Was Glenn Beck born in a U.S.A. where criticism is anti-American?

In an effort to critically analyze another piece of pop music, Glenn Beck and his sidekicks reached the conclusion that Bruce Springsteen's 1984 hit “Born in the U.S.A.” is critical of America and, therefore, unpatriotic. In fact, the song was deemed so unpatriotic by the former shock jock's crew that co-host Pat Gray declared it to be “anti-American.” This simplistic version of patriotism appears to leave little room for any criticism of America, its policy, or the behavior of its people.

After Gray revisited Beck's earlier deconstruction of Woody Guthrie's “This Land Is Your Land,” the gang turned its collective attention to Springsteen, with Gray getting the ball rolling by noting that Fourth of July fireworks displays often include “Born in the U.S.A.” in the musical medley. Beck then broke into a spoken word version of the song:

Born down in a dead man's town

The first kick I took was when I hit the ground

You end up like a dog that's been beat too much

'Til you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam

And so they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to Vietnam

To go kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A.

Come back home to the refinery

Hiring man said, son if it were up to me

I go down to see the VA man

He said, son you don't understand

This went on for some time, until Beck concluded, “Where are the fireworks?”

Now, in a 2008 interview with CBS' Scott Pelley, Springsteen actually addressed the notion that his music and its message are somehow unpatriotic because they challenge America and its citizens to live up to their ideals, stating, “It's unpatriotic at any given moment to sit back and let things pass that are damaging to some place that you love so dearly.” Springsteen added, “There's a part of the singer going way back in American history that is of course the canary in the coalmine. When it gets dark, you're supposed to be singing.”

Just don't sing an anti-American tune.