Where Spanish Fits in the English Language

There's a silly little debate going on a about a new, Spanish language national anthem called Nuestro Himno (you can click the link to hear it).

At a White House news conference Friday, a reporter asked W. whether he believed the anthem would have the same value in Spanish as it did in English. W. replied:

"No, I don't. I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English. And they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

W.'s right on here. The new "Spanthem" shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence as "The Star-Spangled Banner." "Nuestro Himno" veers far from the original melody and lyrics and was recorded by several popular Spanish language artists in the same mold as "We Are the World." It would be OK if "Nuestro Himno" was recorded with a "We Are the World" intention. But to call it a national anthem equivalent to the "Star-Spangled Banner?" What a joke.

Suggesting dual national anthems suggests a movement away from assimilation, which is a necessary function of immigrants trying to fully incorporate themselves into American society. Discouraging new Spanish-speaking immigrants from embracing American culture further divides English-speaking and Spanish-speaking populations in the U.S., which is of no benefit to either group.

Further, this new immigrant anthem does not even service other immigrant groups whose first language is neither English or Spanish. Should the U.S. also sport French, Chinese, and Arab language anthems as well? While we're at it, what about several versions of the American flag? -- all to make everyone feel welcome here, of course.

National communication is of the utmost importance. New immigrants should accept English as the language of national communication at the door, just like the generations of immigrants before them.

British music producer Adam Kidron, who wrote "Nuestro Himno," said he did not intend to discourage immigrants from learning English or embracing American culture:

"We instead view `Nuestro Himno' as a song that affords those immigrants that have not yet learned the English language the opportunity to fully understand the character of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' the American flag and the ideals of freedom that they represent."

OK, Adam. We'll agree to disagree. I think that assisting immigrants with learning English would both help them "understand" the "Star-Spangled Banner" more delibrately and embrace American culture more quickly.

While any form of American patriotism should be encouraged, we should draw the line when American traditions and symbols, like the anthem or flag, are misrepresented. New immigrants should be expected to assimilate to American culture the same way that immigrants have for hundreds of years, without compromising the tradition of this great country, which welcomes them.