Let America Be America Again

A friend just passed along this link, which made me laugh. Turns out that Laura Bush just cancelled a planned poetry celebration after learning that one of the invited speakers had encouraged his colleagues to use the event as an opportunity to publicly denounce war on Iraq.

“It came to the attention of the First Lady’s Office that some invited guests want to turn what is intended to be a literary event into a political forum,” a White House statement said. “While Mrs. Bush understands the right of all Americans to express their political views, this event was designed to celebrate poetry.”

Why do I find this amusing? Because the event was intended to celebrate the poetry of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, and Langston Hughes — a homosexual, an atheist intellectual, and a radical Old Left Communist (grossly reductionist caricatures, but you get the point). Apparently Mrs. Bush thinks that readings of Whitman, Dickenson, and Hughes at the White House should be devoid of political content.

Hopefully they’ll work out their differences real soon, though. I’d love to hear President Bush reading Hughes’s “Let America Be America Again.” I mean, can you think of a more patriotic title for a poem?