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May 2, 2006 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Somos Americanos Part of the current immigration discussion is a lot of arguing about the proper lyrics to an old English drinking song [mp3] U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a resolution saying the national anthem should be sung in English. President Bush was for singing the anthem in Spanish; now he's against it. The US Bureau of Education commissioned a Spanish-language version in 1919 and the State Department has otras versiones en español on its web site. "The Star-Spangled Banner" became the US national anthem in 1931.
posted by kirkaracha (71 comments total)

 
Sing it in Spanish when?
posted by Witty at 11:42 AM on May 2, 2006


personally in my own opinion...i have always liked either "This Land Is Your Land" or "America The Beautiful" better have always wanted those as the national anthem. The first one never will because of Woody's socialist leanings...but still a better some then the militaristic one we have now.
posted by ShawnString at 11:54 AM on May 2, 2006


The Los Angeles Times and InfoPlease's "Star-Mangled Banner" on previous controversial versions.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:55 AM on May 2, 2006


Here's another sample of The Anacreontic Song, sung a cappella by The Hilliard Ensemble, this time entitled To Anacreon in Heaven. Realplayer and Windows Media only, though.
posted by Ohdemah at 12:05 PM on May 2, 2006


One can argue for or agains this issue but there is one simple fact to remember:
There is no law whatsoever that states that English is the national language. None.
posted by Postroad at 12:09 PM on May 2, 2006


Wow. I wish I had the kind of time and complete lack of other priorities to worry about something like this. I guess not a lot is going on for those folks right now. Well, that and their erectile disfunction or whatever the hell else it is that makes them so goddamn insecure.

/snark and irritation not at all directed at this post itself. Thanks kirkaracha
posted by Smedleyman at 12:09 PM on May 2, 2006


Wow; so Bush has actually sung the Anthem in Spanish himself. Someone must have video of that.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:14 PM on May 2, 2006


Let's hope it gets a reggae cover, in French. (Serge Gainsbourg's reggae version of La Marseillaise was later covered in English by Jamaican star Big Youth).
posted by liam at 12:19 PM on May 2, 2006


Yannick Noah could sing it at his son's basketball games.
posted by liam at 12:22 PM on May 2, 2006


I sang the Pledge of Allegence and the National Anthem in Spanish back in Spanish class in the 7th grade and look how I turned out.

This is a non-issue along the same as "them" stealing Christmas or Easter. I'm sure FoxNews talking heads are talking about how the "Mexicans" are going to make us "Americans" sing the anthem in Spanish. These same "Americans" don't know the words in English anyway. This faux outrage and another talking head's call to burn the Mexican flag is just noise to distract from the real issue.

I hate this faux patrotism that those are using in the immigration debate. Latinos have been contributing to the US since before many states were part of the US.
posted by birdherder at 12:28 PM on May 2, 2006


The silly part about all this, is it's not really the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish.
I mean, If you look at the words in the first link, it's got a couple of lines that are the same, but it's basically a different song.

It's also interesting that the song is being _marketed_ by a British music producer who doesn't even speak Spanish.
posted by madajb at 12:38 PM on May 2, 2006


"The Star-Spangled Banner" became the US national anthem in 1931.

and this centuries-old traditional hymn must therefore not be sullied!
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 1:01 PM on May 2, 2006


i have always liked either "This Land Is Your Land" . . . better have always wanted those as the national anthem.

We just wouldn't sing the last verse.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 1:02 PM on May 2, 2006


and this centuries-old traditional hymn must therefore not be sullied!

Um, you know it wasn't written in 1931, right? It actually is a centuries-old traditional hymn. But I'm not sure how it sullies it if it's sung in a different language. I'd say the objectionable part is that the "translations" aren't actually translations of the actual lyrics, yet the spanish language version apparently purports to be a version of the same anthem.

It is a bit odd that the U.S. doesn't have an official language. Don't countries with official languages tend to have more multilingual people than those that don't, anyway (I'm thinking of Switzerland, in particular)?
posted by JekPorkins at 1:06 PM on May 2, 2006


National Anthem Sung In Spanish At First Bush Inaugural
"...Bush’s highly-scripted 2001 inaugural ceremony actually featured a rendition of the national anthem sung in Spanish by Jon Secada. From Cox News Service, 1/18/01:
The opening ceremony reflected that sentiment. A racially diverse string of famous and once famous performers entertained Bush, soon-to-be First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, who watched on stage from a special viewing area.

Pop star Jon Secada sang the national anthem in English and Spanish.
Apparently, Secada singing the anthem in Spanish was a regular feature of the Bush campaign. From the 8/3/00 Miami Herald:
The nominee, his wife Laura, erstwhile rival John McCain and his wife Cindy joined Bush on a platform where children sang the national anthem - in 'Spanglish,' Secada explained."
posted by ericb at 1:11 PM on May 2, 2006


Flip-flopper, dear Decider!
posted by ericb at 1:12 PM on May 2, 2006


But that was pre-9/11...
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:28 PM on May 2, 2006


I love this debate. Because it's absolutely great to have a national anthem:

- that nobody knows beyond the first verse
- that glorifies war and violence
- that contains words that most Americans can't define
- with a melody stolen from an old English drinking song
- with a melody so difficult you need a three-octave range just to sing it properly

But gods forbid anyone try to translate it into a different language! I second the vote that "This Land is Your Land" needs to surpass it. Or hell, why not "We Shall Overcome"?

I'd like to take all the people who are opposed to singing the anthem in Spanish, and ask them what a rampart is.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:29 PM on May 2, 2006


He never gets any credit, but John Stafford Smith wrote the music. (Apparently the same tune was briefly the national anthem of Luxembourg.)

"The Star-Spangled Banner" (technically, it was "The Defense of Fort McHenry") wasn't even the first poem that Francis Scott Key wrote to the tune.

The comments on this old post of mine had some suggestions for replacement anthems.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:42 PM on May 2, 2006


It glorifies war & violence? I strongly disagree. Maybe verses other than the 1st one do - I don't have the inclination to look them up. But the first verse is simply about Ft. McHenry getting shot to bits and asking whether or not the flag still waves even after being shot to bits by our enemies.

It glorifies tenacity and a refusal to succumb to violent enemies, but it's not about the U.S. invading somebody, killing somebody, or being aggressive in any way. If anything, it's anti-war.

At least it's not about tying a belt around your head. (sorry, Italy, just kidding there)
posted by JekPorkins at 1:47 PM on May 2, 2006


"America has one national creed, but many accents. We're now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. We're a major source of Latin music, journalism, and culture. Just go to Miami, or San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago, or West New York, New Jersey ... and close your eyes and listen. You could just as easily be in Santo Domingo or Santiago or San Miguel de Allende. For years, our nation has debated this change — some have praised it and others have resented it. By nominating me, my party has made a choice to welcome the New America."

-George W. Bush, August 2000

Soy George W. Bush, y aprobé este mensaje.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:03 PM on May 2, 2006


The Star-Spangled Banner -- German, Yiddish and French.
posted by ericb at 2:14 PM on May 2, 2006


Harris Interactive Poll
"Nearly two in three Americans (61%) don’t know all of the words to the Star Spangled Banner.

Of those who claim to know all the words, only 39 percent know what follows 'whose broad stripes and bright stars' (answer:'through the perilous fight')
34 percent answered 'were so gallantly streaming'
19 percent answered 'gave proof through the night'"
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on May 2, 2006


This is the National Anthem

This is the National Anthem on drugs.

(Both Whitney Houston, both YouTube)
posted by b_thinky at 2:17 PM on May 2, 2006


"I sang the Pledge of Allegence and the National Anthem in Spanish back in Spanish class in the 7th grade and look how I turned out."

