Friday, April 28, 2006

Our national soul, and other musings

Reading the most recent ramblings from President Bush made me cringe in embarrassment. The thought that this man represents us as the American President is just mortifying.

Bush Says Anthem Should Be in English is the headline of the story I read. Reading the quotes from the President is like watching a high speed train wreck in slow motion. Check out this Presidential foo puffery:
"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," the president exclaimed. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."
I'm certain that while he was saying this that Bush thought he sounded profound and intelligent. Upon seeing this in the written word however, I'm left with one simple question. What in the world is our President smoking these days?

The Presidents statement is loftily worded but entirely bereft of meaning. What exactly does the President mean when he talks about America not losing our "national soul"? Do nations have souls, and if they do does having a debate jeopardize it? It seems to me that if nations do have souls, that Americas soul is steeped in debate. Debate is central to whatever it is that America stands for or it's soul if you will. Historically debate need not be polite in order for America's greatness to continue flourishing.

I would contend that if America does have a soul that this administration has contributed mightily to it's condemnation by ok'ing the torture of human beings in our control. This one policy change by this administration single handedly reversed over 230 years of American military custom. This single policy shift is responsible for one of the greatest stains on our collective national honor in history. What has that decision done to our collective soul mr. decider?

What has your policy shift from no first use of nuclear weapons, and towards pre-emptive war done to our national soul Mr. President? We seemed to do fine with policies set for sixty odd years that led our nation to a position of sole global predominance. Yet now Mr. Bush comes riding into town and decides to change the basic security policies carried forth by many consecutive Presidents that proved so successful, leads us into a nightmare in Iraq based upon this cowboy attitude, and now seems to be preoccupied with making the same exact mistake in Iran. Yet Bush is so concerned about our national soul because of debate. Pick the log from your own eye before concerning yourself over the mote in our nations eye Mr. President.

Enough about the nations soul. Let us examine the Presidents contention that we have all sorts of different people in all different walks of life bound as one nation under God. As is typical of the man, the President seems intent on dividing us rather than uniting us. The very nature of the proclamation that we are bound as a nation under God excludes those citizens who do not believe in God. I believe we are one nation bound under freedom. Let those citizens who do not believe in God, or believe in a different God than President Bush worships, enjoy their place in America free from the religious pressure inherent with the sentiments expressed by Bush.

In case you haven't noticed, President Bush is not missing any opportunity presented to him to grasp like a drowning man at every chance to cling to his rightwing Christian base. The other day he spoke about being guided by "the Almighty" in making foreign policy decisions. The President full well understands that he's lost everybody who is not strictly a rightwing faith based koolaid drinker when it comes to his presidency, and to lose that base would be the final indignity.

I could go on and on about the Presidents tortured logic on display this morning. He believes that the national anthem sung in Spanish holds less meaning than when it is sung in English. I mean... honestly. Meaning is meaning. The value of a word is the same for a person able to understand both languages the communication is spoken or sung in. The value is greatly enhanced however if a person is not able to understand the words in one language but is able to in another. Therefore, for many people, the value of the national anthem is absolutely zero when sung in English, but holds great meaning when sung in Spanish. For many English speakers the value of the anthem is meaningless when sung in Spanish for that matter. But to each group the value is what it is, and the President proclaiming that one language is preferable doesn't necessarily make that the case for everybody concerned. This seems like a basic use of logic to me, but who knows what is going on in the vacuum between Bush's ears.

I seriously get chills and goosebumps when I hear the national anthem sung well. I positively love the song. And I do not speak any other language but English. However I for one would be positively thrilled if the anthem would be translated and sung in many many languages. Let freedom ring! In all languages... and do not begrudge those who do not speak your tongue the simple pleasure of expressing the anthem as they understand it.

This whole issue is not about singing the National Anthem in Spanish. It is not about the clumsy articulation of the "The Decider" as Bush trys to play to the patriotic chords of his core supporters. Too little and too late for the President.

I'll ATTEMPT to explain why I am bothered by the release of the Anthem translated in Spanish. It is not the fact that the anthem is translated and sung in Spanish. I applaud that. As you mentioned, if singing it in their first language helps them grasp the concepts, then that's a very good thing. Your point that debate does not need to be polite is well taken however, you'll do better using honey as bait rather than vinegar as they say.

This timing and musical callobaration smacks of "In Your Face" politics. It is amid protests of immigrants allegedy desiring to be a part of the American dream yet, they start their protests waving Mexican national flags....until more sophisticated advice arrived. It comes about when people are insisting that those breaking the law can basically run rough shod over our legal system and drain American wealth because these law breakers are somehow entitled to it.

I can't blame a native to Mexico to have a desire to better conditions for their family. I would think similarly. It is why I so admire those willing to do what it takes to legally enter and obtain citizenship or just plain work visas. That I understand.

What I don't understand are those that disgrace the law abiding immigrants, drain our resources, fill our jails, all while figuratively giving America the "Finger".

So if you translate our National Anthem because you appreciate the American view of freedom, I can only admire you. I welcome you to America. If you do so just to throw your will in our faces....when you refuse to assimilate and insist that Americans conform to your will.....well, my first instinct tells me to return that vulgar gesture.
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