April 30, 2006

Jose, Can You See?


From The Times Online: Briton behind anthem that enraged Bush.

A BRITISH record producer who started his career as a tea-boy in a London studio has emerged as the man behind a Spanish-language version of The Star-Spangled Banner, America’s national anthem, that has upset President George W Bush.

Adam Kidron, 46, released Nuestro Himno -- Our Anthem -- on Friday as a gesture of support for Hispanic immigrants. He has outraged rightwingers who complain that the Spanish version's new lyrics are confrontational, and that immigrants do not make enough effort to learn English. ...

One of the Spanish lines -- sung by a Latin star named Pitbull -- translates as: "My people keep fighting/ It's time to break the chains." ...

His idea for a revised national anthem came when a Republican congressman declared on television that illegal immigrants ought to be kicked out. ...

"I suppose I had a faint idea that if you do something a bit different, someone always complains," he said. "But it just seemed really cool to do something that was artful, emotional and, to some extent, patriotic.”

Instead, Kidron’s New York office was flooded with hate mail complaining that he was demeaning the national anthem and discouraging immigrants from embracing American culture. As the US television networks scrambled to book him for interviews he said: "I'm afraid we may be stoking prejudice. We don’t seem to be much of a cultural bridge."

I can sympathize with this guy's disgust at the law passed by the House that would make felons of illegal immigrants. I'm for open immigration, that is, I'm against immigration quotas. But I can think of few things more divisive than changing an adopted country's national anthem. But this is what happens when one looks at the immigration issues through racial/nationalistic lenses. If the guy had made merely a Spanish translation of the American national anthem, that would be one thing -- maybe some immigrants could learn about America (the overriding goal being assimilation to America's individualists values). But to alter the lyrics to have different meanings (e.g., "my people," "Our Anthem") is the exact opposite of what should be done.

Posted by Forkum at April 30, 2006 04:06 PM