Spring is upon us. Among the millions of notable events that this change sets in motion, the start of baseball season has gained a special status with me in the last few years. I've learned new appreciation for the game. I look forward to enjoying games with my son, once he's old enough.
Unfortunately, this also brings the newfound tradition of singing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. This is one of the side effects of the 9/11 attacks. I hoped this would go away with time, but it seems to have ingrained itself.
I have two problems with this. The first is that playing this is a subtle reinforcement of Christian Nationalism, as the song itself is. What I take from the song, is that this is a Christian nation and that we would be nowhere without god. There is a wealth of evidence, outside of the revisionist crap taught by most schools, proving the former to be wrong and the latter is argumentative at best. Combine the sentiment in the song with the implied connection to nationalism in America's sport, and you have a strengthened connection between Christianity and nationalism. I'd like my sports to have a little less politics, thanks.
My second problem is that I think the song is second rate when compared to other songs that could be performed. Notably, America the Beautiful and This Land Is Your Land are both better representations of this nation, why it is great, and what is special about it. Neither has god as a main focal point, and only one actually mentions god. Both are more inclusive and have better statements of our countries values.
You'll note that America the Beautiful contains several references to god, and you might question why I believe that it is a better choice. I believe that song speaks of why America is great without attributing it to or without proclaiming reliance upon god. Instead, it acknowledges the writer's belief that we need god to help us and to guide us, especially because we have a potential to be great and powerful. The distinction to be made is that in God Bless America we are a weak country in service of god and we attribute everything to god, in America the Beautiful we are a wonderful country which may need god to keep on the right path. It also helps that I think America the Beautiful also sounds better.
Of course, I also don't think that baseball needs to have any more nationalism pumped into it. I think I'd be happiest if they were to remove patriotic songs from the regular schedule. Take Me Out to the Ball Game is a wonderful alternative.