At a U.S. congressional candidate debate this past week, the crowd of approximately 300 in attendance drowned out the moderator’s objections, not to protest over government policies or to argue some candidate’s comments, but to insist upon reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Illinois’ 8th Congressional District candidates had gathered at Grayslake Central High School in Grayslake, Ill., to participate in a debate moderated by Kathy Tate-Bradish of the League of Women Voters, Evanston branch.
During Tate-Bradish’s opening comments, an audience member stood to ask if the Pledge of Allegiance would be recited.
“No, we are not,” the moderator responded, “That is not part of the proposal tonight.”
Several in the crowd then began to shout, “Why not?”
When it became clear Tate-Bradish was not going to allow the Pledge to be recited, the audience stood and said it anyway.
The moderator further irked the crowd afterward, saying she felt “disrespected” by being “forced” to include the pledge “in presumably a planned way.”
Video of the exchange, taken by an audience member and posted on YouTube, can be seen below:
The debate was scheduled with three participants, Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, Republican Joe Walsh and the Green Party’s Bill Scheurer.
When the issue of the pledge was first raised, Tate-Bradish explained, “I have absolutely nothing for or against saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of something like this.”
After the audience stood and recited it, however, the moderator scolded the crowd for interrupting her.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that will be the last time I am disrespected,” she said. “There is no disrespect to the flag when something in a forum which does not typically begin with the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t begin with it. There is no disrespect intended. The League of Women Voters does forums like this constantly. … It’s never been requested. And I have to say that being forced by having audience members stand up and in presumably a planned way – to have something like that happen – seems a bit disrespectful.”
Republican candidate Joe Walsh had a different take on the audience’s outburst.
“My favorite part of the entire evening was when the audience stood up and compelled the entire auditorium to say the Pledge of Allegiance,” Walsh said in a separate video of the event. “The League of Women Voters should have demanded that we do, and the fact that the audience drove us all to say it is wonderful.”
Walsh and Rep. Bean joined the audience in reciting the Pledge.
Scheurer, whom Dan McCaleb of the Crystal Lake, Ill., Northwest Herald reported is the son and father of war veterans, however, decided against it.
“It’s not that I oppose reciting the Pledge,” Scheurer told the Herald. “I opposed having my actions that evening being dictated by a mob.”
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