Spanish Anthem Nothing New

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Voicing their strong opinion and flexing their united strength, thousands of Hispanic immigrants skipped work on May 1 in order to attend a nationwide protest known as ‘A Day Without Immigrants.’
With threats of sweeping immigration reform looming over the lives of millions of illegal immigrants already living in America, this type of protest shows that lives are truly at stake.
Forget your opinions about border patrol. Forget whatever xenophobic attitude you may have and simply realize that right now, millions of people are afraid for their lives, for it is this fact that matters most. While illegal immigrants did break the law, they are not criminals in a moral sense, and that is why I found it damn gratifying to see them show their humanity to the rest of the public.
Unsurprisingly, this type of action was met with extreme antagonism. Trying to slow down the economy won’t advance your cause (really?). This just shows that you don’t care about America (you don’t say?). The best protest is no protest at all, I guess.
Actually, it is the protest to the protests that I find the most ridiculous. Jingoism is a fever that has a dangerous hold on the American public.
The demonstrators on May 1 were called blackmailers. They were called criminals. Obviously, one can’t compare ‘A Day Without An Immigrants’ to the Boston Tea Party because that involved an oppressed people trying to overcome a tyrannical government. Because of all this ‘patriotism,’ even a Spanish version of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ has attracted extreme ire.
This Spanish translation, or ‘Nuestro Himno,’ is something I’d like to focus on for a bit. People are outraged by this version and are shouting that it is an American song and if you want to live in America, then you better learn it in English or get out.
I’m sure that they think this a very noble proclamation and that the Founding Fathers would agree. I’m also sure that the Founding Fathers would have been disgusted at the other non-English national anthems. Wait, what? Yes, for those of you who do not know (President Bush), Francis Scott Key’s timeless ‘purely American’ ballad has actually been translated into other languages multiple times throughout history. In 1861, the national anthem was sung in German (Ja!). Jewish immigrants translated it into Yiddish (L’Chiam!). It was even translated for those now-despised ‘traitors,’ the French (Victoire!). In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Education even wrote a Spanish version in 1919.
Why Bush recently came out as being against a Spanish national anthem is also a mystery, especially since he has used Spanish before in campaign speeches to attract the Hispanic vote. There’s even a book out, ‘American Dynasty,’ by Kevin Phillips, which states that Bush even sang the anthem in Spanish at various campaign stops.
The White House, of course, is denying these allegations. Wow, just think for a minute about what’s happening to our country, where an administration is actually disgusted by ‘accusations’ that the president sang a song in another language.
Since our government believes so strongly in the English language, perhaps they should learn to speak it themselves.
The Bush administration has been speaking a different language since 2000. I mean, let’s see what it looks like when their words are translated into English. ‘Iraq is a smoking gun’ (Translation: ‘Saddam just lit a cigar’). ‘President Bush will fire anyone who leaked CIA information’ (Translation: ‘President Bush assumes that no one leaked any CIA information’). ‘Mission accomplished’ (Translation: ‘We accomplished going to war despite extreme backlash from the rest of the world’). So you see, once Bush and his buddies learn the language themselves, then they can go around saying that everyone has to speak English.
But, to come back to my main point, protesting the protestor is ridiculous. The May 1 protest shows that even the individuals most discriminated against can take a stand and make a difference. I would actually love to see this kind of outburst from other discriminated people.
Arab-Americans are looked at with suspicion at airports, affirmative action is being threatened and lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that prevents homosexuals from getting married. There should be a nationwide upheaval of minorities of all kinds. A lot has to happen to get this country repaired.

David Syatt is a first-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at dsyatt@uci.edu.

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