After a number of conservatives criticized the White House for sitting idly by while Chinese pianist Lang Lang tickled the ivories with an anti-American ballad at last week’s State Dinner for President Hu Jintao, the White House responded Monday condemning the criticism and insisting the song, “My Motherland,” was no insult to the United States.
As we reported Sunday, the pianist claims to have chosen the song because “playing the tune at the White House banquet can help us, as Chinese people, feel extremely proud of ourselves and express our feelings through the song.” The song was written for the 1956 Chinese war film, “Battle on Shangganling Mountain” which depicts PRC soldiers as the heroes and Americans as the bad guys.
Although Lang Lang performed the song without accompanying lyrics, the original song portrays Americans as wolves (or jackals), greeted by “the hunting rifle.”
Conservatives were quick to point out the misnomer. John Hayward, a writer for Human Events even compared playing the song at a White House state dinner to “an American president providing music from Rambo II during a state visit to Vietnam.”
The joke was not lost on Chinese internet writers who acclaimed Lang Lang’s choice of music. “It’s deeply meaningful to play this in the United States, but I don’t know if the Americans can understand? Ha ha,” Asia One news reports.
Radio and television host Glenn Beck went so far as to demand President Obama’s chief protocol officer be fired over the apparent gaffe:
But when asked about the mishap on Monday, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told ABC News that “any suggestion that [the song] was an insult to the United States is just flat wrong.”
“As Lang Lang has stated before, he plays this song regularly because it is one of his favorite Chinese melodies, which is very widely known and popular in China for its melody. Lang Lang played the song without lyrics or reference to any political themes during the entertainment portion of the State Dinner. He simply stated the song’s title and noted it was well known in China,” Vietor said.