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Opinion: When U.S.A! U.S.A! chant is not patriotic
February 26th, 2013
05:50 PM ET

Opinion: When U.S.A! U.S.A! chant is not patriotic

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor

San Diego (CNN) - It never occurred to me that the chant "U.S.A, U.S.A!" - something you might hear from enthusiastic sports fans at the World Cup or the Olympics - could be used as an insult. That is, until I saw (and heard) it for myself.

Before I tell that story, let's be clear. Chanting "U.S.A, U.S.A!" is fine; what matters is the context, the intent behind the chant. And that isn't always easy to discern.

It's great if the people chanting are just trying to celebrate a magnificent country. Part of what makes the United States so special in the first place is that we're also an extremely diverse country. The national motto may be "e pluribus unum" (of many, one), but Americans should always strive to cherish and celebrate those cultural differences that make us unique. This means respecting one another as equals.

So it's not so great if the idea of raising one's voice in a group display is to try to put another group of Americans in its place by implying - solely because of race, ethnicity, heritage or skin color - that they're not real Americans or "not American enough." Whatever that means.

That is when the chanting can become really offensive. Patriotism is one thing, racial or ethnic putdowns are another. In recent years, we've seen far too many examples of the latter.

In fact, recently, a group of students at Camarillo High School, northwest of Los Angeles, were ejected after leading a rally at a basketball game against a rival school. The students first showed up at the game wearing American flag bandanas, but school officials asked that they remove them. When they refused, they were told to leave the auditorium. They did, but defiantly returned soon after still wearing the bandanas. Then they whipped the crowd into a frenzy by chanting "U.S.A, U.S.A!" That's when they were asked to leave the premises, and report to the principal the next day.

Read Ruben Navarrette's full column
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. notraitors

    Hey Maui, I thought the INDIANS owned the land first. As usual you liberals contradict yourselves.

    We'll give California back to the Mexico when they give Mexico back to the Aztecs and Incas

    March 1, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AniyunweahCherokee

    Im cherokee my friend...and I WILL chant USA all day long and aim it straight at the mesos that claim this is their land. Its not their land...its my peoples land! USA!

    March 1, 2013 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Gi Jon

    How dare you rubben that chant is only unpatriotic to non Americans and i think its a crime to not be able to wear the stars and stripes proudly because illegal mexicans find it offensive you see we as Americans have something called the first amendment which is being infringed upon because of political correctness for illegals i find it highly offensive when anchor babies and illegals protest in American streets begging for rights they don't deserve and flying a mexican flag

    February 27, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • notraitors

      Gi, they don't beg, they DEMAND

      March 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |