Thursday, March 20, 2008

Patriot Games

National Anthems are funny things or rather the way they are treated by their respective citizens is worthy of comment.

The English bellow a dreary ditty imploring God in whom .00001% of them actually believe to "save their gracious" monarch, currently and for the foreseeable future a member of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (aka "Windsor") dynasty, a bunch (the present impeccable incumbent excepted) to whom graciousness is as foreign as dignity is to Eliot Spitzer.

The Scottish, a cowed, embittered lot, howl to shreds a tuneful ballad commemorating a victory over the hated yet apparently necessary English which happened so long ago dinosaur steaks were still a living memory.

The Welsh - a gallant neglected ill-used race, not least of all by themselves - deliver a magnificent, Methodistical, massed choral rendition of a poem in Welsh praising their beloved gwlad (native land) and yr haniaith (the ancient tongue) which still flourishes among them. Always a most moving and haunting occasion, musically and otherwise.

The Irish - renowned the world over for their spontaneous outbursts of songs sad and merry - declare themselves fianna fáil (warrior bands of destiny) atá faoi gheall ag Éirinn (who are pledged to Ireland) yet with little of the passion and pride the words so lustily express. All in all a limp angst-ridden performance by a people brainwashed by a treacherous Anglophile elite into a Green Guilt about their awe-inspiring fight for freedom, dignity and nationhood against all the odds - and I do mean all.

The French with the most rousing call to revolutionary war ever penned become for a brief shining moment the red-capped stormers of the Bastille and the invincible victors of Austerlitz before sinking back into the smug, selfish - but always stylish - aimlessness that is now the metier of a nation that was once the greatest of the earth. A cautionary tale.

The Germans can be ignored. They're so terrified of being excommunicated from the human race as the spawn of Hitler by Le Monde and the New York Times and the EU kleptocracy in Brussels that they shuffle through a series of notes neither national in spirit nor an anthem in effect so they can get back to their true role in life, mentally denouncing themselves for having ever been born. Another cautionary tale.

The Americans possess a beautiful touching and musically nuanced song that perfectly captures the pride, courage and triumph of a young nation that yelled defiance at the pretensions of a Super Power - the English once again. (They run like a bold red thread through our variegated tapestry, do they not? As Daphne might say to Frazier, "I wonder why?") This beautiful ballad of course requires the combined vocal powers of Nellie Melba and Luciano Pavorotti backed by the massed voices of the Red Army Choir to render properly. A unique disadvantage which the Opening Day of Baseball Season serves sadly and invariably to highlight.

This matters not a jot to Americans. All other nations set great store by how well their Anthems are sung. It is, well, a matter of honor. A below par performance calls forth a mighty tut-tutting and much grim headshaking. The inhabitants of "the land of the brave" and the residents of "the homes of the free" are quite indifferent to such blindingly obvious considerations. Where citizens of other countries would squirm and grit their teeth down to the very gums at the screeching, caterwauling and sudden manic changes of key to which "The Star Spangled Banner" is regularly subjected, Americans are just stood there, serenely prideful, as if their ear canals had been injected with quick-drying concrete by their obstetrician as part of a weird birthing rite.

This is because the American National Anthem is not first and foremost a patriotic song but rather a pledge of allegiance that happens to be set to music. It is a pledge which each American personally takes to the Flag honored by the song and the Republic for which it stands. It is not a jingoistic expression of nationalist sentiment but rather a solemn public re-consecration of the duty each citizen feels to the United States and the principles upon which the Union was founded.

This is why Americans during the playing of their National Anthem invariably do something that immediately strikes foreigners as downright unnecessary: they - as one - place their right hand over their heart. This is the outward sign of the civic sacrament in which both individually and communally they are participating. European know-it-alls who see the cultural and political exhaustion of their Continent as a mark of a highly evolved aesthetic and intellectual sensibility deride this gesture as a particularly naive form of nativist American simplemindedness. Cornpone, in a word.

American soi disant sophisticates have the same attitude. No surprise there. The supranational Liberal elites across the western world cooperate assiduously to weave a seamless shroud for what they hope will be the corpse of the only civilization that would allow them to exist. For such as these American patriotism is for Republican warmongers, corporate ogres, trailer park trash, fly-over Bible-thumpers and unreconstructed lunch-pail ignoramuses. In other words, the vast majority of the American people as refracted through the special ideological eye-glasses that are a de rigeur fashion accessory among the far left of the Democratic Party.

That Barack Obama shares this world view is now, of course, clear to everyone. It took Jeremiah Wright - God bless him - to make that manifest to us. But there were quite a few straws in the wind before that. Michelle Obama's otherwise inexplicable inability to be proud of her country. Obama's refusal to have a flag pin on his lapel which would amount to nothing except that after 9/11 he sported one for some time then decided to get quit of it.

There was of course another telling moment. Yes, we return to the Star Spangled Banner. At a Democratic fry-up in Iowa last year attended by candidates Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama the National Anthem was, well, let's call it sung. The platform party rises. They place hands over heart. All but two that is. One is a guy who stands to attention and turns to face the huge flag behind him. The other is Senator Obama. He doesn't stand erect and he doesn't place hand on heart. He doesn't quite slouch either but kind of lingers there in what you could call a posture of polite indifference as if patiently waiting for the song to end. This attitude is underscored by his cradling his hands in front of his crotch all the while.

See it here.

Those who brought this extraordinary behavior to public attention at the time were scorned, mocked, derided, cat-called and generally run out of town on a rail by the Mainstream Media. The rest of us - who hold the MSM in the same regard as Mr. Hankey - were nonetheless bamboozled into acquiescence. It was a trivial no-account affair. Like the business about the lapel pin. It required a lovingly polished paranoia fueled by copious drafts of Jim Beam to read anything into such trivia. The guy was tired, for Heaven's sake. He was thinking long long thoughts. He had tennis elbow. He didn't recognize the song and - given the torture to which it was subjected - who could blame him. Et cetera. Et reliqua. Et multa alia.

Now of course we all know better. We have, after all, attended Jeremiah Wright's seminar: "Far Left Anti-Americanism - The Tell-Tale Symptoms". The vanishing lapel pin, the wife's grudging remarks, the crotch cradling salute to the Flag all now make sense because we don't now feel the need to explain them away. They fit into a pattern so saddening, so dismaying, so outrageously at odds with the image Obama sought to foist on us that it will take some time for the American people to come to grips with this gut-wrenching truth:

The only thing that Barack Obama likes about the America we love is the Presidency.

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