Poor Lee Greenwood is So Persecuted

Here’s another faux freakout from the right. An elementary school principal in New York said no to kindergartners singing Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA at a graduation ceremony and the wingnuts are foaming at the mouth over it.

A controversial Coney Island principal has pulled the plug on patriotism.

Her refusal to let students sing “God Bless the USA” at their graduation has sparked fireworks at a school filled with proud immigrants.

Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, won’t allow kindergartners to belt out the beloved Lee Greenwood ballad, also known as “Proud to be an American,” at their moving-up ceremony.

It’s bad enough that they have a graduation ceremony for kindergartners, which always seems silly to me, but even worse that they would have the kids sing that song. It’s the single worst song ever written by practically every measure (yes, worse than Celine Dion’s Titanic theme).

It was to be the rousing finale of their musical show at the June 20 commencement. The kids, dressed up for their big day, would wave tiny American flags — which, as the lyrics proclaim, “still stand for freedom.”

But Hawkins marched in on a recent rehearsal and ordered a CD playing the anthem to be shut off, staffers said.

She told the teachers to drop the song from the program.

“We don’t want to offend other cultures,” they quoted her as explaining.

The curt edict stunned both staff and parents.

“A lot of people fought to move to America to live freely, so that song should be sung with a whole lot of pride,” said mom Luz Lozada, whose son, Daniel, is in kindergarten.

The song has been sung at previous school events. Last year’s fifth-graders, including another Lozada child, performed it at graduation.

“Everybody applauded and whistled,” the mom said. “They gave it a standing ovation.”

Yes, I’m sure they did. Because they’ve been raised on the same kind of shallow, childish nationalism that we drum into the heads of children to make them respond emotionally rather than rationally whenever the government tells them we need to invade or bomb the next country full of dark-skinned people who’ve done nothing to harm or threaten us. And Lee Greenwood’s song is a perfect way to send the message that you should not question your government or think too much about the country or the world.

58 comments on this post.
  1. Skip White:

    Thanks to Family Guy, I always hear that song in my head being sung by Herbert the pedophile.

  2. Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort:

    Tch, what are you – some kinda anti-American commie?!

  3. Tabby Lavalamp:

    I like Celine Dion’s Titanic song and I say that without shame.

  4. left0ver1under:

    It’s the single worst song ever written by practically every measure (yes, worse than Celine Dion’s Titanic theme).

    I can think of other wretched songs worse than that, such as “The Little Girl” or “Used To Be”.

    Unsurprisingly, both are religious propaganda, the first anti-atheist hate speech and the second an insufferable, tawdry and schmaltzy pile of crap that signalled the end of Stevie Wonder’s career.

  5. slc1:

    Re Tabby Lavalamp @ #3

    Mr. Brayton is not a big fan of Celine Dion, which is a significant understatement.

  6. hexidecima:

    “shallow, childish nationalism” is a perfect term for this song and any desire to sing it. It smacks of the same nonsense that now has our money with “in god we trust” on it and our pledge of allegiance with “under god” in it. It is nothing more than the childish assumption that, by being a sycophant to a supposedly magical powerful being, it will bring you presents, or at least won’t beat you to death.

    There is no evidence for a god “blessing” anything, much less the Christian god doing anything with one country on one small planet in a vast universe.

  7. frankb:

    I had never heard of the song “God Bless The USA”. I looked up the lyrics and now I consider myself blessed for never having heard it. I fully agree with that principal.

  8. coragyps:

    Pah!! SSgt Barry Sadler makes Ms Dion and Mr Greenwood both look like Johann Sebastian Bach!

  9. frankb:

    I never heard Dion’s “Titanic” either.

  10. Zeno:

    Worse than Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey”? The mind reels.

  11. Michael Heath:

    I got spittle over me when I was flying once back in the 1990s. The lady sitting next to me was visibly upset I’d never heard of Celene Dion, she was angry I wouldn’t admit knowing of her. Then I heard Ms. Dion do an AC/DC song . . .

  12. otrame:

    Worse than Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey”? The mind reels.

    *twitching
    *twitching harder

    Oh, how could you. I hate that song with such a passion. Even hearing it mentioned makes me

    *TWITCH

  13. Abby Normal:

    I’ve tried to write a parody version of the song half a dozen times. But I never seem to get very far. Perhaps it’s some corollary to Poe’s Law, but the thing just seems to disintegrate as soon as I start to pick at it. I get as far as, “I’m pompously American, where at least I’m told I’m free,” then nothing.

