I have to admit that when I saw the words "Marc Anthony," "God Bless America" and "controversy" in the same sentence, I wondered for a moment if Pit Bull showed up with J Lo and it threw Anthony into a tizzy. Anthony sang the song before the MLB All-Star game Wednesday night in New York City, but it wasn't some TMZ-infused scandal that caused the problem. It was the response from people on Twitter.
The Tumblr site Public Shaming has been exposing racist comments on social media for a while now. The responses from social media users are often as stupid as they are predictable, but for some reason, the Anthony responses were particularly confusing to me. When Sebastian De La Cruz sang the National Anthem in San Antonio during the NBA Finals dressed in full mariachi gear, he seemed like an easy target for bigoted morons and, unfortunately, he was, regardless of the fact he and his family are from San Antonio and his father is in the military.
Anthony was born and raised in New York. He's been performing throughout the United States for YEARS and was married to Jennifer Lopez. He was standing there singing "God Bless America" (really, really well I might add) in a button down. He wasn't dancing around in a sombrero and singing in Spanish like some caricature from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
But, and here's what really bothers me, who says there is anything wrong with that?
Growing up in the suburbs as a white, pasty kid of German and Danish heritage, I dreamt of being different. My heroes were Dr. J and Bruce Lee. I wanted to learn Mandarin and shoot hoops with my black friends in neighborhoods that made my parents nervous. As I got older, I learned Latin music and played rock en Español. Like most Houstonians, I now regularly eat what could be deemed the official food of Houston: Mexican.
To me, cultural differences are fascinating. They don't alienate me from people. They bring me closer and fuel my curiosity.
Some believe this is a watering down of America's culture. But America was built on the culture of everyone -- from Native Americans (the only true native sons and daughters) to the Italian immigrants who gave us pizza (perhaps the most American of foods outside of hot dogs, which by the way, were invented in Germany) to the African slaves who invented jazz, the greatest American-born art form, on the streets of New Orleans.
I honestly don't get people who find these things to be anathema to America. They are as American as apple pie, which was technically invented in England.
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As Bill Murray's character in the movie Stripes said, "Our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world." We are mutts. That is not something to be denigrated or reviled. It's not even something to be celebrated. It is simply the reality of who we are as Americans. What makes us so resilient is how we adapt and redefine ourselves with every new addition, not only out of necessity, but also out of the desire to set ourselves apart.
Geneticists know that the best way to wipe out a race of people is to in-breed. Over time, genes become mutated and are more susceptible to disease and deformity. The only way to prevent this is to introduce new gene pools into the mix.
America is a massive cultural and genetic experiment. It sets us apart from virtually every other world society. Anthony's performance is not representative of the downfall of the country, it is an example of our strength. The abhorrent, narrow-minded response from some on Twitter is simply a reminder of how far we have to go.