Roots, Toots n' Hoots Blog
The Brooklyn head scratcher and Lee Greenwood
Jeffrey Remz | June 12, 2012
Justin Bieber is going the way of Lee Greenwood when it comes to what songs a Brooklyn, N.Y. elementary school chorus can sing. In case you missed it, there's been a brouhaha a brewing at PS 90 because Greenwood's God Bless the USA was removed from the kindergarten graduation "because it's not 'age appropriate,'" according to Principal Greta Hawkins.
At first she let Bieber's Baby remain in the program, but now that's gone also. "The principal has decided she's not going to sing that song. It's the principal's decision, and we support the principals," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The ban remains on Greenwood's song, and he didn't understand what the issue was about. ""I wrote God Bless the USA about the love I have for this country and the struggle we have gone through to remain free. Our country was founded on the principle that it welcomes people of all cultures and gives them the same rights we have as citizens. However, I feel compelled to echo the faith or our forefathers who all believed in God and a respect of a higher authority. Personally, denying the children of PS 90 to sing God Bless the USA, offends me as a Christian. My song is about hope, faith, spirit and ride. How could that be wrong on any level?"
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was quoted by the New York Post as saying, "It's her judgment to make that decision. It's important to reinforce that they start out the morning every day of the school year with the Pledge of Allegiance and 'America the Beautiful,' and that, to me, is what this country is about, and they celebrate that, and that's how we should start our day.
"You have to really wonder about some of the lyrics in the song, so I have to rely on the principal's judgment along that line," he said
The Post said, "At issue, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman, are lyrics from the tune's opening verse: 'If tomorrow all the things were gone/I'd worked for all my life/And I had to start again/with just my children and my wife.'"
That's offensive? Five year olds may not understand the concept of dying so well, but it is part of life unfortunately.
I'm not exactly sure what was offensive about God Bless the USA. I can't say it's one of my favorites - as a song. It's too simple for me, but it's certainly fine to express pride and love in your country. What that has to do with being Christian doesn't make any sense to me. You can obviously believe in God and not be Christian. So for Greenwood to put it in Christian terms cheapens the issue and the song.
As for Bieber's Baby, I'm not so sure kindergarteners know a whole lot about love either. That was not a stellar choice to say the least.
The main issue here though was the Greenwood decision. Hawkins hasn't been quoted as saying what the issue really is. This is a head scratcher. God Bless the USA always has been considered patriotic fare, and nothing has changed. Removing the song from the graduation ceremony was ill advised.