Anthem outcry hypocrisy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon May 8 13:14:09 UTC 2006

Anthem outcry hypocrisy


Oh, say can you see . . . all that hy-po-cri-sy . . . over "The
Star-Spangled Banner"? As part of their celebration of "A Day Without
Immigrants," a group of young Latino musicians translated "The
Star-Spangled Banner" into Spanish - and you'd think they'd attacked the
Alamo all over again. No sooner had the last chords of "Nuestro Himno"
faded away than official America struck back. First, the mighty United
States swung into action. Sen. Lamar Alexander introduced legislation
mandating the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and all other
"statements or songs that symbolize the unity of the nation should be
recited or sung in English, the common language of the United States."

What a hypocrite. Back in 1995, when he was running for president,
Alexander was singing a different tune. He even attacked rival, former
Sen. Bob Dole, saying Dole "showed no respect" for Hispanics when he
called for an "English Only" policy. "My dream is that every child in
America grows up learning two languages," Alexander said at the time. ?omo
se dice "flip flop" en Espanol? Then, the mighty president of the United
States also swung into action.  George W. Bush called reporters to the
White House Rose Garden to declare:  "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."

Now, you must admit, it takes a lot of chutzpah for George W. Bush to
lecture anybody about learning to speak English. If only he had, we
wouldn't be so embarrassed by a president who recently warned the world:
"If the Iranians were to have a nuclear weapon, they could proliferate."
Or who summed up his understanding of the immigration issue with the
profound statement: "Those who enter the country illegally violate the
law." And, again, what a hypocrite. "The Star Spangled Banner" can only be
sung in English. That's what Bush says today, when he's trying to score a
cheap political point against Latinos. But that's not what he said back in
2000, when he was grubbing for votes from Latinos. Back then, he not only
tolerated the Spanish version of the national anthem, he joined in the
chorus. As Kevin Phillips recounts of Bush in his book "American Dynasty":
"When visiting cities like Chicago, Milwaukee or Philadelphia, in pivotal
states, he would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes
joining in singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in Spanish."

Once he came to Washington, Bush's embrace of "Spanglish" continued. As
part of Bush 41's first Inaugural ceremonies, Latino pop star Jon Secada
performed the national anthem, in Spanish, at the White House. And the
official Web site of George Bush's State Department today features four
different versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Spanish - one of them,
the official translation, "La Bandera de la Estrellas," commissioned by
the U.S. Department of Education in 1919. See what I mean? All this
huffing and puffing over "The Star-Spanglish Banner" is nothing but cheap
political posturing. Immigration reform raises a lot of important
questions: How do we secure the border? How do we enforce the law? How do
we create a guest worker program? And, especially, should we provide some
ladder to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented workers already
here, holding down jobs, raising their families and paying taxes?

Yes, there a lot of serious issues surrounding immigration reform. But
this isn't one of them. It's hard enough singing the God-awful
"Star-Spangled Banner" in English. How many people are actually going to
sing it in Spanish? This manufactured issue hardly rises to the level of
demanding presidential or congressional action. And, besides, don't they
have more important issues to deal with? So far, Republican leaders in
Washington have done nothing about gas prices, Social Security, health
care or the bloody war in Iraq. But now they're going to crack down on
Latinos who love America - simply for saying so in Spanish. How silly can
you get? In the end, here's all that matters: The national anthem is a
song praising America. Anytime anybody wants to sing "The Star-Spangled
Banner"  or any other song in praise of America, in any language, we
should thank them, not attack them. Muchas gracias.

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