Wilma, not Betty. The other Betty, not Veronica. Mets, not Yankees. And yes, we'll get there, Coke, not Pepsi.
Those were choices I made early in life and I've stuck with them all these years. Obscurer among them, until days like yesterday? "America the Beautiful" over "The Star Spangled Banner." For seven years, from kindergarten through sixth grade, Principal Church, and then Principal Mellitz, played a scratchy old (probably) 45 of that anthem through my elementary school's squawkbox speakers every morning for us to sing along to before the Pledge.
Face it. Ol' F-Scott condemned this nation to 200 years of OFF-Key:
ATB is a much better song- musically, lyrically and in terms of message. And it's not like the Founding Fathers were toe-tapping to Key's 19th century militarism, either; it didn't even become our official anthem until 1931. But, like "under God" in the Pledge and the Second Amendment in the Constitution, it's taken on a life of its own and is never going to be knocked off as our anthem no matter what Carl Lewis, Roseanne, or anyone else does to it.
Still, True Patriots appreciate the song (hey, it's got "God" in it), and it was sung twice before and during last night's Super Bowl dulltivities. Once, prior to Renee Fleming's one-for-the-ages rendition of SSB, by Queen Latifah; this caused considerable confusion in the broadcast booth when it was speculated that she may have accidentally caused a mass same-sex wedding between the Broncos and Seahawks.
But that's not the one everyone, especially the ambassadors from Wingnutistan, are talking about today. This one is:
HOW DARE THEY, cry the offended. WE CAN'T TELL THE REST OF THE WORLD, IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGES, HOW BEAUTIFUL AND GREAT OUR COUNTRY IS. IT'S A SEKRIT!
(They tend to use ALL CAPS a lot.)
Others reach back to great Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt- like disgraced Colonel and outvoted Congressman Allen West, who put this out after seeing the commercial:
[I]t started rather patriotically with the words of “America the Beautiful.” Then the words went from English to languages I didn’t recognize. Now, I know the politically correct thing is to foster multiculturalism — working really well in Europe — but we should remember the words spoken by President Teddy Roosevelt: "Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country."
... If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing “American the Beautiful” in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition.
Yeah, ex-Colonel. It's enough to make you want to point a weapon at the head of a prisoner of war. Least you were interrogating HIM in his own language.
To me, the better Dead President to invoke here is that other one named Roosevelt- who famously told us, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." And make no mistake, that's what this is all about- fear of The Other. The Big Scary that comes in colors and accents and languages we can't understand. The one that totally misreads that language on the Statue of Liberty to imply a welcoming, embracing land of opportunity; the Wests of this world would portray Lady L as pointing a submachine gun out into New York Harbor and carrying a tablet reading "KEEP OUT."
Just in English, of course.
Know what doesn't require English? Smiles. Gestures. Random acts of kindness. Ones encouraged by both Testaments that these bigots hold so dear, which they can't find time to read because they're too busy protesting languages and gay marriages.
No matter what our people sound like, they can still be our people, and love our country for the goodness and beauty that it contains. From sea to shining sea, and even including Flyover Country.
Now go have a Coke and a smile.
This entry was originally posted at http://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1874