Thursday, June 08, 2006

Oh-way ay-say an-cay you-way ee-say . . .

[Sorry for the lateness of the post; Blogger was having some issues when I tried to post this earlier.]

I couldn’t agree more with Mark Hyman about the issue of the national anthem being sung only in English.

Hyman says not only should the anthem be translated into Spanish (and presumably sung in that language when appropriate) as well as other languages, but that we should do the same with a host of the best examples of American political rhetoric. He reasons that “Maybe if more people around the world read these great works, then maybe, just maybe, we'd see better governments emerge.”

Again, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I agree with Hyman on a deeper level than probably he even intends. The implicit assumption in his conclusion is that words and ideas are the way to transform the world, particularly when it comes to spreading the ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy. As we see on a daily basis in Iraq, invading to promote liberty, occupying to promote freedom, and killing to promote tolerance leave something to be desired, both morally and pragmatically.

The cynical side of me wonders whether or not Hyman would have editorialized in this way had President Bush not been publicly caught shaming himself by pompously declaring that the national anthem doesn’t mean the same thing when sung in Spanish, only to have it revealed that he sang the anthem in Spanish himself many times when courting Hispanic voters (therefore destroying any possibility to take the English-only argument seriously). But that doesn’t diminish the fact that Hyman is right on this one.

Unfortunately, the fact that such an issue is even taking up time being debated in the public sphere is damaging enough. It’s one of the more obvious examples of efforts of the right wing to avoid talking about issues that truly matter.

Just take a look at this week in the Senate. Rather than dealing with the umpteen real issues that affect the daily lives of Americans, we have the most august legislative assembly in the world spending time talking about non-issues covered with a patina of faux populism (flag desecration, gay marriage) or taking up issues at the behest of a handful of the uber-rich, again covered with a patina of faux populism (repeal of the estate tax).

I agree with Hyman on the issue of the national anthem. What I hope is that if he’s serious about his concern about real issues (such as his plea a couple of weeks ago for a comprehensive energy policy), he will stand up and chastise his fellow conservatives for engaging in ineffectual pandering to a sliver of their base rather than leading and doing the work of the people.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 0.75 (A new low! Huzzah!)


At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Making it illegal to sing our national anthem in other languages is just as stupid, hypocritcal (in the case of GWB, as you pointed out), and self-destructive as forcing people to be patriotic by banning flag burning.

And it's another one of these non-issues, just to divide people and give the angry base of the Republican party something to feel good about -- distrusting others.

National discourse seems to be a a low point. Your not a patriot unless you handle symbols in the way that I say you must. This is totalitarianism, not freedom, not secured freedom of expression. This is stupidity on the level of Mao's communism.

Anyone who values the meaning of the American flag should shudder at the thought of the Flag-Correct police checking your compost heap for burn flag parts. Egad.

Regarding flag burning, you'd think the ultra-pro-business Republicans would be all for flag burning, heck, mandatory flag burning. Think of the sales revenue. And it would stoke the anger and ratings of the hate-liberals media. A two-fer!

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Off topic query,

I'd like to participate in your Wurst of Hyman (ick!) poll, but could you perhaps offer a one-stop shop of just Herr Hyman's original texts?

In good conscience, I can't really vote without being an informed reader!

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Yeah, I'm gonna try to do that. Right now, I've only got a hyperlink to the Newscentral website where you can get the transcripts. I'd like to be able to have at least separate links to the different nominees, but that will take a bit of noodling over the weekend.


At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been tempted to analyze Mark's output for his various incidence rates in attacking:

John McCain (the turncoat!)
The ACLU (so damned un-american)

who else.

It is amazing how the Far Right (i.e., a good portion of the Republican Party and 90% of Talk Radio) has to have their boogeymen. It's not inconsequential. While all this stupid bickering goes on, Rome burns.

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, so Hymie just went after the ACLU again.

About time for an anti-McCain screed (even tho McCain's been doing a lotta kissing up to former enemies)


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