Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Star-Mangled Banner

Even the casual reader of TPS knows we tend to wrangle a lot over the issue of illegal immigration. Perhaps the only consensus one could gather from our debates is that we are all over the map when it comes to finding a workable solution, or whether a solution is even necessary. I am hoping, however, that a consensus can be reached on this latest phase of illegal alien-induced madness: Nuestro Himno, the so-called Spanish version of our National Anthem.

There are so many things wrong with this endeavor that I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps the most natural starting point is to ask why there is even a need for a Spanish-language translation of The Star-Spangled Banner. Whether legal or illegal, there are far too many people living in the United States who do not speak English, in large part because there has been virtually no emphasis on assimilation over the last thirty years. (That is not to say that some Hispanics not born in the United States have not assimilated or attempted to do so, but of the millions who were not born in the United States, the statistics -- were there any -- would be striking.) The net result is functional illiteracy.

This equation becomes substantially more lopsided when you realize that the supermajority of non-English-speaking Hispanics in the United States today are illegal aliens -- in other words, individuals who broke our laws by entering the United States and continue to break our laws merely by being here. Depending on who you believe (or trust), there are anywhere from 10 million to 25 million illegal aliens in the United States at present, with the largest segments coming from Mexico and Central America. It therefore follows that the vast majority of these illegals speak Spanish and only Spanish.

In a sane world, illegal aliens' functional illiteracy would be a tool with which the leaders of this nation would essentially drive the illegals back from whence they came. Since, however, (a) our world is insane and (b) we have no true leaders, the response over the last thirty years has been one of capitulation. Federal, state, and local governments have printed signs and forms in foreign languages. Whereas the pressure to comprehend and communicate in American English was once the dynamo of assimilation, the above capitulative surrender has essentially guaranteed both a near-total lack of assimilation and a continued influx of the unassimilating.

But back to the song. In light of the above, Nuestro Himno would be bad enough if it was just a straight-up, verbatim translation of The Star-Spangled Banner. It would just be part of the tragic progression away from America's one language and unified populace, one sad chapter amidst other recent ones. What makes Nuestro Himno all the more enraging to me as an American and amateur historian is that it is not the same song at all. It is a pseudo-marxist rewrite of one of the most noteworthy and powerful songs in American history.

Given the decline of America's educational system over the last few decades, I am not going to assume that people know the significance of The Star-Spangled Banner's actual lyrics. You can take my (and Wikipedia's) word for the following: (a) it was written by Francis Scott Key (1779-1843); (b) it was originally written as a poem during the War of 1812, America's first major war as a unified nation; (c) its literal account of the large American flag that survived the Brits' bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in 1814 was intended to symbolize the strength of the recent union of states and the hope of a fledgling nation; and (d) after more than a century of recognition as America's unofficial national anthem, it was formally made so by Congress in 1931. Its actual lyrics (and accompanying music in MIDI format -- don't worry, it can be paused) can be found here. (You should know at least the first stanza. If you don't, you should be ashamed of yourself. The other stanzas are lesser known, but no less potent, or important.)

Nuestro Himno cannot even be seriously called a variation on a theme. It is, in plainest terms, an entirely separate song that has neither connection to the original song nor any relevance whatsoever to American history. It is a revisionist pile of slop.

Its nauseating lyrics, courtesy of New York's Daily News, are as follows:

Verse 1

The day is breaking, do you see it? In the light of the dawn?
What we so acclaimed at nightfall?
Its stars, its stripes, flew yesterday
In the fierce battle in a sign of victory,
The glow of battle, in step with liberty
At night they said: "It's being defended!"


Chorus

Oh say!
The voice of your starry beauty
is still unfolding
Over the land of the free
The sacred flag.


Verse 2

Its stars, its stripes,
Freedom, we are equal
We are brothers, in our anthem.
In the fierce combat in a sign of victory
The glow of battle, in step with liberty
My people keep fighting
It's time to break the chains
At night they said: "It's being defended!"
Oh say!
Your starry beauty is still unfolding.


Ugh.

The only positive I can see coming from Nuestro Himno, and the attention it is now receiving, is that Americans are becoming more and more infuriated over the arrogant strutting of the illegal alien community and its strident supporters in the United States -- which, with any luck, might actually lead to a firmer policy against illegal immigration, and a backlash agains the brain-dead politicians who embrace illegal immigration as an eventual electoral boon. (Even a (recently) politically tone-deaf George W. Bush was forced to acknowledged the absurdity of the song and call for non-English-speaking peoples to learn English -- a call that has absolutely no value whatsoever in light of the president's complete and total abdication on the illegal immigration issue.)

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