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November 11, 2018

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PaulB

You're finding a political meaning that no one at the time saw. If you want to play that game, wouldn't it be more accurate to suggest that Berlin is putting down the far left intellectuals that then and now did not believe in either God or America?

Steve L.

A song can have more than one meaning or message. "God Bless America" was a patriotic response to those who did not believe in America, but it was even more obviously a response -- as clearly stated in the introduction -- to the storm clouds of Fascism that were gathering in Europe.

The song itself, in a slightly earlier form, had actually been written in 1918, only a few months after Berlin became a naturalized citizen. He decided that it wasn't right for the musical he was working on, and he put it aside for the next 20 years. He revived it, refined it, and added the introduction for Kate Smith, who requested it in 1938. There is no doubt that it was intended as a "message" song.

There is a broad consensus that "God Bless America" is a song of inclusion, reflected in its invocation of "my home, sweet home." Berlin was acutely aware of his status as an immigrant and a Jew; and if he hadn't been aware, well, there were plenty of nativists eager to remind him.

There have been occasional calls to make "God Bless America" our national anthem, which Berlin himself rejected.

But speaking of the far left, Woody Guthrie is said to have written "This Land Is Your Land" as a response to "God Bless America."

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During these dreadful times, it takes a French President to remind us of our values, morals and principles. Those ideals of inclusion expressed by Berlin are not left or right, but American. Folks such as President Reagan and Senator McCain stood for those values and expressed them regularly. I am not sure what game you are referring to, PaulB?

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One more thing, while Donald Trump sends military fighters to the border to prevent the tired and poor from entering, President Eisenhower sent the same military to desegregate Little Rock Central High School. Inclusion if you ask me...

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