Um, is this supposed to persuade us to be for it, or against?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:19 PM on May 2, 2006


Honestly, we USians needs a new one because the current one is too hard to sing, both in terms of lyrical content and melody ("and the rockets red glare. . ."? There's a reason even the best singers have trouble with that moment).

Another vote for "This Land is Your Land." Prettier, more jovial, more in alignment with this nation's ideals. And it's ten times easier to accompany on guitar or piano.

There's no reason that a nation's symbolic gestures should be overly complex. I mean, if we can update the Pledge in order to appease religious wingnuts ("Under God," added 1951 I believe), why not the anthem?
posted by bardic at 2:38 PM on May 2, 2006


(to appease the truly patriotic among us, who still buy into that "American dream" bullsnit, like me.)
posted by bardic at 2:39 PM on May 2, 2006


I think "Star Spangled Banner" (our current anthem) is great. I've not seen any polling done, but I suspect most Americans like it (those who attend sporting events, anyways, which is really the only time you ever hear it.
posted by b_thinky at 2:49 PM on May 2, 2006


I suspect they don't. If they liked it so much, why wouldn't they know the lyrics? It's impossible to sing well, if at all.
posted by bardic at 2:51 PM on May 2, 2006


They could just go the Japanese national anthem way: no formal national anthem until 1999, and then they pick the informal national anthem that most people know the words to, but nobody understands anyway (that's what you get when you use a 1,000 year old poem as your national anthem). If we did the same, we could use the Old English version of the Lord's Prayer as our national anthem:

Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum,
Si þin nama gehalgod.
To becume þin rice,
gewurþe ðin willa, on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg,
and forgyf us ure gyltas, swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum.
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge, ac alys us of yfele. soþlice.
posted by Bugbread at 2:55 PM on May 2, 2006


If they liked it so much, why wouldn't they know the lyrics?

How many people know the lyrics to a single Rolling Stones song? If they like "Brown Sugar" so much, why wouldn't they know all the lyrics? People like lots of songs that they don't know the lyrics to and couldn't sing the melody to if their life depended on it.

I'd bet that the percentage of Americans who know the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner is approximately the same as or just slightly lower than the percentage of Americans who know the lyrics to "This Land Is Your Land."
posted by JekPorkins at 2:59 PM on May 2, 2006


So does "home of the brave" refer to the dead Indians or what?
posted by rxrfrx at 3:01 PM on May 2, 2006


I know all the words to "Brown Sugar," and it was recorded before I was born. Pretty fascinating song, actually--linking white lust for black girls to the slave trade, metaphorically. A better example would be Sean Paul's "Temperature." Yes, a lot of people under 30 know the lyrics to this song by heart, patois and all. I know most of them, just through commercials and cell phone rings.

As for "This Land is Your Land," while hard data is tough to come by, I'll settle for my experiences as both a former camper and a former counselor--you're wrong.

(I had an amazing religious studies prof in college who traced "Darth Vader" back through Lucas, to Campbell, than to "Faeder ure" in Bede. Neat stuff bugbread.)
posted by bardic at 3:19 PM on May 2, 2006


(*not my cell phone rings, mind you. That's for 2LiveCrew lyrics*)
posted by bardic at 3:20 PM on May 2, 2006


It glorifies war & violence? I strongly disagree. Maybe verses other than the 1st one do - I don't have the inclination to look them up.

I think he's referring to the verse that goes:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


That said, I like the song, and its celebration of American tenacity--and it works pretty well as an anthem, although I think I'd like "America the Beautiful" better. I really don't see any problem with singing it in another language, though. It's an alternative, one more way to celebrate our love of our country, and surely a society as diverse as ours can survive people expressing patriotism in Spanish as well as English.

