Few things are more American than saying the Pledge of Allegiance or singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's certainly not mandatory for a political rally to include one or both. But, if you do tell the folks attending that it's time for the national anthem, then you might understand the confusion if they hear something that seems entirely different.
Gateway Pundit notes that a week ago Wednesday, Vice President Biden rolled into Reno to help Harry Reid. They held a rally at the University of Nevada Reno. The audience was asked to rise for the singing of the anthem. But what they heard was probably not what they expected.
Native American singer Christina Thomas, a student at the school, shared a Native American message in word and song. KSFO-AM talk host Barbara Simpson played the audio on her program. After some set up by Barbara, the key part begins around the 2:20 mark:
I spoke by phone with the young woman who sang the song. This is Cristina Thomas:
Here is Christina performing earlier this year:
I contacted Thomas on Sunday afternoon, and she promptly called me back. She was unaware of any controversy over her appearance at the Reid rally. In her view, this involved miscommunication with the person who introduced her. Thomas says she has performed at Reid events in the past. Sometimes she has performed "The Star-Spangled Banner." Other times she has performed what she describes as a Native American "Flag Song."
Thomas says that she was contacted by Sen. Reid's office to perform at the event with Vice President Biden. She says she was offered a choice of either singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" or performing the "Flag Song." She choose the "Flag Song."
Thomas says there are many tribal variations of patriotic anthems and that the version she sings in Northern Paiute has lyrical roots back to a World War II veteran. She often performs it for veteran's groups and she does ask people to stand as they do for "The Star-Spangled Banner." "We feel proud of this country," she explained.
At the Reid event, she was surprised to hear the emcee introduce her to sing the national anthem. She says she quickly tried to explain that she was going to sing a different song. She said some words in Northern Paiute and then sang the Flag Song.
Thomas strikes me as a pleasant and sincere young woman. She says she is in the process of having "The Star-Spangled Banner" translated into Paiute so that she can perform it that way sometimes.
It does seem to me that if there is any blame here -- it probably lies with the Reid campaign. It doesn't seem likely that the emcee would wing it with a guess that the singer was going to perform the National Anthem. This wasn't "just another" campaign stop. With Vice President Biden on the bill you would think they would be trying to put forward their A-game. It is plausible to me that a Reid staffer may have felt that a Native American Flag Song could substitute for "The Star-Spangled Banner." Somebody screwed up.
If this story sounds a little familiar...maybe you recall what happened in 2008 at Denver's "State of the City" ceremony. Before the mayor gave his address, they introduced singer Rene Marie to sing the national anthem. She then performed "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song that is considered by some to be the "Black National Anthem."
This did not go over well: