Marc Anthony Sings “God Bless America” — and Racist Tweets Take Over

Marc Anthony during the 84th MLB All-Star Game on July 16, 2013 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

Marc Anthony during the 84th MLB All-Star Game on July 16, 2013 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

NOTICE: Off-topic from food. A Tumblr blog called “Public Shaming”, written by Matt Binder, brought this incident to my attention. Apparently, a slew of folks decided that our own Marc Anthony, an American celebrity and singer, singing “God Bless America” was not acceptable at an American baseball game, not because the man can’t sing, since he can bust out one hell of a tune — but because he is, at least according to these tweets, a Mexican, a Spaniard (and related derogatory words) or otherwise not American and unqualified to sing the song.

The same thing happened over our national anthem, just over a month ago during the NBA finals. That was ridiculous. I was pissed then – and now I’m even angrier. I ask you this: what is the problem with anybody, putting aside whether they look like you or not, singing “God Bless America”?  Are you even listening to the lyrics?? Here are the lyrics to “God Bless America” in its entirety, although the first verse is usually skipped these days.

“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America
My home, sweet home
God bless America —- my home, sweet home.”

Disrespect is Roseanne Barr, making a joke of our anthem. But even she has the right to sing it if she wants–even if all logic dictates she really should never sing, period.

Queue the racist posts

Queue the racist posts

Since the Tumblr post, it appears Ken Fowler has decided to delete his account, except that doesn’t erase it from having happened…and most worrisome is this man is presumably a “coach” to some children out there. The thought of this man’s poison molding the minds of some children out there is horrifying. The ignorance required to lump Fidel Castro (of Cuba, by the way, which is not Mexico, Ken…) to Marc Anthony (born in New York…and Puerto Rican descent — neither of which are Cuba or Mexico, Ken) into one sentence is bad enough. To automatically assume Marc Anthony is Mexican is also short-sighted and racist.

But let’s just assume he doesn’t understand his geography; I can forgive that. I suck at physics.

The real issue here is — what’s the problem with anyone–everyone–singing a song about a country we love? Is it not an honor to have beautiful voices sing OUR anthem? Isn’t it a testament to THIS COUNTRY that people from all over the world immigrated here years and years ago for a better life and freedom, found it — and now call it “home”?

The song, “God Bless America”, is about inclusion and unity. It is about people from every continent, every religion, every culture, and EVERY single color who call this great country “home”– and not because they had to but because they chose to be here. That is what makes this country great–and for folks like Fowler and Camp to tweet this type of nastiness while one of these Americans is singing this amazing song is, in short, embarrassing.

Frankly, I don’t care if you’re purple and from outer space; if you want to sing “God Bless America”, sing your heart out! I love the song, I love the sentiment, and even more than the anthem, this song embodies the greatness of the United States. Sing it and sing it proudly.

That’s Celine Dion — a Canadian, dammit — singing her beautiful rendition of “God Bless America” as a salute to OUR military, by the way. Or is that okay, because she’s white?

Seriously, Fowler — what century are you living in?

And for all of you who think a “Mexican” or any other race should not sing this beautiful song at our events–I have news for you. People of all colors, white included, have sacrificed their lives so that you, a white man, and I, an Asian woman, and everyone else in America can live freely. People of all colors worked together to make America what it is today–and continue working hard to keep America great. And people of all color are playing for YOUR teams, baseball or otherwise. They ARE the very people who should sing this song. You may have sprouted on a field in Idaho when this country came to be, but they chose this country as their “home, sweet home”.

Ken Fowler

Ken Fowler’s Twitter Profile – before it was taken down

In closing, since I am all about “social image management” — a little free advice for you, “Coach” Ken. If you are going to post ugliness like this — let’s keep in mind a few things, eh?

  1. Once you post it, it stays “out there”. Heard of a cache? Someone, one day, will google “Coach Ken Fowler”….that should be one interesting search result page.
  2. If you are going to post nastiness and racist garbage — perhaps use a pseudonym, or at least not write “Coach” with your location of Perry, GA in the bio. I didn’t need CIA credentials to find you.
  3. And finally, if you have the balls to post something with absolutely no regard or respect, AT LEAST have the balls to stand by it and defend it. The greatest irony is for you to run and hide like you’ve done, as THAT is the most un-American thing to do.

We Americans don’t go cower and hide, if you haven’t noticed. Yes, even us colored ones that you discount. How’s that job at _____________ (edit 7/19 by Grace: link to school deleted; a tweet is neither their responsibility nor should it reflect on them) working out for you, by the way?

Most Sincerely, Grace — born in NYC, if it really matters that much.


Edited to add on July 19 @3:35PM:
I’ve since received a comment from Ken Fowler and approved it for inclusion in the comments below. Please feel free to see his explanation. Of the many, many tweets posted at the same time on this evening, it’s plausible that as he says, his Twitter account was hacked. It’s not my place to decide whether this is true or not, or to pick his response apart, but to be fair, I do want to make note of Ken’s response as some may or may not read the comment section. The objective of this post was never about one individual. His was not the worst or most bigoted post, and I could have easily picked a handful of other people just as easy to find in the barrage of racist tweets on that one evening. I singled out a couple people to support my piece, but it’s not about one individual. It’s about the whole mentality and view on what is, or isn’t an “American”, and who is, or isn’t entitled to sing a beautiful song about America. This is just my part in how I feel as the Korean-American daughter of a man and woman who, 48 years ago, decided to choose this great land as their home.  –Grace.

Grace Keh About Grace Keh
Grace Keh is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to San Francisco" and the critic, editor and photographer behind San Francisco Food. In her regular day job, she consults for corporate clients in marketing and event strategy. Once the sun sets, she's on the hunt for great food in what she considers to be one of the world's greatest cities, San Francisco.