Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fear-Based Nationalism, and the Spanish National Anthem...

Sigh... I have opinionated friends whom I love dearly... It's actually amazing we all get along as well as we do with so many differences! One is a fundie, one is a recovering Catholic, one is a part-time Catholic, some are wishy-washy Christians, others are--undecided, and then there's me and another atheist... Some are straight, some are gay, some are bi, but somehow it all works out in the laundry... :D

But every now and then one of the darlings sends me these forwards that I just need to... well, short of barfing, I suppose I'll just pick apart as I'm prone to over-analyzing as it is! So here it is: the e-mail that got Jason's ire... :D Of course you realize you'll end up reading it in sections, as I have to add the witty over-narration you've all come to find so cheekily adorable...

Oops! Seeing as how I can't copy and paste the e-mail, I had to find one that was almost the same, so we'll pick this apart instead, okay?

I am sorry but after hearing they want to sing the National Anthem in Spanish - enough is enough.
I didn't realize it was a law you had to sing it in English! Are we not the melting pot? Why does it matter if it's sung in other languages? Wait--did the National Anthem get canonized, and now part of some sacred spiritual revolution? Who cares if they want to sing it in Spanish--they're singing our national anthem, aren't they?

No where did they sing it in Italian, Polish, Irish (Celtic), German or any other language because of immigration.
You're right--what are the odds that no one else in the entire United States (about 300 million people) has ever sung our national anthem in another language? Perish the thought!

It was written by Francis Scott Key and should be sung word for word the way it was written.
Do you sing every single song word-for-word the way it was written? Artistic licence and creative expression are suddenly staring down the barrel of a gun! "Sing it our way, or the highway!" I wonder why so many people care about who is singing what and in what language? How does this affect the average working Joe?

The news broadcasts even gave the translation -- not even close.
So at this point I attempted to find a translation for the national anthem into Spanish...

But it was all in Spanish... go figure. Of course there is never a true translation from one language to another, so you take the closest-meaning word--and how is this desecrating to the national anthem? I don't get it... Do people really expect a word-for-word, meaning-for-meaning translation? I thought you didn't want it sung in Spanish to begin with! Why the worry about the semantics now?

Sorry if this offends anyone but this is MY COUNTRY - IF IT IS YOUR COUNTRY SPEAK UP ---- please pass this along~
The hell I will! It's my country too! And guess what? It's also the home of a lot of Spanish speakers! This is another case of "majority" going to people's heads. "There are more of us than there are of you, so do it our way!" I'll speak up, but not in agreement with this--is it xenophobia? I think it is funny how Americans (I am a citizen by the way) think this is "our" land. Let's see... how did we get it again? Oh, that's right! We killed the natives, forced them to speak English and convert to Christianity, and then we fenced them off to die... Then we created laws saying it is "ours," and that we can pick and choose who can and can not enter "our" land like the narcissists that we are. Our forefathers stole this land. And like many thieves, we will do anything to keep what we rightfully stole, won't we?

Everybody knows the national anthem is in English, and I truly don’t think this gesture, this translating of the lyrics, is in any way meant to supplant the English version. I think it is a compliment, actually, that it is in Spanish too. Of course, the real kicker here is that so many are "outraged" about the translation of a song based, on all things, an old British drinking song. God bless America indeed... Oh, and pass the Scotch...

I am not against immigration -- just come through like everyone else. Get a sponsor; have a place to lay your head; have a job; pay your taxes, live by the rules AND LEARN THE LANGUAGE as all other immigrants have in the past -- and GOD BLESS AMERICA!
"Be like the French--force a language on the people!" Hehehe, and I know how much the right loves to hate the French... But that's for another day. Most of them do learn the language. (See here for just one recent study...) By the third generation here in the U.S., most U.S. citizens can't speak the language of their grandparents! But, I suppose since that doesn't sound as scary, we ignore that...

