Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Star Spangled Banner: Spanish Version

Americans are generally terribly divided, so it’s nice to see some agreement for a change. Regardless of positions on guest worker programs, felonizing illegal immigration, and the like, nearly everyone seems to be in agreement that the new Spanish-language version of America’s national anthem is inappropriate, even outrageous. So it’s nice to see a consensus.

Unfortunately, the consensus is insane.

All over the world attitudes toward America are the most negative they’ve ever been. America is feared, vilified, and branded as arrogant and hypocritical (thanks George). Generally speaking, few people are waving American flags and looking to America as an ideal. But against this tide, a number of Spanish speakers translate our anthem into Spanish and begin honoring America by playing it on Spanish-language radio.

How can this be outrageous? I suppose that some Mexican patriots might find it traitorous (to Mexico) but how can American “patriots” object? If people around the world were singing “The Star Spangled Banner” in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Esperanto, binary code, or anything else, would this be offensive?

It’s completely understandable that people around the world are disillusioned with America – it’s largely the result of the egregious and unAmerican policies of the Bush administration. Pre-emptive war on false grounds, arrest and imprisonment without counsel or trial, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, torture… real felonies that should make everyone sick (yes, thanks George!) But this isn’t – I hope – the future of America, but just the policies of one criminal administration. And that, I think, is what the Spanish language version of the anthem is about – admiration for the principles of America, and the opportunities they provide. That’s also something I understand. And I wish that this were more common… and not just among non-Americans.

Oh, sure, immigrants to America should learn to speak English. English should be declared the sole official language of the U.S. But that's an entirely different issue. If someone wants to sing the praises of America, let them do it, in any language, in every language. Pseudo-patriots may protest, but real American patriots will join in.

just so you know, the nat'l anthem wasn't translated. entirely new lyrics were written, the final result being a really sickening piece of tripe about 'having a right to work' and it was just, just terrible. really. very very sentimental and nauseating and bad.
Thanks for your comment.

"Right to work" is unclear, but in this context it makes sense. The state has no legitimate role deciding who does and doesn't have permission to work. In fact, the right to choose to trade one's own labor for payment is one of the most basic of the natural rights.

The state isn't being asked to provide jobs for the unemployed, which is a different interpretation of the "right to work."

As for writing new lyrics to this grand song, well, that calls for a whole new post itself!
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