By Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist
To translate the Holy Bible and read or recite it in a language other than Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin or any of its original forms is un-Christian.
Does that sound ridiculous to you?
The notion that singing the National Anthem in Spanish is un-American is also ridiculous. Some people may not like it and I can understand why, but does that make it anti-American, particularly when you take into account that a good part of English comes from Latin, which is the basis for Spanish?
It’s funny that one of the critics of this Spanish version of our national anthem, “Mi Himno,” is President George W. Bush, a man who had no problems rolling his rrrrs as he spoke Spanish during his re-election campaign to win Hispanic votes for our nation’s highest office.
Do I detect a double standard?
As many of us celebrate Cinco de Mayo today, a Mexican holiday which has become more popular on this side of the border, it’s important to put some of these immigration concerns into perspective.
When an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, they pledge allegiance to this country. But that does not mean they forget their motherland, particularly when this country was once a part of their motherland and contains much of its history, as in Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated today because of a former Texan-turned-Mexican-hero, Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, who led a Mexican army on May 5, 1862, in Puebla, Mexico, in a victorious battle over the French. This historic event could have made a difference in whether or not American troops defeated the French later.
What I’ve read about “Mi Himno” is that a British music producer wrote this Spanish translation so Spanish-speaking immigrants can express their pride in being in the U.S. before they learn English, which, by the way, they should be required to learn. Its original purpose was not to take away from our national anthem.
In this great country, we have freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean people will always like what you say and how you say it. Controversy also erupted when Roseanne Barr sang the National Anthem and when soul and hip-hop versions were made.
The key concern should be that our National Anthem be given respect. I have no problem with it being sung in another language for a small amount of the population, given that it doesn’t replace the original version in public settings, which won’t happen. It’s like the concept of bilingual education, which has also been controversial. Children are taught in their native language so they don’t fall behind in academics until they have learned enough English to be immersed. If “Mi Himno” is used in the same way, then immigrants will replace it with the English version.
When it comes to flags, however, I do have a double standard. The Confederate flag is also a part of American history, but it makes me cringe because I associate it more with slavery than with Southern pride. So I started wondering, what does it mean when immigrants wave the Mexican flag and why does it make people cringe?
Although the Mexican flag has been waved for years at Six Flags Over Texas because it’s a part of Texas history, people have not felt threatened by it there. But when they see thousands of Mexicans waving the Mexican flag in our streets, this changes to contempt and fear, which is somewhat understandable. But just as the immigration debates have been about compromise, I noticed in the last immigration marches on Monday that the U.S. flag was much more prevalent and Mexican flags were smaller.
That doesn’t make the situation right or wrong, nor does the presence of millions of undocumented workers. There’s no room to go into detail, but there’s blame to assign on both sides of the border. Therefore, the only solution is a compromise.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: