The Nationals and Their Anthems

I recently wrote a serious article on the decline of the economy of the United States, as experienced by most of its people, American Decline. My purpose was to criticize what I see as a decadent “national mentality” that can accept, and even welcome, commercial practices and government policies that lard the wealthy while degrading the conditions of most of the public. That decadent national mentality is most easily labeled “Reaganomics.” Its pith is the appeal to white racism, disguised as anti-socialism and anti-terrorism, in its service to personal greed. It is the hypocrisy of theft cloaked in smiling patriotism, and aiming for apartheid.

Robert Parry and Greg Palast have given objective details on the corrosive effects of thirty years of Reaganomics, and I have given subjective ones. However, sometimes an argument that is visceral, visual, perhaps illogical and reliant on memory can be more effective in transmitting an idea, and ideals. With this in mind, let’s compare two versions of the national anthem.

The Star Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States, and it is performed before major sporting events, like the National Football League’s Superbowl, whose 45th occurrence was on February 6, in Dallas, Texas. The singer chosen to perform the anthem for a nationally televised spectacle like the Super Bowl will be a popular performer whom the producers deem capable of reflecting the image of patriotism held by the sponsors and the audience. The singer will be proud, enthused by the opportunity for national exposure, and under pressure to satisfy mass expectations. The video record of the performance of the national anthem at the Super Bowl, this last Sunday, is also a record of who the “nationals” are that this “anthem” is being sung to. So, we can take this as an official picture of whom the powers-that-be assume is the nation, an anthropological artifact of the national mentality that produced the event.

Former US president (43rd) George W. Bush was in the audience, on this 100th anniversary (6 February 1911) of the birth of former US president (40th) Ronald Reagan. To my mind, Christina Aguilera’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner was a perfect reflection of its situation: shrill, inflated, artless, clumsy, soulless, an anthem for plodding self-satisfied commercialism.

One can think of other “nations” that the United States was or could be, such as the one Marion Anderson sang to in 1939 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Another such nation is one the people of the United States had a glimpse of in the 1960s, but were too fearful to commit to, hence the national decline since 1980. We could be a nation of peace, brotherhood and sisterhood, economic fairness, evident justice, and artful convivial creativity; all it takes is a little coordinated energy guided by our most humane imaginations. Jimi Hendrix performed the anthem for that nation, and the Star Spangled Banner has never sounded better.

It’s been a slow sad slide from Woodstock to Super Bowl XLV, why not go back and start over?

Manuel Garcia, Jr. is an occasional writer who is always independent. His e-mail address is: Read other articles by Manuel, or visit Manuel's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on February 9th, 2011 at 3:13am #

    I saw a most amazing thing on NBC Nightly New’s last night. A reporter I think his first name is Richard showed State run TV in Egypt I guess you could call them commercials everyone dressed up so nice with head phones on computers in wonderful offices moving into the twenty first century. Then Richard showed the real World in Egypt the poor and I was hoping he would show the pyramids but didn’t. Now here with the red, white and blue and 50 States sort of dare we say it is somewhat the same thing. Probably not as in Egypt the people know it’s bullshit and must say when I hear them talk there thought’s are clear in the States land of the corporation are thought’s are not clear very easy to see and we don’t know yet it’s bullshit and watch who you call stupid but more are finding out everyday on the bullshit part. I wonder any messages today maybe Newt, Palin, Beck, Fox New’s, Armey, Forbes, CNBC, Fox Business and on and on in the land of Oz will tell us how the World work’s.

  2. Don Hawkins said on February 9th, 2011 at 3:47am #

    In Egypt they have freedom Square and yes the pyramids here in the States we have so far one big giant Ponzi scheme but we do have squares. Let’s see Time Square could be a start people helping people a cup of coffee and some great conversation. DC is another great place do you need a permit heck must be a place where you don’t need one we are out of time people the time is now unless you like the idea of Beck being the State preacher man or maybe Romney who very sure would let you cut his lawn with your teeth is a good idea. So just on the off chance the big plan is a few castles in a sea of slums as we all go down the drain in not such slow motion how do we get started with the clear thinking part? Yes it will not be easy a Herculean effort as we fight off the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) correct we don’t get what we want but what we need. Heck maybe in Time Square we could get Bloomberg’s three chef’s to make the coffee. Shocking to say the least. Let’s not forget the long haul because as we see tyrant’s don’t go easy.

  3. Don Hawkins said on February 9th, 2011 at 4:33am #

    “When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,”
    “And when he cried the little children died in the streets” [W.H. Auden Epitaph on a Tyrant]

    It’s a tuff one and on our present path tuff doesn’t begin to explain it. Either way need not want. Think not watch c-span the next few week’s as the difference between reality and unreality will be striking am sure. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Everything was all right, the struggle was finished.

  4. Don Hawkins said on February 9th, 2011 at 4:53am #

    Everything was all right, the struggle was finished. Orwell didn’t know what we all face in old 2011 because the struggle is not finished only beginning if we wish to survive seems somewhat clear. If I hear drill baby drill one more time to the garbage can with the TV probably a good idea anyway.

  5. Don Hawkins said on February 9th, 2011 at 8:12am #

    We are making progress as at CNN, Fox New’s and The Weather Channel they are reading our article’s and comment’s on DV. How do I know this trust me they are reading them as Rob the Weatherman on CNN was yelling at his weather board on Fox New’s they said baby it’s cold outside at CNBC well they did a report from Harvard Business School and the big cheeses on today were kind of in another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. To tax carbon and return the tax back to the people will be the start and you don’t fight wars with a real try the Capitalist system in it’s present form sorry say bye bye. Don’t give up we are making progress as the eye’s and ear’s are starting to work again.