Debate is heating up over whether the Star-Spangled Banner should be sung in other languages. Cultural conservatives in the Senate have introduced a bill that would require the national anthem be sung in English only. The impetus for this reactionary measure came when a group of noted recording artists including Haitian musician Wyclef Jean put together a Spanish language version of the song.

    Reason Magazine editor-in-chief, Nick Gillespie recently appeared on Fox's O'Reilly Factor, debating the issue with Senator Lamar Alexander, a proponent of the bill. Gillespie was attacked by a legion of O'Reilly fans who branded him a turncoat, a "WOP," and–of all things–a Communist.

    One of Gillespie's strongest points– and where my argument against the bill ultimately rests– is the fact that singing the Star Spangled Banner is clearly a form of political speech, and as such should not be regulated by the government.

    It's important that we don't confuse issues here. Whether we should adopt a policy that would enstate an official language for our national anthem is a separate issue from how we ought handle immigration policy. I will be the first to admit that immigration is a thorny issue; we don't know the "right" number of immigrants for the United States' economy. At the end of the day, it comes down to a matter of developing a policy that recognizes we are all immigrants and as such opens the borders, but only as much as we can sustain economically and politically. And this is certainly not an easy task. But suffice it to say, allowing people to sing our national anthem does not spell the "end" of American culture. Indeed, it's far from it: it's really the beginning of the expansion of America's values and its way of life.

Daniel Corbett

*It might be of interest to this discussion that the Star Spangled Banner was already translated into Spanish in 1919 by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Apparently the government felt it worth their efforts to translate the song themselves nearly 100 years ago.

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