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God Bless AmericaThe Surprising History of an Iconic Song$
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Sheryl Kaskowitz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199919772

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199919772.001.0001

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Through the Night (to the Right)

Through the Night (to the Right)

The Evolution of a Conservative Anthem

(p.68) Chapter 4 Through the Night (to the Right)
God Bless America

Sheryl Kaskowitz

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 focuses on the shifting meanings of “God Bless America” within the 70 years since its debut, tracing associations that have increasingly tilted toward the ideological right. It follows this rightward shift along three principal themes: 1) ethnicity and race, beginning with early associations with cultural tolerance and religious pluralism; 2) protest, which illustrates how the song’s conservative connections were forged and solidified during the social upheaval of the 1960s; and 3) political uses of the song and phrase, with a focus on Presidents Nixon and Reagan. Their uses of both the song and phrase not only show the song’s rightward ideological shift but also a general move away from communal singing in public life.

Keywords:   God Bless America, meanings, conservative, ethnicity, race, tolerance, protest, 1960s, politics, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, communal singing

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