  14. anubisprime:

    Well what about this nice little poem about patriotism then?

    It ends thus….

    “If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie;

    Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.(15)

    Wilfred Owen
    8 October 1917 – March, 1918

  15. Akira MacKenzie:

    The performance was to be followed by a new arrangement of “This is MY country… So you godless, ni**er-loving, femninazi, Moos-lim, socialist Lib-ruls better move back to Cuba, y’all!!!”

  16. ArtK:

    Abby Normal, it’s very, very hard to parody something that is so close to parody itself. If someone came to me and asked me to write the most absurdly “patriotic” song ever, it would very likely sound like Greenwood’s POS.

  17. d cwilson:

    The real atrocity here is that the principal apparently replaced the song with something by Justin Beiber.

    That’s right, a Canadian polluting our children with his socialized medicine!

  18. Dr X:

    Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey”

    Bobby Goldsboro: Watching Scotty Grow

    We have it on CD in the medicine chest to induce vomiting in the event of accidental poisoning.

  19. flatlander100:

    Yeah, yeah, it’s not a good song, it’s flag waving hooo for toddlers of all ages. All that. But the principal was wrong to demand it be dropped from the kindergartner’s program. “I don’t like the content of the lyrics” is not a standard for banning songs from school performances that can be comfortably defended.

    As for graduations for kindergartners…. what the hell?

  20. Synfandel:

    I agree with the principal’s decision, but not with her reason. The problem is not that the song might “offend other cultures” (an excess of patriotism not being intrinsically offensive to any particular culture), but that it would require school children to call upon “God”. It’s a separation of church and state issue.

  21. thisisaturingtest:

    No, sorry. Single worst song ever written- “Escape,” otherwise known as “The Pina Colada Song.” No-one with more than half a brain can listen to that song and not cringe. I say this as a musician. Completely objective analysis (as if).
    As for this one- kinda gotta agree with flatlander here. Absolutely a wretched song, horrible, stupid, gut-wrenchingly banal lyrics, but…the principal’s stated reason for yanking the song doesn’t seem defensible on any other ground than, as flatlander, said, disagreeing with those lyrics (maybe other grounds, such as the reference to god, would have been more defensible). As for Ed’s reason, I wonder (aloud, as it were) if he hasn’t just let his hatred for the song color his feelings, and override his rationality, here. Weren’t we just talking about this a few articles ago?

  22. Larry:

    If a kindergartner understands 1% of that song, h/she should be inducted as an honorary teabagger. In which case, the average IQ of teabaggers would nearly double.

    Seriously, who thought it appropriate for 6 year olds to sing that. Personally, I would had have them sing Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall.

  23. W. Kevin Vicklund:

    For Abby Normal:

    Artist: Pee Preenwoody
    Song: Pompously American

    If tomorrow all the things were gone,
    Handed to me all my life.
    And I had to start again,
    With just my children and fourth wife.

    I’d blame all the dark-skinned folk,
    That are livin here today.
    ‘Cause the flag has lost all meaning,
    And they should all just go away.

    And I’m pompously American,
    Where at least I’m told I’m free.
    And I’ll point to all the men who died,
    If you disagree with me.

    And I’ll gladly prop up
    Disgusting Jews to deflect what you might say.
    ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I’ve lost my mind,
    God bless the USA.

    From the loons of Minnesota,
    to the hicks of Tennessee.
    Don’t cross cowboys in Texas,
    We bitch and whine, you see.

    From Detroit down to Houston,
    and New York to L.A.
    Well there’s a void in every Republican brain,
    and its time we demand you say.

    That I’m pompously American,
    Where at least I’m told I’m free.
    And I’ll point to all the men who died,
    If you disagree with me.

    And I’ll gladly prop up
    Disgusting Jews to deflect what you might say.
    ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I’ve lost my mind,
    God bless the USA.

    And I’m pompously American,
    Where at least I’m told I’m free.
    And I’ll point to all the men who died,
    If you disagree with me.

    And I’ll gladly prop up
    Disgusting Jews to deflect what you might say.
    ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I’ve lost my mind,
    God bless the USA.

