The Dawnzer

That’s it. I give up. God is a Republican:

The national anthem should be sung in English — not Spanish — President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over the millions of immigrants here illegally.

“One of the things that’s very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul,” the president exclaimed. “One of the great things about America is that we’ve been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that’s the challenge ahead of us.”

A Spanish language version of the national anthem was released Friday by a British music producer, Adam Kidron, who said he wanted to honor America’s immigrants.

When the president was asked at a Rose Garden question-and-answer session whether the anthem should be sung in Spanish, he replied: “I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and 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.”

It’s beautiful, really, how well it fits. I continue to believe that immigration is not the backfiring nightmare people hope it will be for Republicans. I continue to think it’s 2006’s version of gay marriage, the hot topic that had nothing to do with anything but that right-wingers used to whip up their fearful, selfish base into a frenzy of hatred that drove them to the polls.

The other night the local news was doing their bullshit “man on the street” segment where they interview six famewhoring pinheads who don’t know anything, and this Spanish-language national anthem was the topic of the poor reporter’s questions. The woman who caught my interest was every third woman I’ve ever met: tight perm, thick specs, loud boxy shirt and windbreaker. It should be in English, she said indignantly. Why? Because it should.

Because deep down she felt uncomfortable and creeped out by “her” national anthem being sung in Spanish, the same way thousands like her felt vaguely unsettled by the thought of removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and by the idea of boys kissin’ on each other. And in Bush’s America, things that make the halfbright feel yucky are the things that decide elections.

I passed by this billboard all the time on my way up to Wisconsin in September and October. It was blue and in white letters it read, “One Nation. Under God.” In the corner was the Bush/Cheney logo.

That billboard is the story of the Republican party’s campaign and public image strategy, right there. It tells you Bush is for God. You vote for Bush and you vote for God. Because, unspoken in that billboard is the message that the other guy, Kerry somebody? Shot God in Reno just to watch him die.

God wasn’t on the ballot that November. God wasn’t anywhere near any of the issues that were in fact important. Just as “should the national anthem be English-only” isn’t anywhere near anything we need to worry about. But people will, and damn it if you ignore that, you ignore the political reality that for most people the thought process is: You ain’t got a job and you ain’t got no savings and your neighbor’s kid just got his ass shot off in Fallujah, but damn it, you can fix this national anthem thing right quick.

And it’s not so much a party problem as it is one of utter debasement of the national conversation, until all you need in order to consider yourself politically knowledgable is this beauty-shop gossip grasp of Today Show-type issues. All you need to know you can get from The View. Bullshit media-driven chatter about nothing, about sweaters and God and now this, as if somebody somewhere singing Oh Say Can You See really matters. Of course it doesn’t.

Our hope with immigration is this: that the hundreds of thousands who turn out for rallies will turn up at the polls and vote against Republicans because the public perception is that Republicans are nasty racist assholes. But is that our message? Is it being driven home that way, that simply? I don’t see it. I see media getting increasingly bitchy (“growing restlessness” is one of those characterizations that needs no facts to back it up) and no sign that public opinion has any bearing whatsoever on what Republicans do.

I hate the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach about this, but there it is. Our billboards have already been written. We the People. All the people. We’ve got to put them up, before all the roadside space is taken up by Republicans’ “One Nation. No Habla Espanol.”

A.

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