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Letter from the Editor

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I just got back from a fishing vacation in the deep woods of Pennsylvania -- no phones, no Internet, no worries. I sat in the Pittsburgh airport Sunday morning, watching the news, trying to catch up. I learned that 70 American servicemen had been killed in April in Iraq. I learned that gas prices were still over $3 a gallon and rising. I was reminded that the next day was May 1st, the three-year anniversary of President Bush's declaration of the "end of combat operations in Iraq." The Middle East was still a powder keg, exploding daily. Starvation in Darfur was still killling thousands of innocent people.

So what dominated the political agenda on Monday? Whether or not "The Star-Spangled Banner" should be sung in English. Lord, we are doomed.

Soon thereafter came the onslaught of press releases from Tennessee's intrepid senatorial candidates. Harold Ford Jr. declared that "our anthem should not be lost in translation." Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary, and Bob Corker quickly chimed in on this vital issue, affirming that they too thought the national anthem should only be sung in English.

Senator Lamar Alexander quickly moved into action, sponsoring a resolution on the Senate floor stating that "songs that symbolize the unity of the nation ... should be recited or sung in English."

Such jingoistic lunacy staggers the mind. Seriously, fellas. With all the problems facing this country, this is how you choose to spend your time? This is the issue you focus on? What's next, creating a language police? ("Pull over, buddy. We've got a report you were singing 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' in Swedish in the shower this morning.")

"Songs of national unity"? What the heck does that mean? We were all singing "The Macarena" a few years back. It unified the country, you might say. Macarena, as it turns out, is a name for "Our Lady of Hope." I think we all need to invoke her help in our prayers for our current "leaders," who seem to have nothing better to do than to create pointless and divisive "issues" designed to pander to our basest fears and prejudices.

¡Ay caramba! ¿Quien es lo mas estupido?

Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor

brucev@MemphisFlyer.com

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