  24. tacitus:

    The refrain:

    “And I’m proud to be an American,
    Where at least I know I’m free.”

    has always struck me as a bit strange, as if you would say “I’ve had a truckload of crap dumped over me in my life as an American, but hey, even though I’m out of work and I can’t afford to pay for the medical care of my newborn child, at least I know I’m free… right?”

    (And it doesn’t even have the merit of being true, in many cases.)

  25. Chris from Europe:

    @tacitus
    You should learn to value the freedom to die. It may not be the best outcome, but at least the state finally leaves you alone!

    But also something serious: I like “Beauty and the Beast” by Celine Dion. /confession

  26. tacitus:

    I remember my jaw dropping when I first heard this song being sung at the opening of the 2007 “Values Voters Summit”

    Why should God bless America?
    She’s forgotten he exists
    And has turned her back on everything
    That made her what she is
    Why should God stand beside her
    Through the night with the light from his hand?
    God have mercy on America
    Forgive her sin and heal our land

    The courts ruled prayer out of our schools
    In June of ‘62
    Told the children “you are your own God now
    So you can make the rules”
    O say can you see what that choice
    Has cost us to this day
    America, one nation under God, has gone astray

    Why should God bless America?
    Shes’s forgotten he exists
    And has turned her back on everything
    That made her what she is
    Why should God stand beside her
    Through the night with the light from his hand?
    God have mercy on America
    Forgive her sins and heal our land

    In ‘73 the Courts said we
    Could take the unborn lives
    The choice is yours don’t worry now
    It’s not a wrong, it’s your right
    But just because they made it law
    Does not change God’s command
    The most that we can hope for is God’s mercy on our land

    Why should God bless America?
    She’s forgotten he exists
    And has turned her back on everything
    That made her what she is
    Why should God stand beside her
    Through the night with the light from his hand?
    God have mercy on America
    Forgive her sins and heal our land

    God have mercy on America
    Forgive her sins and heal our land

  27. Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort:

    @tacitus:

    It’s also bad grammar, and once you see it it bugs you all the freakin’ time.

  28. imthegenieicandoanything:

    People (using the widest and most generous definition) that like that sick, twisted, evil song are surely also 100% likely to believe in a “young earth”.

    When I hear that song, I know someone whose deserves my hatred is nearby.

  29. beardedone:

    I happen to like that Lee Greenwood song and I’m a hard-core Atheist. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a public school though because of the god references.

  30. Pierce R. Butler:

    But, but, 9/11!

    That’s the ACLJ’s take on the situation. From a letter (“Mayor allows God ban”) opposing this “political correctness” and supporting “[o]ne of our most beloved patriotic songs”:

    As one school staffer put it, “We were the victims of 9/11. It hit New York really hard. That song became famous because of that tragedy. Removing that song is horrific. It’s opening the wound again.”

    Checkmate, America haters!

  31. dingojack:

    Dr X (#18) – is that a stronger or a weaker purgative than the Karen Carpenter singing “Close To You“? *
    W. Kevin Vicklund (#23) = Take the following antidote and call a physician if the symptoms persist.: “I’m an Asshole!” – Dennis Leary.
    Tacitus (#26) – If god’s (left?) hand is a nightlight why is there this?**
    Checkmate goddists!

    :) Dingo
    ——–
    * not recommended unless a suitably large, water-proof container is close at hand for the copious volume of vomit likely to be produced.

    ** Note the eyelines of all involved

  32. F:

    he beloved Lee Greenwood ballad, also known as “Proud to be an American,”

    Also known as the song with complete grammar fail in the most popular and definitive lines.

  33. F:

    19 flatlander100

    But the principal was wrong to demand it be dropped from the kindergartner’s program. “I don’t like the content of the lyrics” is not a standard for banning songs from school performances that can be comfortably defended.

    20 Synfandel

    I agree with the principal’s decision, but not with her reason. The problem is not that the song might “offend other cultures” (an excess of patriotism not being intrinsically offensive to any particular culture), but that it would require school children to call upon “God”. It’s a separation of church and state issue.

