Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Jose can you see?"

The title refers to a classic joke that really only works when told. It involves a Mexican gentleman's bad seat in a baseball game on his first visit to America. The generosity of the stadium in asking him "Jose, can you see?" overwhelmed him.

Other Americans are less generous. Representative Jim Ryun waded into the idiotic argument over foreign language translations of the national anthem:
Rep. Ryun stated, “Our nation was built on the belief that all citizens have the freedom to say what they believe, to pray the way they want to, and to live their lives without the government infringing on these rights. But just because some things can be said – or sung in different ways, does not mean they should.”

“The citizens of this great land do not share common ancestry nor do we share common race or origin, but what we do share is our common language and common belief in the principles of the United States. With appreciation for our varied backgrounds, keeping our National Anthem in English protects one of the few remaining symbols that unite us,” Ryun continued.
This is in support of a resolution he's co-sponsoring which would affirm that the Pledge of Allegiance, the anthem and the Oath of Allegiance be spoken in English.

It's worth noting first of all that this is a bit dependent on terminology. If the Anthem as defined is a set of words English sung to a given tune, then singing a version in Spanish (as people did at Bush campaign events in 2000) would not, by definition, be singing the national anthem. It would simply be singing a song with the same tune and lyrics in a different language. The same goes for the Oath and the Pledge.

But let's broaden this to a less literal point. Ryun is right that we share a common set of principles, and the various pledges, oaths and anthems at issue are meant to represent that. And liberty, libertad and liberté all express the same idea. Restricting people from expressing their allegiance to this nation and its ideals in their native tongue is an attack on those same ideals. These translations, whether to Spanish, Yiddish, German, French, Polish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, etc., are heartfelt expressions of love for this nation. This resolution, like Senator Roberts' version in the Senate, is arrogant, fool-hardy, and un-American.

Rep. Ryun should be ashamed of himself. With all that's troubling this nation, to waste time expressing disapprobation about what language someone uses to honor the nation is a practically criminal waste.