Friday, June 17, 2011

A Stupid Argument

Belatedly in honor of Flag Day (lolflagday) or very early in honor of the Fourth of July or perhaps just in honor of reasonable patriotism at any time of the year, I would like to present a defense of the American (U.S.-ian, if you will) National Anthem. Perhaps it is just in the Washington Post, which for all its respectability tends to publish rather incendiary editorials, but last month -- or perhaps earlier; around the time when Christina Aguilera apparently forgot the words to the anthem whilst singing it -- out poured a vocal group of people railing against the National Anthem. "It's too hard to sing!" they roared, "It glorifies violence!" "It's outdated and wasn't even that good to begin with!" others insisted.

Of course they're entitled to their opinions. Yet they annoy me because they tend to be the nit-picky types who fancy themselves to be clever although they are mostly just obnoxious. And, you know, I may not get paid for this and I may not have thousands of subscribers but I am still going to rebut their argument, gosh darn it. This will be short as it's a stupid debate to begin with and thus does not require much thought:

Firstly, people rarely sing the National Anthem. They tend to shout it. Go to any sporting event and you will see this is true. The people who have to actually sing the anthem are people who are supposed to be good at singing already; thus, the difficulty of the song -- which isn't even that difficult, if you don't add on all the annoying bells and whistles, which everyone does but nobody should -- should not pose a problem. Secondly, the American public generally does not have a problem with the anthem. I admit that I feel a swell of patriotic pride whenever I hear it played, especially when I'm with a large group of fellow Americans (or, really, anybody who likes the USA enough to stand around and listen to the anthem), and I suspect that most of my fellow citizens feel the same way. Also, like, good luck trying to change it -- you're definitely, absolutely going to get shot down as a devil-worshiping America-hating fascist. (Don't worry that the insult doesn't make sense. People just like to get angry.) Thirdly, maybe it's not the best song ever written, but it's a hell of a lot better than many of the state anthems. Take Maryland for example, whose state anthem is essentially a southern-sympathizing, anti-north, pro-slavery Civil War relic. It's not so much the fact that it was made the state song that's the problem... it's that it was made the state song in 1939. And nobody has changed it since then -- in fact, there's opposition to altering the lyrics on the basis of 'preserving state history.' Right, because the state song -- which nobody even knows, may I point out -- is the most important place to preserve the racist history of a state that never even joined the Confederacy. Oh, Maryland.

(I feel sometimes that I come across as super pro-American on this blog, which isn't really true in my general life. This is mostly because whilst I normally freely admit the many flaws in the workings of my home country, I still feel quite an affinity for it, and the annoyance at hearing people going on and on and on about how terrible the USA as if all other countries are perfect builds up over time and eventually provokes me to the point where I am driven to post a rant about it over here. Lucky you!)

P.s. I'm not well versed in the national anthems of other countries, but I must admit that I love "God Save the Queen" (or King) despite the fact that I'm quite indifferent towards the British monarchy. I quite like the Canadian anthem as well. Let song unite us all, etc. etc.


Rena said...

It appears we have rival state songs. Yours is anti-north, and mine (spends two verses going on about the landscape, and then) talks about how we basically won the war for the north. (Lincoln, etc.)

Alex said...

There are state songs?!? I had no idea (also don't know why this feels groundbreaking). I don't think we have a provincial anthem. *looks* Nope.

I like the Canadian anthem but I'm not too familiar with the American one. I know about the first line.

I definitely have heard the American anthem hate, though, and I can see how it would get frustrating. People can complain if they desire but hyping up the problem does not help your case.

I usually like anthems when they are sung by regular people rather than celebrities. Performers will have they own spin on it and I just want to plain, pretty version that everyone can recognize.