Think about this: If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone-----YOU'RE PART OF THE PROBLEM !!!!
It isn't about offending someone--at least, not for the most part. It's about not being a fear-driven, flag-waving, patriotic nutball so concerned with white-bread America I can't handle a hint of diversity, let alone our anthem sung in another language! Who cares? Are we that insecure with our "national identity"? Do we have an "American culture"? Yes--but only as long as we remain the free, open country we always have been--I mean, what's next? A ban on Chi-Chi's? Taco Bell? Much like the fad of "freedom fries" (one of the stupidest things to ever get started), are we going to call them "liberty-challadas"? "Freedom Fajitas"? Ohh, that one might sound "too Spanish." Please...

Will we still be the Country of choice and still be America if we continue to make the changes forced on us by the people from other countries that came to live in America because it is the Country of Choice??????
I'm sorry--are they trying to pass a law declaring "Spanish" as the national language? This type of fear-based "freedom losing" is exactly the type of thing that will make this not a "country of choice," not some immigrants, whether illegal or not, sing our national anthem in Spanish...

Think about it!
Why? Whoever started this insane diatribe of fear certainly didn't!

All we have to say is, when will they do something about MY RIGHTS?
And what rights of yours have exactly been infringed upon? Come on, I'm waiting--lemme see the list...

We've gone so far the other way, bent over backwards to not offend anyone, that I am now being offended. But it seems that no one has a problem with that.
Hell, be offended! I'm still unsure why you feel so offended... What harm has someone singing the national anthem in Spanish caused you again? What "rights" have you had to give up?

This says it all! This is an editorial written by an American citizen, published in a Tampa newspaper. He did quite a job; didn't he? Read on, please!
This should be rich... Here's the article that "says it all":

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However...... the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct! " crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.
Yeah, I'm sorry for being a bad patriot by wanting to make sure we didn't round up all the Muslim's, much like we did the Japanese immigrants during WWII... I'm sorry that I wanted everyone treated with dignity and respect, and didn't want people shipped off to camps to be treated like dirt. I'm sorry I wanted to uphold the "innocent until proven guilty" clause of our Constitution--how unAmerican of me! I apologize that your fear outweighs your common sense, and that you're willing to trade your freedoms for security--really, what could I, an unabashed liberal, be thinking?!

But the idiocy continues, believe it or not:

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of America being a multi cultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity.
Uhh, it has? It what ways? Please be specific... Can anyone point to data, statistics, or even practical examples as to how "our identity" has been "diluted" and our "sovereignty" and "national identity" have been placed at risk? I'm extremely curious!

As Americans.....we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.
Freedom for everyone, I'll remind you--not just for the "English speakers." Our culture is an amalgamation! And it will continue to be unless we start passing laws to "protect our identity," or laws meant to "protect our culture." What kind of crap is that?

We speak ENGLISH, not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!
As pointed out earlier, they do. I'm sorry they don't pick it up overnight--most human beings aren't built that way...

"In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan.
Huh? Where the fuck did that come from? Talk about your segues!

We adopted this motto because Christian men and women.......on Christian principles............. founded this nation..... and this is clearly documented.
More revisionist history from the so-called soldiers of Christ... Want to know about "In God we trust"? It is right-wing propaganda! Here is a brief, factual history:

The motto In God We Trust was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the American Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout Christians throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize God on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, and read:
Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.
One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.
You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.
This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my heart I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.
As a result, Secretary Chase instructed James Pollock, Director of the Mint at Philadelphia, to prepare a motto, in a letter dated November 20, 1861:
Dear Sir: No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins.
You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.
It was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by Congress.
You can read a more thorough history of this right-wing propaganda tool here at Wikipedia.

But back to the idiocy:

It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home.........because God is part of our culture.
Many faiths are a part of our culture... But because you buy into the lies of the right, you think you should get some special kind of props for your religion... I suggest you read this.