I understand people's reservations about it, to a certain extent, I suppose, but the President's recent remarks stink of snivelling hypocracy, given his apparent past opinion of the song in Spanish.
posted by EarBucket at 3:26 PM on May 2, 2006


"America the Beautful" has a great melody and tempo, but the lyrics are pretty vapid. This actually makes it perfect for a national anthem as well.
posted by bardic at 3:29 PM on May 2, 2006


(I once heard Leon Russell sing Bob Dylan's "Masters Of War" to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Made for fairly pointed commentary.
posted by EarBucket at 3:30 PM on May 2, 2006


Yes, I know the lyrics to those songs, too. But then, I know the lyrics to the U.S. National Anthem.

But there are lots of songs I like that I don't know the lyrics to, even though I do actually try to know all the lyrics to songs I like. The point is, lots of people like songs even though they don't know the lyrics. If this were not true, R.E.M. would never have sold any records.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:31 PM on May 2, 2006


"America the Beautful" has a great melody and tempo, but the lyrics are pretty vapid. This actually makes it perfect for a national anthem as well.

Heh, agreed. Ironically, the French are about the only people I can think of who have a really kickass national anthem.
posted by EarBucket at 3:31 PM on May 2, 2006


I've seen the most stereotypically "French" French person, half a Galois hanging from their mouth, copy of Baudrillard in their pocket, pretty much go into a bloodthirsty mania while sing the Marseillaise. The "SSB"? Not so much. They're usually peeing or buying popcorn.
posted by bardic at 3:49 PM on May 2, 2006


JekPorkins : "The point is, lots of people like songs even though they don't know the lyrics. If this were not true, R.E.M. would never have sold any records."

You think that's bad, think of all us Cocteau Twins fans.
posted by Bugbread at 3:50 PM on May 2, 2006


I say we just throw away all the lyrics whatever language and always play the Hendrix version from Woodstock.
posted by hwestiii at 3:52 PM on May 2, 2006


JekPorkins, nice straw man. I'm sure Michael Stipe stays up late at night hoping he can top Sir Francis Scott Key.

That said, national anthems are popular symbolic gestures that, IMO, should reflect the normative values and ideals of a country as simply and directly as possible. By this standard, the SSB is a failure--lyrics no one knows to a melody no one (even talented singers) can sing about an event that, unfortunately, most Americans don't know about. Gimme Woody Guthrie's direct, abstract appeal to shared values and resources over bad 19th century poetry any day.
posted by bardic at 3:55 PM on May 2, 2006


How is that a straw man? You opined that people's failure to memorize the lyrics to the SSB indicates that they don't really like the song. I pointed out that people often like songs to which they don't know the lyrics. It's not a question of whether the songwriter of one was trying to top the other.

That said, I suspect that Michael Stipe does stay up late at night hoping he can top Sir Francis Scott Key (was he really a knight?).

national anthems . . . should reflect the normative values and ideals of a country as simply and directly as possible.


The SSB would be more direct if it simply said, over and over again: "If you try to beat us down, you can't." I guess that means that "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba should be our national anthem (the horror. the horror.).
posted by JekPorkins at 4:04 PM on May 2, 2006


Umm, they're not American.
posted by bardic at 4:09 PM on May 2, 2006


Q Scott, I wonder -- on Friday, the President firmly said he believes the National Anthem should be sung in English. Kevin Phillips, the Republican analyst, wrote a book called American Dynasty, and in there he claims that during the President's 2000 campaign, he did sing the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish at some Hispanic festivals, various campaign events. Are you aware, do you recall that from the 2000 campaign?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't.

Q Do you think that that would be counter to what the President laid out on Friday?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't recall that, and I'm not going to try to speculate on something I haven't looked into.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2006


Shit. "Tubthumping" should totally be our national anthem.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:27 PM on May 2, 2006


As for "This Land is Your Land," while hard data is tough to come by, I'll settle for my experiences as both a former camper and a former counselor--you're wrong.

Well, I know all the words to the national anthem, but don't know anything about This Land is Your Land. I haven't heard that song since kidergarten.

I'm sure most Americans who attend sporting events (the only place you'd ever hear the anthem) know most of the lyrics. For the people who only watch the Super Bowl or something once a year, of course they don't know the lyrics. They probably only know the last line "the home of the free/and the land of the brave" which is the only important part, really.

