They had someone sing the “Black National Anthem” before the Super Bowl.
Are you sick of it? #MeToo.
Here’s how sick of it: I actually had the pre-game show on my TV just so that I could walk out of the room the moment they started singing that nonsense. I then came back in for “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And I stood for both.
Aren’t we supposed to be One Nation under G-d, Indivisible?
We have one national anthem: the Star-Spangled Banner. Thanks to our crack public education system, most Americans don’t understand all its words: hailed, ramparts, o’er. So what? Learn them. Look them up. That’s why G-d gave us Al Gore to create the internet. And that high note? That highlights the word “free.” So do your best when you sing it and celebrate those who can hit it. But that is our song. That is our theme, the theme of One Nation. Listen to a stadium of hockey fans sing it. Sounds pretty darn good, huh? Listen here as Canadians honor it.
There is nothing wrong with cherishing one’s unique ethnic heritage: Irish, German, Polish, Scottish, African, Italian, Jewish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Armenian, Mexican, Cuban, Venezuelan. Cherish your heritage. Learn that history, too. Learn the vernacular associated with your forebears: Spanish, Italian, German, Polish, Armenian, Hebrew, Yiddish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Gaelic, Whatever. Learn your history, your family tree, how you got here.
But make English your official language. We should not need language choices on the phone when we call the utility company or on election ballots. We are One Nation. We always had One Language. We have One National Anthem.
When I call the utility company, why should I be given choices of languages? Are you sick of it? #MeToo. My grandparents came here speaking Yiddish. They knew a bit of Russian, a bit of Polish, but not a word of English. To their last days, they spoke their English with accents they never could shake. But they learned English soon enough and knew and understood English. The utility company did not offer them a Yiddish option. They did not get ballots in Yiddish. So they learned English. Their children all excelled in unaccented English. Their grandchildren? Heck, I am an Orthodox rabbi, and I am proficient in English.
I love the Star-Spangled Banner, both the banner itself and the anthem. When it is played on TV, I stand, even though no one else is in the room except for G-d and me. I stand for that anthem that stands for this country that has afforded so much opportunity to my grandparents, my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings, and children. This is a great country. And that’s all we ever asked for: opportunity. Just give us a chance. Not reparations. Not handouts. Not “entitlements.” Just a chance. We’ll take it from there.
Yes, America has been marked by episodes of anti-Semitism. And yet, for the overwhelming most part, it has bestowed liberty and justice for all. This country’s “original sin” of slavery is an indelible stain of shame on its history, but that ended more than 150 years ago. And at least 316,222 Union soldiers, primarily White men, died fighting and ending slavery. Those who play victim today over slavery do nothing but enslave themselves. Those who look upon that past and defiantly determine to succeed in an era of advantaged opportunity are the ones who succeed and for whom the sky is the limit, and will be for their children.
That is how Irish, Italian, Polish, German, Chinese, Armenian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Jewish immigrants have done it. There were horrific pogroms against Italians and Germans and Chinese Americans in past eras. Japanese Americans wrongfully were interned as recently as the 1940s. Chinese immigrants were denied citizenship until 1943. Catholics in general faced terrible discrimination. The entire temperance movement was in great measure aimed against Catholics like Italians who drank wine and Germans who drank beer and Irish who drank whiskey. Today, all those ethnicities have overcome those closed doors and prejudices.
The trick to succeeding in America is getting a good education and, no matter what the field, focusing on working hard to climb the ladder. Every group that does so rises. Every group that plays the victim forfeits its turn. And thus we find that ethnic minorities who have come here leap-frog others who already have been here. You play the victim in America, and your prophecy is self-fulfilling. Until the Obama era, America had no patience for whiners. And pity the snowflakes who are in for a big surprise as they learn over the post-college years ahead of them that, while they may be spared microaggressions and may even get trigger warnings, they will miss out on the housing market and on all that America has to offer because, although they may get “entitlements” to which they are not really entitled, no one will hand them the American Dream if they do not pursue it for themselves.
Look at the NBA and the NFL. Those who succeed in those leagues do not rise by kneeling at the national anthem or by demanding national anthems of their own. They succeed by merit, perhaps the last sanctuary for pure merit in America. Players who make the grade get the bucks and the careers. Players who stink get cut. The New York Giants once had a very talented running back. Only one problem: he fumbled too often. So they got rid of him. He was Black, but no one associated his termination with racism. It was the NFL — not an affirmative action college — so it was about merit. And he stank.
As reported the day after the Super Bowl, for those of us who did not watch Colin Kaepernick’s sport of choice, one of the two quarterbacks, a Black man, sustained a severe ankle injury at the end of the first half. What did he do? Did he play the victim? Did he cry “Racist! Racist!” Did he demand reparations for all the Black football players over the decades who have had ankle injuries? No. He got himself fixed up, leveraged the halftime break to recoup and get whatever painkillers were administered to him into his blood system, and he came out determined to win in the second half. And he did.
That is the ticket to success in America. Not crying victimhood. Not complaining that life is not fair. But determining that the rules are adequately flexible to allow anyone to succeed in this country, one Nation under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all who go for it.
I’ll never be sick of that.
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