims. Around the world, both non-Muslims and Muslims speak Arabic as a first language. Second, Islam is not a culture of hate. The word Islam is rooted from the Arabic word salam which means peace. The values of peace, coexistence, and tolerance are deeply embedded throughout the very foundation of the religion and its associated cultures. This is not to say that there aren't extremist Muslims in the world or that what they're doing isn't wrong, but these people are simply representations of themselves and their respective ideological groups. They do not speak for or act on behalf of the religion of Islam or the entire global population of Muslims. The majority of the Muslim world condemns acts of terrorism and extremism by any groups or people, Muslim or not.
Parents expressed concern over whether the language course had any "foundational value." One said, "This is America, and English is our language … 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…" The United States does not have an official language. As so much of U.S. foreign policy is focused on relations with Middle Eastern countries, learning Arabic is extremely important to properly handle foreign relations through diplomacy. It is far more relevant a language to learn than French, at least right now.
The only cure for ignorance is education. It seems, however, that the parents of Daphne High School students are averse to knowledge. At the very least their feeble minds should be put at ease by the fact that learning a language does not indoctrinate the associated culture. Learning Italian does not make you more Italian. Learning Spanish does not make you more Spanish. Learning Arabic does not make you more Arab, which, by the way, is not a synonym for Muslim.