    I didn’t see a third-hand “quote” of “I don’t like the content of the lyrics” anywhere, just “”We don’t want to offend other cultures,” they quoted her as explaining”, and “Department of Education spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti gave The Post an explanation staffers said they never heard — that Hawkins found the lyrics “too grown up” for 5-year-olds.” Both of these are not at all direct quotes from Hawkins. Regardless, she is required nether to be a Constitutional scholar nor particularly logical and eloquent as a human being when pointing out something she knows is wrong. Offending other cultures (those who are not this flavor of Christian correlgionist) is a separation issue. Government-run institutions may not force God into the equation. It is also jingoistic and offensive to many patriotic US citizens, let alone “other cultures” (which I read as “not mainstream US thoughtless Christo-jingoist nationalists). “Other cultures” could be your neighbor whose ancestry has been in the US for 200 years, descended from WASPs.

    God bless America? That sounded like a prayer. A prayer. A prayer in a public school! God has no place within these walls, just like facts have no place within organized religion.

    “Everybody applauded and whistled,” the mom said. “They gave it a standing ovation.”

    Yeah, take it outside, God-boy.

    Scaperotti noted PS 90 kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing “America the Beautiful” each morning. Insiders say Hawkins tried to end that tradition a couple years ago but staff objected.

    It’s wrong to force people, especially children in schools, to take religiously-tainted loyalty oaths. Which a lot of people, including the children, do not really fully understand.

    “Five classes spent months learning the patriotic song,”

    Months? Are you fucking kidding me? Yet another reason why Johnny can’t read, apparently.

  34. F:

    lolwut? Italics tags were auto-inserted around the last two sentences after Months. I thought I had failed to close the tag, but not so.

    Let’s see if it happens again.

  35. meg:

    @anubisprime – my favourite poem ever. Okay, yeah, it’s an awful description of a gas attack, but it’s so vivid, no confusion or misinterpretation possible. I often use it with Yr 8-9 students to look at how techniques are used in poems. Once had a class end up debating chemical warfare for 15 minutes as a result of it – decided not to stop them as it was a really good discussion, even if they were using Modern Warfare etc as examples. I suspect Mr Owen would have appreciated their thoughts.

    Down here, we accept our anthem is pretty crappy, and routinely debate replacing it with a song about a suicidal sheep thief, or about tourists overseas throwing up after too much beer. . . yeah, I don’t get it either, but they’re fun to sing. And we at least got rid of God Save the Queen. . ..

  36. Brain Hertz:

    Then I heard Ms. Dion do an AC/DC song . . .

    Well, that does sound pretty terrible. But I’m sure it can’t be as awful as the Pat Boone rendition of Enter Sandman by Metallica.

  37. bybelknap:

    No. You are all wrong. The worst song ever recorded is “You Are My Special Angel.” by Bobby Vinton. Go ahead. Give it a listen. I dare you. I double dare you. I triple-dog dare you!

  38. beezlebubby:

    @37:
    I’d rather lick a frozen flagpole.

  39. Brain Hertz:

    @37 – ok, I listened to it.

    Well, ok, for literally multiple seconds, at least. I still don’t think it’s as bad as Pat… Check it out on youtube; it’s just all sorts of wrong.

  40. Who Knows?:

    I don’t know if it’s the worst song ever but I nominate that fucking Christmas Shoes song. I guess it was a fucking movie too.

  41. dan4:

    Pretty much any song by the The Lovin’ Spoonful except for “Summer in the City” would make a excellent “Worst Song Ever” nomination.

  42. bybelknap:

    Pat singing “Enter Sandman”… well, sorry, the band is awfully tight. They actually pretty much kick ass. But may Mr. Boone suffer in pain for a long while from some horrible malady for his butchering of the song. I have heard evil.

  43. frankb:

    Hey, I like “Summer In The City”. I heard that one time a guy got kicked out of a bar for selecting “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” by John Denver repeatedly on the Jutebox. Now that is a bad song.

  44. democommie:

    Sorry, but “Escape–The Pina Colada Song” isn’t even RUPERT HOLMES’ worst song; that ‘honor’ goes to “Timothy”. And Rupert Fucking Holmes has been extremely successful–go figure.

    Lee Greenwood would have to die and become putrescent to improve his current status.

  45. stubby:

    If you haven’t had your daily dose of stupid check out some of the comments on the article page.

  46. tuxedocartman:

    Have none of you people heard “Jesus Take The Wheel” by Carrie Underwood?! I’m uncertain, but curious, if I’d hate that song more if I was a Christian. Lee Greenwood’s “woo stars and stripes give me wood” thing has no place in a classroom, but is hardly the worst song ever made when compared to Underwood’s musical abortion.