If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle. Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining....... whining...... and griping.......about our flag......our pledge......our national motto.......or our way of life...I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great American Freedom....

THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.
Oh, how very, very American of you, dear author of the idiocy! Who is whiny and griping? Oh, wait, that's you. Well, but the flag... and the motto... Oh, that's right... You're trying to protect our "national identity" by invoking false history and lies... Also very American! At least, if we take the word of most of the morons in charge these days. This kind of fear-driven crap just pisses me off!

In fact, I say we go back to our original motto, one you might have huge issues with, as it speaks to the very core of your fear, dear author of the idiocy: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

And as soon as we start saying who can or can't be "one," what those "ones" have to say, what to speak, whom to pray to...

We'll no longer be Americans...

Our independence was founded on one very simple statement: That all men are created equal. Not just the ones who look like us, or speak like us, or worship like us, or even just the ones who live in this land. ALL MEN. But as long as you think you are somehow better than others because of where your mother just happened to spew you forth from her vagina, you will never truly understand what that statement means, or what it stands for...

7 comments:

Kyle said...

That's a great post Jason, you say a lot of smart things here. I'd also add to your comments-- the national anthem already IS available in Spanish, in fact there's been a Spanish version since 1918! The US government itself commissioned a Spanish national anthem at the time as the latest (then) in a long series of indications of respect, toward the Latino people of the USA who had been absorbed into the country's borders since the Mexican War and the Spanish-American War.

Which leads to another point-- especially in the US Southwest, as well as in Florida and Puerto Rico, Spanish *is* one of the original languages of the country. More so even than English-- Spanish predates English by centuries here, the language of the cities at their founding, and it's been in continuous use for 500 years in many places. That's why, in the treaties following the Florida, Mexican and Spanish-American Wars, Spanish was given recognition by treaty and law as an equal language to English "in the public square"-- governments, schools, libraries, offices, professional enterprises have written and spoken Spanish equally. That's why the federal government itself commissioned the Spanish national anthem in 1918.

I've been in Arizona, California and Texas for many years, and the vast majority of people-- non-Latinos included-- speak Spanish and don't make a fuss about it. Using Spanish is as American as baseball and the 4th of July, as one of the original US languages, Spanish is a language that demands respect in public discourse.

Es una idioma para todo el mundo aqui y debe ser usado para todos propositos importantes. Y es facil de aprender!

I've used this argument myself with lots of opinionated (but not so well-educated) Americans who think that "the language of America is English." No, it isn't-- it's not the official, national or even common language. And where historical precedent is used to define a common language, English is only one of them-- Spanish has just as much of a claim, in fact in St. Augustine, Santa Fe and other places, Spanish is the *oldest* of the European languages in the United States. So it's earned the right to be considered an equal with English, certainly in the states where the historical tradition has made it the original language before English even came along.

Darkmind said...

Well, if you want to talk about historical precident, Spanish or even languages like Amerind which is the progenitor language of all the native American languages (and dates back about 13,000 years) don't hold a candle to grunts and hand gestures. And that is a language I think we apparently all seem to know, what with all the screaming and waving the finger... So here is a translation of the national anthem into the earliest language spoken in the US. Note that the items in parenthesis are to be acted out, not spoken:

(Stand at the border of the country with red and white stripes of mud adorning your face and torso, as well as your blue beadwoven bandana and loincloth and wait for someone to wander up. Then sing:)
AAAAAAAAGH!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!! WOOOOOOOOT!! GAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!
GAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! WAAAAAAAAH!! GRAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!
(Make a mad face and stomp the ground. Wave fists or a spear if available, while singing the following chorus)
GAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! AAAAAAARRGH!!! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYA!!! WOOOOOOOOOOT!!!
(Puff out the chest, widen the eyes as much as possible. If the 'intruder' has not run away, repeat anthem at a higher volume, preferably with the aid of your countrymen.)

Jason Hughes said...

