Every week Bob Schieffer ends his Sunday political talk show "Face the Nation" with commentary. Yesterday he praised the virtues of putting America's national anthem "in a hundred languages."
Finally today in the ongoing effort to make our national debate about all the wrong things, we may have reached a milestone with a controversy whether over it is all right for the national anthem to be sung in Spanish. The blogs went nuts about it, of course. Going nuts is their natural state. Talk radio saw danger ahead, `Cover the children's ears.'
Now I'm with them on insisting that everyone who wants to be a citizen should learn English, and in an increasingly diverse country, common experiences have become rarer and rarer, and our language is one of the few things we all share. There is strength in that. But the anthem in English only? I don't get it.
It made me proud to be an American when they tore down the Berlin Wall as "We Shall Overcome," an American spiritual, was playing on the young people's boom boxes. And who among us can forget how we felt when those brave Chinese students brought a papier mache Statue of Liberty into Tiananmen Square. When people take our symbols of freedom as their own, it does not weaken our values, it affirms that they are universal. That makes us stronger, not weaker.
So I hope our anthem will be sung one day in a hundred languages, and I am not worried about translating it, that that will somehow dilute its message. Translation has not seem to hurt the Bible. And since I speak neither Hebrew nor Greek, I'm glad they went to the trouble on that one, otherwise I might've missed the whole thing.