On Tuesday night, Latino superstar Marc Anthony, the Grammy-award-winning and multi-platinum artist, sang a stunning rendition of “God Bless America” at the 2013 MLB All Star Game in New York City’s Citi Field. As Anthony’s voice filled the stadium, the camera reflected spectators and athletes of all races joining in song.

But what should have been a moment of national unity and patriotism, instead turned into a moment highlighting a persistent ugliness in American culture: prejudice against Latinos.

The message seems to be: Latinos who do not assimilate will be attacked; while Latinos who do assimilate (as most do) and are fiercely proud of this nation, such as Anthony, will also be attacked nonetheless, perhaps even more viciously.

- A.J. Delgado

While Anthony, who was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, performed, a not-insignificant number of viewers took to Twitter to express their displeasure – and expose their hate. Some of the Tweets included:

“Why is some Spanish [expletive] singing God Bless America at the All-Star Game? That’s just wrong”

“Why the [expletive] is a spic singing God Bless America?

“Welcome to America where god bless America is sung at our national pastime by a mexican”

“Shouldn’t an AMERICAN be signing God Bless America? #getoutofmycountry #allstargame

Letting a Spanish guy sing God Bless America really hurts my heart. Figure it out America #USA

Is it a little ironic the guy singing God Bless America at the All Star game isn’t American? [When someone corrected with “he’s from New York” the author of the Tweet replied: “doesn’t look like it”.]

[To view some of the other Tweets, click here.]  

Was there cause for any offense to be taken or was the performance culturally insensitive in any way? No. Was Anthony draped in a Puerto Rican flag? No. Was Anthony performing the song in Spanish? No. It thus seems the disgust was simply over a Latino singing a patriotic American classic. The message seems to be: Latinos who do not assimilate will be attacked; while Latinos who do assimilate (as most do) and are fiercely proud of this nation, such as Anthony, will also be attacked nonetheless, perhaps even more viciously.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident but rather reminiscent of the vitriol leveled against 11-year-old Mexican-American Sebastien de la Cruz of San Antonio, TX, who sang the national anthem during the NBA finals in June.

Worth noting, over a dozen individuals openly Tweeted their ignorant, hateful remarks using what appears to be their actual Twitter accounts with real names: what, then, does that say regarding just how acceptable it is to publicly attack – or, at best, sneer at – Latinos?

And all this begs the question: when and under what circumstances will Latinos be truly embraced in America? If an American success story such as Marc Anthony, born and bred in New York City, who speaks perfect English, singing ‘God Bless America,’ at a baseball game (does it get any more ‘apple pie’ than that?) is mocked as a foreigner and an outsider… will Latinos ever be accepted by all Americans, as Americans?

The answer, if this shameful incident sheds any light on the matter, is a frightening one.

A. J. Delgado is a graduate of Harvard Law School who writes about conservative politics and pop culture. You may find her on Twitter at @missADelgado

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