Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
May 1st, 2006


In English we trust?

While I’m not surprised at the backlash that has accompanied the debut of “Nuestro Himno”, I’m taken aback that most of the criticisms are that they’ve taken our national anthem and sung it in Spanish, Heaven forbid. The Wikipedia article on the song notes that the anthem has been adapted into at least four other languages, and that the State Department has been providing a Spanish-language rendition of it anyways. It’s not as if anyone’s being “unamerican” by singing it.

Why didn’t these naysayers make such a fuss when our flag was notoriously, shall we say, adapted:

No one has forgotten the gloating, undignified celebrations of the US sprint relay team when they won gold in Sydney four years ago. On that occasion, Maurice Greene, Bernard Williams, Brian Lewis and Jon Drummond performed a lap of honour in which they stripped off their tops, arranged themselves in ludicrous flexed-muscle poses and adorned themselves in their national flag as if they were a team of male models. The absence of humility back then clearly still rankles today.

And how’s ’bout the same people who criticize “Nuestro Himno” form a boycott of all the people who misuse the flag on a daily basis. Ever seen a pair of American flag flip-flops? Ever brushed your teeth on our flag? Ever get the feeling that our star-spangled banner is being used solely to gain your patronage?

There’s probably something to be said about uniting under one song as our anthem, but “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, right? Which would you prefer: a new generation of Americans embracing a national symbol as their own, or a new generation of marketers embracing one as a commercial gimmick?