April 28, 2006

Bush pans Spanish “Star-Spangled Banner”

By Matthew Robinson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The "Star-Spangled Banner" debuted on
Friday with new Latin beat and Spanish lyrics but it did not
win a glowing review from President George W. Bush, who said
the cherished national anthem should be sung in English.

Latin American artists recorded "Nuestro Himno" (Our
Anthem) to stir immigrants to turn out for a national boycott
and marches for rights across the country on May 1. Instead
they stirred up the ire of those who see it as further
polarizing Americans. One Internet columnist dubbed it "The
Illegal Alien Anthem."

Bush told reporters at a White House Rose Garden news
conference the anthem would not have the same value sung in

"The national anthem ought to be sung in English. And I
think people who want to be citizens of this country ought to
learn it in English. They ought to learn to sing the national
anthem in English."

The artists on the song include Gloria Trevi, Ivy Queen,
Carlos Ponce as well as Haitian American singer Wyclef Jean. It
was released through Urban Box Office.

The buildup to the May 1 immigrants' rights event has
fueled a debate that has divided Congress, the Republican
Party, and public opinion.

Conservatives want the estimated 12 million illegal
immigrants deported and a fence built along the border with
Mexico. Bush has risked the ire of his own Republican party by
supporting a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship.


The idea of translating the U.S. national anthem into
Spanish followed an April rally for immigrants in Washington
when Spanish-speakers were handed cards printed with the words
to the anthem printed in English and with a phonetic
pronunciation guide underneath.

"We wanted to teach the anthem and the Pledge (of
Allegiance), so we came up with the idea of the national anthem
in Spanish," said Juan Carlos Ruiz, the general coordinator of
the National Capital Immigration Coalition, which will receive
a portion of the proceeds from the CD the song will appear on.

"There are people who are going to attack us no matter what
we do. We want to be a part of this country," Ruiz said. "We
want to improve America."

He said the Spanish version attempts to convey the meaning
of the lyrics rather a direct translation.

"We tried to show the meaning of the song," he said. "It
has a Latin beat and a Reggaeton beat which are basically our
cultural music," Ruiz added.

Internet columnist Michelle Malkin, who has called it the
"The Illegal Alien Anthem" in blogs this week, and others
complain that that the lyrics are rewritten, adding phrases
like "We are brothers, that's our anthem."

The "Star-Spangled Banner" was written by Francis Scott Key
in 1814 during the War of 1812 with Britain and was sung to the
tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a British drinking song. It
became the national anthem in 1931.