I think the anthem kicks ass.
posted by b_thinky at 4:33 PM on May 2, 2006


It would be impossible to pick a song whose lyrics everyone in America agreed upon. Therefore, my solution is that we change the melody to that of "Oh, Tannenbaum" (AKA "Oh Christmas Tree", AKA "Maryland, My Maryland"), and we make the lyrics:

America, America
America, America
America, America
America, America
Americaaa
Americaaa
Americaaa
Americaaa
America, America
America, America
posted by Bugbread at 5:03 PM on May 2, 2006


This is a great post. I'm suprised there isn't more discussion, though it has been interesting so far. There is a simple option to making the SSB easier to sing, change the key:
"We may be the only nation in the world whose citizens in general can't sing their own national anthem. By simply lowering its key, the vast majority of us can sing "The Star Spangled Banner" with both pride and exhilaration . "

Dr. Ed Siegel
There is some audio/video there, though I was having trouble getting the sound right on the video.
posted by pithy comment at 5:08 PM on May 2, 2006


Pithy:

That video was incredibly dorky, but he seems to have a point.
posted by Bugbread at 5:14 PM on May 2, 2006


I didn't say it wasn't dorky. There are people who think it should be sung in its usual key, A-minor, saying "It's our song!...It wasn't meant to be a performance piece. We need to take ownership and have the confidence as a nation to sing it."
posted by pithy comment at 5:18 PM on May 2, 2006


Shit. "Tubthumping" should totally be our national anthem.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:27 PM PST on May 2


"He takes a whisky drink,
He takes a vodka drink,
He takes a lager drink,
He takes a cider drink"

Why the hell not?
posted by oats at 5:26 PM on May 2, 2006


Funny, I just happened to make a long post about this issue on my blog.

I couldn't find a copy of the New Mexico constitution, but reliable sources say that New Mexico has 2 official languages: Spanish and English. (and Hawaii has Hawaiian and English). That why I think that even purists shouldn't be offended by renditions in Spanish or Hawaiian.
posted by bugmuncher at 5:39 PM on May 2, 2006


And Hawaii's toher (unofficial) language - Pidgin.
posted by ericb at 5:47 PM on May 2, 2006


toher is Pidgin for other ;)
posted by ericb at 5:47 PM on May 2, 2006


What's the point of jingoism if you can't exclude people? The anthem should be restricted to English, with a recognised American accent.
posted by pompomtom at 6:11 PM on May 2, 2006


"I'm sure most Americans who attend sporting events (the only place you'd ever hear the anthem) "

Doesn't that tell you something?

"I think the anthem kicks ass."

Hey man, this kicks ass too!
posted by 2sheets at 6:43 PM on May 2, 2006


"I'm sure most Americans who attend sporting events (the only place you'd ever hear the anthem) "

Not to prove you wrong - but I heard it two days ago at my loca library. It was during a Dia De Los Ninos festival.
posted by bradth27 at 7:30 PM on May 2, 2006


Tubthumping, you say?

Anyway, this is such a distraction, it's getting insane how easily the right does this nowadays. People like Malkin nakedly compare all illegal immigrants to serial killers. So what if Dubya sang it in Spanish once? They're demonizing Bush and the "guest worker" program at the same time (presumably so that Goopers can stake out some distance from his falling poll numbers), so it doesn't matter a whit to them.

Strategery. That's all it is. Except they use it more against us than anybody else.
posted by dhartung at 10:48 PM on May 2, 2006


By this standard, the SSB is a failure--lyrics no one knows to a melody no one (even talented singers) can sing about an event that, unfortunately, most Americans don't know about.

