US poetess Katharine Lee Bates was feminist, lesbian, Christian socialist, anti-imperialist

Katharine Lee BatesKatharine Lee Bates was born on August 12, 1859.

Her poem “America the Beautiful“, set to music, is today sometimes sung by Right wingers in the USA, wallowing in chauvinist ‘patriotism’ (as in ‘Patriot Act‘).

Little do they know about its author and her intentions when writing: everything which the Bushes, Cheneys, Rumsfelds, and Pat Robertsons of today hate.

By Tim Yeager:

It is a little-known fact that America’s best loved song was written by a woman who was a feminist, a lesbian, a Christian socialist, and an ardent anti-imperialist.

Katherine Lee Bates was a pioneer, and a progressive advocate of social justice.

And she was a patriot in the best sense of the word.

She loved the land and the people of her birth, but she was critical of its weaknesses, and fought to make it a better, more just place.

America the Beautiful is a song that demands its listeners to open their eyes and ears to the injustices and corruption of capitalism.

It is a song of both love and criticism.

And it makes a distinction between the country we live in, and the wealthy and corrupt elite that rules it.

See also here.

USA: Sunday school teacher fired for being a woman.

The history of the reception of America the Beautiful somewhat reminds me of Hitler’s nazi party.

For the nazi party song, the Horst Wessel song, there apparently was no nazi clever enough to write the tune, which they then nicked from a Social Democrat song.

Authors on the nazis like Ernst Bloch had an expression for this stealing behaviour, also in other cases: Entwendungen aus der Kommune; taking from the Communist [enemies].

The pledge of allegiance, despised by many young radicals, was once the creation of an early Christian socialist. It refered to the republic as an almost unique concept, a revolutionary form of government. But the ascendency of the capitalist class quelled this revolutionary history, turning the pledge into an element of American nationalism: here.

Movies in the USA in the McCarthy period: here.

31 thoughts on “US poetess Katharine Lee Bates was feminist, lesbian, Christian socialist, anti-imperialist

  1. Please note: “Entwendungen aus der Kommune” the last word is not only pronounced as ‘commun(ity)’ – it should be translated in that way too. Bc it’s the same word,
    The whole phase means: casting someone out of the community (and leave him/her to die by exposure).
    It has no thing at all to do with communism. (Although: de nazi’s may have used this treatment with communist, when they were not shoot or sent to an concentration/ destructio camp.)


  2. Hello Jolande, thanks for your reply. Sorry that over sensitive anti spam software delayed its appearance.

    In nazi parlance, “die Kommune” in this context indeed was an expression for “the communists”, or, broader, also including Marxist-influenced social democrats. It also has in German the meaning which you write about. However, many words have more than one meaning.

    The expression “Entwendungen aus der Kommune” is found in this sense, referring to communists etc., in the writings of anti-Nazi philosopher Ernst Bloch.

    See eg


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