(CNSNews.com) - President Bush said Friday that he believes "The Star-Spangled Banner" should be sung in English, the language immigrants moving to America should learn so this country doesn't "lose our national soul."
"I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English," the president said during a news conference in the Rose Garden, "and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English, and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."
The president made the comments in response to a reporter's question the same day a Spanish-language version of the national anthem -- retitled "Nuestro Himno" or "Our Anthem" -- was released by British music producer Adam Kidron. The producer said he wanted to honor America's immigrants with the new version sung by Latin pop stars.
"It's the one thing everybody has in common, the aspiration to have a relationship with the United States ... and also to express gratitude and patriotism to the United States for providing the opportunity," Kidron said.
Bush took a different point of view on Friday.
"One of the things that's very important is, when we debate this issue, that we not lose our national soul," he said. "One of the great things about America is that we've been able to take people from all walks of life bound as one nation under God. And that's the challenge ahead of us."
The president then turned his attention to a related topic: the "Day Without Immigrants" boycott and marches set to take place on Monday in cities across the U.S.
"I am not a supporter of boycotts," he said. "I am a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. ... I think that most Americans agree that we've got to enforce our border."
Bush's comments on "Nuestro Himno" echoed remarks made Friday by Mauro Mujica, chairman of U.S. English, Inc. The group's website states that it is "the nation's oldest and largest non- partisan citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States."
"While Americans openly accept the sharing of their icons, they will not stand for actions which change those symbols to suit others' purposes," Mujica said. "'Nuestro Himno' takes a song that has bound generations of Americans and changes its words and language to promote a political agenda.
"It is the wrong message, and I join Americans from all backgrounds in rejecting it," he stated.
"If this were merely a creative way to bring our national anthem to newcomers to our nation, 'Nuestro Himno' would be a commendable effort," Mujica noted. "But in its lyrics and its language, this song is a wholesale altering of the anthem's unifying message.
"If these artists truly believe that message, they would sing the same national anthem as their fellow Americans, not create a separate anthem," he said.
"We also cannot ignore the context in which these albums appear," Mujica added.
"At the first of the mass rallies demanding the legalization of illegal immigrants, flags of foreign countries outnumbered American flags," he stated. "While event organizers have subsequently scrubbed these counterproductive images, the foreign flags suggested something other than a total embrace of the United States.
"A re-written national anthem that is sung in a foreign language is a similar symbol that demands that the United States embrace immigrants on their terms, rather than the other way around," Mujica said.
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