I have to disagree with you on both counts, bardic: I would say that most people know the first verse of the Star-Spangled Banner (though that's not fact, merely my own experience) and as far as it having a melody that "no talented singers" can sing, that's patently false. Go to any highschool sports event and you'll hear any choir girl (first soprano, though mezzos can get by) sing it adequately (though perhaps not brilliantly).
posted by nonmerci at 12:52 AM on May 3, 2006


"gibberish sprinkled with question marks" - Kurt Vonnegut.

(For completeness' sake)
posted by Grangousier at 1:28 AM on May 3, 2006


All you Hungarians, I know you are out there, let's put our golden voices together for a rousing chorus:

Oh, mondd, látod-e a korai hajnali fénynél
Azt, amit oly büszkén üdvözöltünk az alkony utolsó ragyogásánál?
Azt, amelynek széles csíkjait és fényes csillagait, a veszélyes csatában
A bástyák fölött figyeltünk, hogy oly büszkén lobog
És a rakéta vörös fénye, a bombák robbanása
Mutatta az éjben, hogy zászlónk még fenn lobog.
Oh, mondd, a csillagokkal borított lobogó még ott lebeg-e
A szabadság országa és a bátrak hona felett?


Be happy it is only Spanish....
posted by zaelic at 2:00 AM on May 3, 2006


Somebody's gotta sing it in Arabic now.
posted by furiousthought at 2:22 AM on May 3, 2006


The Yiddish Radio Project presents a compelling argument for translating the Star Spangled Banner (AKA the Star Spengld Bener) into an immigrant's native languge. (warning, RAM sound file, presented with translation from Yiddish courtesy of the Yid-o-Matic English Translator!)
posted by zaelic at 2:24 AM on May 3, 2006


Mr. Alexander,

I am a Tennessee resident ... I am writing to tell you that I believe that your resolution that the National Anthem only be sung in English is preposterous and sadly misplaced. How do propose enforcing an English only version? Would you propose that it be a felony to sing it in a language such as Lakota or Navajo? Your Senate resolution is simply pandering to the xenophobia that is arising in the current immigration debate.

I do agree with you that more needs to be done in the name of national unity. I am also of the opinion that if people are going to immigrate to the United States and call this country their home, there are necessary adjustments to be made. But, that is true for any expatriate regardless of what country he is moving to. Learning English, or at least attempting to do so, is obviously important for people coming to the United States. However, insisting that the National Anthem be sung in English is not a very effective means of encouraging people to learn the English language. In fact, it would seem to ultimately result in people entrenching themselves more in their own ways and, ultimately, not seeking to integrate. Many communities in the US have been very good at integrating only into the commercial fiber of this country while maintaining a cultural barrier. Your proposal will not change such trends. A much more focused and honest effort would be necessary for people to want to learn our principles as you say.

And, quite frankly, whether people sing the National Anthem in Swahili, Thai or any other tongue does not change much. There are plenty of foreigners fighting for our country in Iraq as I write you this letter. If they were to choose to hum the American National Anthem to themselves in their native language on the battlefield, would you object?

I am not sure if you speak any other languages, though I do know first hand that Tennessee public schools do a remarkably poor job in providing language education to their students. Language is a vector of communication. If the Spanish speaking community wants to express their pride in America by singing the National Anthem in Spanish, the rest of America should be sophisticated enough not to take it as an offense or a threat. Do you not think that this community is trying to send a message to the rest of the country saying “yes, we are unified with you – or at least we want to be?” You are wrong to think that singing our National Anthem in another language implies any sort of fundamental discord - unless that discord is the sound of the disharmony of your own intolerance.

You stated on television tonight that the United States is an exception in that we are unified by ideas, unlike other countries that are united by race, tribe or ancestry. I seriously hope that this statement is just an attempt at politics, because it is dangerous generalization. As you are a former president of the University of Tennessee and former Harvard professor of government, you are certainly aware that most all modern nation states struggle with defining their national identity. I must say, it is a disservice to the American public to make such simplistic claims on national television. It is no wonder we have a reputation around the world of being ignorant as to the affairs of others. Most every modern nation state is composed of quite a few different groups of people and each state attempts to have some sort of national idea – from China, to Ghana, to Surinam(a South American country who's 37 percent majority group is of North Indian, Hindu origin and where the official language is Dutch), to Madagascar (an island composed of eighteen different ethnic groups of both African and Asian origin). Many states have two or three official languages. In Tanzania people are unified by both English and Swahili which most people understand, and yet there are many more languages spoken in the country. How would it undermine national unity to translate and sing their national anthem “Mungu ibariki Afrika” from Swahili to Masai?

