May 3, 2006


Administration Is Singing More Than One Tune on Spanish Version of Anthem (Peter Baker, May 3, 2006, Washington Post)

President Bush declared last week that the national anthem should be sung in English not Spanish, but he evidently never told his own government or campaign organizations.

The State Department posts four Spanish versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on its Web site, and accounts from the 2000 election suggest that the song was at times performed in Spanish at Bush campaign events. Critics even turned up one reference to Bush himself singing the anthem in Spanish on the trail, but there was no confirmation.

The furor over a newly released Spanish version of the anthem has underscored once again the power of symbols in American politics. At a time when the immigration debate in Washington has divided Republicans on Capitol Hill, drawn hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets and triggered a nationwide boycott, all sides are scrutinizing the words and records of the president and other politicians for signs of inconsistency.

The National Anthem in Spanish is swell, but the rewrite at issue here is a travesty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 3, 2006 12:00 AM

That's right.

A good translation of The Star-Spangleed Banner into Spanish is like a good translation of the Mazurek Dabrowskiego into English. It's good enough to convey the feeling. Phony, made-up words are just that.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 3, 2006 12:49 PM

In light of this flap, I offer evidence that immigrants have tried this seditious business before:

O sagt, ko:nnt ihr seh'n in des Morgetrots Strahl,
was so stolz wir im scheidenden Abendrot gru:ssten,
die Stirne, die Striefen, die wehend vom Wall,
im to:dtlichen Kampf uns den Anblick versu:ssten?
Hoch flattern die Fahnen in herrlicher Pracht,
beim Leuchten der Bomben durch dunkele Nacht.
O sagt, ob das Banner, mit Sternen besa:t,
u:ber'm Lande der Freien und Braven noch weht?

It is typical that this stands side by side with a song of loyalty to the Kaiser that ends: "Wir alle stehen dann / mu:tig fur einen Mann, k:ampfen und bluten gern, fu:r Thron und Reich." If this sort of thing had been nipped in the bud, doubtless Illinois would not be a German imperial colony today.

from Unser Liederbuch: Die scho:nsten Lieder fu:r Schule, Sonntagsschule, und Familie, gesammelt von E. Linder. Chicago Illinois, 1893.

Sorry about the ungainly umlauts. My HTML does not extend so far.

Posted by: dyeago at May 3, 2006 5:55 PM