My first awareness of the Hindu greeting Namaste came from Joan Napp (1936-2015), a strong Christian. My second encounter came from Joe Elmore (b. 1931), who was featured in yesterday’s post. They used it as a blessing, as one might use the Hebrew word Shalom, the Hawaiian word Aloha, or perhaps Roll Tide (trademarked) or War Eagle (trademarked).
Full disclosure: I have used each of the above salutations, though not (to the best of my recollection) on the campus of an Alabama public school. Namaste returned to my consciousness when the Alabama Legislature recently overturned a law prohibiting yoga in public schools. I view the reversal as a positive step, though it required a few steps backward.
I subscribe to The Bulwark, a great resource for true conservatives. On May 24, editor-in-chief Charlie Sykes published “Scenes from the Culture War,” in his Morning Shot email (which I recommend). He drew from Elliot Hannon’s May 21 Slate article, “Alabama Lifts Three-Decade-Old Ban on Yoga in Public Schools. But There’s a Catch.”
I’m a fan of free speech and the First Amendment, though hate speech is a serious problem. If the Legislature wades into speech regulation, Namaste is not the first “N-word” I would consider.