Language obviously serves to unify a country, but I believe you are mistaking yourself for Richelieu in making your proposal. I don’t think you are going to win any hearts and minds by trying to impose English on people in this way.

There are much bigger "fish to fry" in the field of immigration. Throughout Tennessee there are companies and industries benefiting from immigrant labor and doing relatively little to integrate their workers and the families of these workers into the community. We have seen the Hispanic population explode in Tennessee over the past few years. My father is a public high school teacher and he has been faced with the situation of having students in his class who speak no English. Even worse, he has been pressured by the school administration to pass these students on to the next grade because "no child should be left behind." It obviously speaks very badly for the state of our schools that people can pass from one grade to the next without speaking the language in which they are being taught. Why not put pressure on businesses who use immigrant labor to fund public English learning/American history type projects? Why not establish English teaching centers? Such proposals would seem to be ultimately much more effective than wanting the National Anthem to be sung only in English. All your proposal does is divides people even farther. Its ultimate effect is a rejection of the expression of a group of people choosing to express their pride in our country. I am left to question your real commitment to national unity.
posted by pwedza at 3:44 AM on May 3, 2006


I thought 'Team America' had already provided the US with a new anthem.
posted by MrMustard at 6:01 AM on May 3, 2006


We could just use the East German national anthem since they're not using it any more:
Hail, hail East Germany
Land of fruit and grape
Land where you'll regret
If you try to escape
No matter if you tunnel under or take a running jump at the wall
Forget it, the guards will kill you, if the electrified fence doesn't first.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:35 AM on May 3, 2006


"Last night, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) appeared on the O’Reilly Factor to discuss his nonbinding resolution to 'remind the country why we sing our National Anthem in English.' Here’s what he said:
We have the common principles that we debate here in the Senate. We have our common language, English. And we ought to encourage it, not undercut it.
But back in 1995, Alexander was singing a different tune. He even attacked former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) for supporting an 'English only' policy:
GOP Presidential hopeful Lamar Alexander lambasted Sen. Robert Dole Wednesday night saying that the senator 'showed no respect' for Hispanics when Dole hinted that the U.S. should move towards an 'English only' policy. Alexander, campaigning in Puerto Rico for the first time, said he was a 'staunch' supporter of bilingual education and urged Hispanic parents to allow their children to learn two languages. 'My dream is that every child in America grows up learning two languages,' the former governor of Tennessee said. [Associated Press, 9/13/95]
¿Como se dice 'shameless pander' en español?"

[Think Progress | May 03, 2006]
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on May 3, 2006


ericb, there's nothing contradictory about supporting bilingual education and at the same time recognizing and supporting the idea of a national language. See, e.g., pretty much every European country.
posted by JekPorkins at 2:21 PM on May 3, 2006


The Yiddish Radio Project presents a compelling argument for translating the Star Spangled Banner (AKA the Star Spengld Bener) into an immigrant's native languge. (warning, RAM sound file, presented with translation from Yiddish courtesy of the Yid-o-Matic English Translator!)

More on the 2 Yiddish versions from the Forward: ... But as one might expect in a country built by immigrants, this was hardly the first time the national anthem has been translated into another tongue. The song has given rise to German, French, Chinese, Native American and even Yiddish versions.

In fact, there have been at least two Yiddish renditions. ...
Far from being a refusal to learn a new language, such translations are instead an expression of gratitude toward an open and hospitable land.

posted by amberglow at 10:19 AM on May 6, 2006


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