Tuesday, May 2, 2006

La Bandera de las Estrellas

After last week’s hoo-ha about the Spanish version of The Star-Spangled Banner in which the president got to hold forth on his linguistic preferences and tick off the Hispanic community, it turns out that the U.S. government commissioned a Spanish-language version of the national anthem… in 1919.

The right wing is up in arms over a new version of the Star-Spangled Banner written in Spanish. Last week President Bush stated that “the national anthem ought to be sung in English.” Yesterday Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a resolution requiring the Star-Spangled banner to be sung only in English:

That flag and that song are a part of our history and our national identity. … That’s why in 1931 Congress declared the Star-Spangled Banner our national anthem. That’s why we should always sing it in our common language, English.

In his press release, Alexander said the Star-Spangled Banner has “never before…been rendered in another language.”

But in 1919, the U.S. Bureau of Education commissioned a Spanish-language version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The State Department’s website also features four-separate versions of the anthem in Spanish.

It appears xenophobia isn’t part of the American tradition.

I wonder how that would play in New Mexico. When the state was admitted to the union in 1912, one of the stipulations was that Spanish have equal footing with English for official state business. Therefore, the resolution would be invalid in that state.

Bese mi ardilla, Senator.