Why thank you, Kyle! Aren't you a dear! :D

I never knew about the 1918 commission of the anthem in Spanish! It's amazing how little is left out of these chain "patriotic" emails! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

And Darkind--LOL!!! All I picture now is a cavemen jumping up and down very Braveheart style... LOL!

FCSuper said...

My favorite patriotic song is from South Park's movie "Blame Canada!"

Spanish is important to our country's heritage, but not so important that it should take equal footing with English. I've seem some pretty silly arguments on the promotion of Spanish, but also some ok ones. I'm not afraid of Spanish though. American English is very adaptive. English in general tends to absorb other languages rather than be uprooted by them. It is infectious. Eventually, there will be an "American" language that will be part Spanish, part Chinese, and part everything else with English as its base (just as French, Gaelic and Norse are at the base of the current language).

mindflame said...

Most Hispanics in America have lately been using a newer version of the National Anthem in Spanish. I think that this is part of the issue because the lyrics seem to be farther from the original story the song is trying to tell. My skills are really basic and so I don't have any idea about subtle issues like that.

But it is always difficult business to translate something so it goes along with music.

Actually, I am surprised you don't hate the Spanish version.

"A Dios quien nos dio paz, libertad y honor," (to God who gave us peace ,freedom and honor)

Is more emphatically religious in my opinion than.. "Praise the Power that has made us a Nation", the line it is translating.

But the "let this be our motto in God we trust" part seems to be almost word for word.

Jason Hughes said...

Mindflame, you said Actually, I am surprised you don't hate the Spanish version.

Let me be a bit clearer then: I don't hate it because it's Spanish, which was really the point, but I see what you're getting at: The Spanish version is a bit more overtly "Christian" I suppose, at least in that instance, but it's really kind of a non-issue in my opinion. Either way, a song Or a motto on a coin or whathaveyou) does not a Theocracy make, but it does show that there are those in this multi-cultural melting pot that believe in a god, while there are plenty of others who believe completely different...

After all, I didn't pick out the national anthem--I just have to listen to them singing it, and at least when it's in Spanish (at least to me personally), it sounds a whole lot prettier...

:D

Thanks for stopping by and sharing, though...

Kyle said...

That's a great post Jason, you say a lot of smart things here. I'd also add to your comments-- the national anthem already IS available in Spanish, in fact there's been a Spanish version since 1918! The US government itself commissioned a Spanish national anthem at the time as the latest (then) in a long series of indications of respect, toward the Latino people of the USA who had been absorbed into the country's borders since the Mexican War and the Spanish-American War.

Which leads to another point-- especially in the US Southwest, as well as in Florida and Puerto Rico, Spanish *is* one of the original languages of the country. More so even than English-- Spanish predates English by centuries here, the language of the cities at their founding, and it's been in continuous use for 500 years in many places. That's why, in the treaties following the Florida, Mexican and Spanish-American Wars, Spanish was given recognition by treaty and law as an equal language to English "in the public square"-- governments, schools, libraries, offices, professional enterprises have written and spoken Spanish equally. That's why the federal government itself commissioned the Spanish national anthem in 1918.

I've been in Arizona, California and Texas for many years, and the vast majority of people-- non-Latinos included-- speak Spanish and don't make a fuss about it. Using Spanish is as American as baseball and the 4th of July, as one of the original US languages, Spanish is a language that demands respect in public discourse.

Es una idioma para todo el mundo aqui y debe ser usado para todos propositos importantes. Y es facil de aprender!

I've used this argument myself with lots of opinionated (but not so well-educated) Americans who think that "the language of America is English." No, it isn't-- it's not the official, national or even common language. And where historical precedent is used to define a common language, English is only one of them-- Spanish has just as much of a claim, in fact in St. Augustine, Santa Fe and other places, Spanish is the *oldest* of the European languages in the United States. So it's earned the right to be considered an equal with English, certainly in the states where the historical tradition has made it the original language before English even came along.