Sunday, April 30, 2006

America has Nothing to Fear

Franklin Delano Roosevelt lectured us on the danger of fear:
So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
A British music producer has released a Spanish language version of the National Anthem. And many on the right are fearful of the possible damage to the Nation.

As the New York Daily News opined:
President Bush got it right Friday when he said: "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English." This is no slight to any proud heritage; it's the American identity and the way of assimilation.
Or as the Prescott Daily Courier editorialized:
"But if it's OK now to mess with countries' national anthems, how about and English language version of "Mexicanos, al grito de Guerra," the Mexican national anthem ­ which translates "Mexicans, to the War Cry."

We could have some lyrics criticizing "mordida," the systemic bribery network in Mexico that suppresses workers and forces them to seek work in the United States. Let's redo "Rule Britannia," and put in a shot or two at snotty Brit music producers. Then we can do "The Marseillaise" and talk about how the French sat out the Iraq war in hopes of continuing to clean up selling Saddam Hussein technology and munitions.
The Christian Broadcasting Network even located Charles Key who apparently is the great-great-grandson of Francis Scott Key, who commented:
“I think it's a despicable thing, for someone to come in our society, and change our national anthem,” said Key.
It is ironic that we are fighting so hard to keep the National Anthem being sung only in English.

Does anyone recall the history of the Anthem?

As related:
Francis Scott Key's words commemorate precise details of a specific event during the War of 1812. The actual star-spangled banner was 30' by 42'--the largest battle flag ever flown. It had been commissioned by Major George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor, who wanted a flag large enough to be seen by the British at a distance. Flag-maker Mary Young Pickersgill, assisted by her 13-year-old daughter Caroline, assembled the flag with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, laying out yards of woolen bunting at night by candlelight on the spacious floor of a brewery.

British forces had burned Washington in August of 1814, and captured a beloved elderly physician named William Beanes. Francis Scott Key, a successful Washington lawyer, had permission from President James Madison to try to negotiate Beanes' release. Negotiations took place over dinner--while the British officers also planned their attack on Baltimore. Beanes was freed, but he and Key were not permitted to return to Baltimore until after the battle whose plans they had overheard. They spent the night on their own sloop under a flag of truce, listening and watching for signs of the battle's outcome.

The British fired 1500 bombshells at Fort McHenry, including specialized Congreve rockets that left red tails of flame ("the rockets' red glare") and bombs with burning fuses that were supposed to explode when they reached their target but often blew up in midair instead ("the bombs bursting in air").

Watching from eight miles downstream, Key was able to see the huge battle flag hoisted at dawn to replace the storm flag that had flown through the rainy night. An amateur poet and hymn-writer (his hymns include Before the Lord We Bow and Lord With Glowing Heart I'd Praise Thee), he began a commemorative poem, which he called The Defence of Fort M'Henry, on the back of an old letter.
I just thought I would remind everyone.

You know.

How we were fighting the BRITISH in the War of 1812. And now we are fighting to preserve the National Anthem so it shoud be sung only in the language of that enemy we were fighting?

I think we all need to be speaking English as a matter of common understanding.

We don't need to become bilingual and have other reasons to fail to communicate with our fellow Americans.

But lighten up a little folks.

Each American can sing of his or her love of this country in their native tongue.

Let us support public education in America and make sure that all young people can learn English in our public schools and pursue that American dream we have come to love. But our desire to make everyone fit into a niche and suppress diversity is everything that is against the American creed of diversity, of tolerance, and of mutual respect.

Nick Gillespie says it best in the San Francisco Chronicle today:
It's embarrassing enough -- humiliating, really -- that the United States doesn't have a state religion, which would facilitate community and national identity. So we can at least have an official language, and it's a good thing everyone agrees it ought to be English, because most of us speak it already, and it's probably pretty close to what "American" would sound like if we hadn't been British colonies originally.

All the greatest minds of the second, and probably last, American century -- Lou Dobbs, Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, author Ann Coulter -- concur that becoming fluent in English should be a condition to live in these United States. (The visionary Dobbs, channeling the great American-turned-English poet T.S. Eliot, goes further still, deriding St. Patrick's Day celebrations just as Eliot rightly attacked the "apeneck" Irish for their self-evidently subhuman nature.)

It's bad enough that we have to eat foreign food, live in states with Spanish-derived names and answer that extra question about which language to use at the ATM. (Thought experiment: How much is that extra second or two of time slowing down the U.S. economy and driving down our productivity, precisely at the moment when the Chinese are breathing down our necks like a bunch of post-industrial railroad coolies?)

Thank you, Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo from the great state of Colorado, er Reddish-Colored, for having the courage to introduce a constitutional amendment that would declare English the official language of the United States. (And for being the most forceful advocate of building a wall between Mexico and the United States, though I hope you'll be more careful in checking out the government contractors than you were with your personal ones, to make sure they aren't using illegal immigrants to pour concrete.)
So let us not be afraid of those who sing in languages other than our former Rulers.

But let us embrace diversity. Let the music play on.



Blogger ~JS said...

they say 'imitation is the best form of flattery' and what a tribute to the vibrant culture that is usa to have a minority take the time to put in into their own words...

here in the eu, we have 'ode to joy' as the european anthem -- without lyrics...

3:59 PM  
Blogger BobsAdvice said...


Nice point.

But then again that would be far too reasonable and understanding an approach for many in this country.

America is not about any particular language.

America is not about any particular nationality, religion, race, political view, or sexual orientation.

America has always been about the "land of the free."

It is just time we all recognized our diversity and learned to respect and love each other.

Meanwhile, sing on!


7:05 PM  

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