Anthem

There’s been a lot of buzz concerning a Spanish version of the U.S. national anthem. Like an electric field, things like this tend to strongly polarize the nation. The media seizes on this kind of thing, throws the switch, and suddenly the nation is feeling one way or the other. Even the President weighed in, saying that he felt the anthem ought to be sung in English.

I gotta say, the hypocrisy runs deep here. Two-thirds of Americans don’t know the words to the national anthem, so those people don’t get to criticize or even hold a public opinion. At least *somebody* knows the words, if in Spanish. Second, if the President starts criticizing the English of other people, he’s gotta worry about his own record (there is NO such word as “nu-cu-ler”). Third, if the U.S. anthem is supposed to only ever be sung in English, then it’s time for everybody to start reading the Bible in Greek. Or was it originally in Hebrew?

Nobody gets to dictate patriotism. That kind of defeats the purpose of people standing up to be patriotic in the first place. I applaud this attempt to popularize the anthem to a large sector of the U.S. population, legal or illegal. I’d liken it to the King James version of the Bible, which brought the Word of God into the language of the masses and connected people personally to the scriptures for the first time, taking power out of the hands of the church. I’d liken it to Galileo writing his most famous work, the Dialog on the Two Chief Systems of the World, in Italian rather than Latin, bringing science to the masses for the first time. It is the spread of meaning, in whatever language that can be used to express it, that gives power to an idea.

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