  47. mucklededun:

    I keep my Danegeld locked up in a Jutebox.

  48. tbp1:

    Dave Barry’s classic worst song poll. It’s pretty old now, but still a good read: Dave in his prime.

    http://www.cs.umd.edu/~gasarch/HUMOR/worstsongs.html

  49. Synfandel:

    Then I heard Ms. Dion do an AC/DC song . . .

    Well, that does sound pretty terrible. But I’m sure it can’t be as awful as the Pat Boone rendition of Enter Sandman by Metallica.

    Or Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme doing Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun.

  50. karlvonmox:

    I’m one of the few people that decides not to stand up at ballgames whenever they do “God Bless America” in the 7th inning stretch.

  51. Abby Normal:

    Re: W. Kevin Vicklund @ 23.

    Not bad. Thanks!

  52. caseloweraz:

    @tbp1:

    That’s a pretty good list. But, proving once again that there’s no accounting for taste, Dave Barry concludes his survey with: “Let me also say that I am very relieved to learn that there are people besides me who hate ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ Thank you.”

    Come on — that led Zeppelin tune is a fine one. But now if he meant the Neil Sedaka one (“Gonna build a stairway to heaven, ‘cos heaven is where you are.”) he would have something.

    “Climb up, way up high! Climb up, way up high!”

  53. caseloweraz:

    Let me second Abby Normal here:

    Well done, W. Kevin Vicklund!

  54. caseloweraz:

    The Lee Greenwood song aside, there is something to be said for patriotism and patriotic songs. Of course they can be overdone, but they don’t have to be.

    Here’s one that I consider is not overdone: “The Power and the Glory” by Phil Ochs:

    http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/ochs-phil/power-and-the-glory-11441.html#.T9oUjpjkW9s

  55. caseloweraz:

    Finally I want to say that I like everything I’ve heard from The Lovin’ Spoonful, right through “Nashville Cats” and the song from the movie “You’re a Big Boy Now.”

    (“…and I sure am glad I had a chance to say a word
    about the music and the mothers from Nashville.”)

    Sly, that.

    And learning to play “Night Owl Blues” the way John Sebastian does was a secret ambition for a big part of my life.

  56. interrobang:

    I’m almost completely sure that “One Tin Soldier” is the worst song I’ve ever heard. I actually think “Escape” is sort of funny, at least, but “One Tin Soldier” is enough to turn a staunch pacifist into a rabid warmonger.

    My personal runner-up would be “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams. Don’t tell me none of you have ever suffered from the urge to yell (in a public place, no less, which is always where I hear such things, since I’m not stupid but I am occasionally a captive audience in a store or something) “NO! NO IT DOES NOT!” when she smarms, er, excuse me, sings “Sometimes the sun goes ’round the moon…” Seriously.

    On the other hand, I don’t get exposed to much country music, because it tends to make me want to commit a mass murder/suicide, so there is that. I think country music in its current form is a conspiracy to keep rural-coded, right-leaning people passive, since the message of most of the songs boils down to “Life sucks, but there’s nothing you can do about it except maybe pray, and whine a lot.” We’d have a better political culture if more people listened to the type of punk that teaches you that you can too fight City Hall…and every other institution and power structure that gets in your way.

  57. frankniddy:

    ‘I can think of other wretched songs worse than that, such as “The Little Girl”’

    left0ver1under,
    I just looked up the lyrics to the song “The Little Girl”. It figures that it’s a country song. Almost all of country music these days is Hallmark-level Jesus and troops music.

  58. twincats:

    I got more than my fill of this awful song when I was stationed at Diyarbakir AB in Turkey in 1986. They played it at the NCO/EM club every month to send off those PCSing out and welcome those coming in; in fact, it was the grand finale. It was pretty much expected for everyone who could be there to join in the festivities. I, like many others really enjoyed the chance to say farewell to departing friends and welcome new ones, but enduring that song got to be hard going.

    I’d like submit an alternate/additional 2nd line for the awwesome Greenwood song parody started by Abby Normal @13 and expanded on by W. Kevin Vicklund @23:

    And I won’t forget those sacrificed
    In pointless wars for me.

Leave a comment

You must be