Cancel Culture Is Coming After The National Anthem (Again)

They’ve tried before. Will they succeed this time? Will they push hard for this? It’s great how a Lindsay Parker, editor in chief of Yahoo Music, wants to censor music

Why it might be time to finally replace ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ with a new national anthem

In an increasingly antiracist era when problematic iconography — ranging from Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben to even the Dukes of Hazzard General Lee car and country band Lady Antebellum’s name — is being reassessed, revised or retired, America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” seems to be striking a wrong note.

Last week, protesters in San Francisco toppled a statue of the song’s composer, Francis Scott Key, a known slaveholder who once said that African-Americans were “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.” This week, Liana Morales, an Afro-Latinx student at New York’s Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts, refused to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at her virtual graduation ceremony, explaining to the Wall Street Journal, “With everything that’s happening, if I stand there and sing it, I’m being complicit to a system that has oppressed people of color.” Instead, Morales performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a hymn widely considered to be the “Black national anthem.”

So, is it time for this country to dispense with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and adopt a new anthem with a less troubling history and a more inclusive message? Historian and scholar Dr. Daniel E. Walker, the author of No More, No More: Slavery and Cultural Resistance in Havana and New Orleans and producer of the documentary How Sweet the Sound: Gospel in Los Angeles, says yes.

“The 53-year-old in me says, we can’t change things that have existed forever. But then there are these young people who say that America needs to live up to its real creed,” Walker tells Yahoo Entertainment. “And so, I do side with the people who say that we should rethink this as the national anthem, because this is about the deep-seated legacy of slavery and white supremacy in America, where we do things over and over and over again that are a slap in the face of people of color and women. We do it first because we knew what we were doing and we wanted to be sexist and racist. And now we do it under the guise of ‘legacy.’”

Most of this is about how Key grew up in a slave holding family and such, hence, the song is bad. Perhaps they want to replace it with hip hop, which extols misogyny, racism towards non-black, black supremacy, violence, and crime?

In fact “The Star-Spangled Banner,” based on a poem Key wrote about his eyewitness account of the War of 1812, originally featured a little-heard third stanza that was blatantly racist: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave/And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” While that version of the song is rarely performed today, Powell has been aware of it for years, and, like Morales, has therefore refused to sing the anthem since he was in high school in the 1980s, when he first learned of its history.

“I grew up in hip-hop,” says Powell, who used to write for Vibe magazine, “and I remember how people would criticize hip-hop for being violent. Yet ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is riddled with violence. How are you criticizing a rap song for being violent, but when we get to kindergarten, we are literally teaching children violence through song? I said, ‘I can’t participate anymore.’ So I stopped a long time ago.’”

Of course the song is riddled with violence: it was about the British bombing Ft McHenry during the War of 1812. Wars are rather violent. It was written as a poem, then set to music in 1931.

So, what can we use?

So, if “The Star-Spangled Banner” goes the way of the Confederate flag and Gone With the Wind, what should America’s new national anthem be? Whatever it is, Walker says there should be a formal “vetting process” to make sure the next anthem doesn’t have a terrible past; Powell, for his part, suggests John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which he says is “the most beautiful, unifying, all-people, all-backgrounds-together kind of song you could have.”

Yeah, no. A horrible, anti-religion, hardcore Socialist/Marxist song by a guy who mentally and physically abused his wife and child? Who treated women horribly?

But what about “Lift Every Voice and Sing”? That song, written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1900, set to music by his brother J. Rosamond Johnson in 1905, and first publicly performed as part of a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday by Johnson’s brother John, was dubbed “the Negro national hymn” by the NAACP in 1919. In more recent years, it has been referenced in Maya Angelou’s 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing; it was also performed in 1972 by Kim Weston as the opening number for the Wattstax festival and by Beyoncé during her celebrated 2018 Coachella set.

No thanks. That actually sounds rather racist if it is only about black people. How about Running Free by Iron Maiden?

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4 Responses to “Cancel Culture Is Coming After The National Anthem (Again)”

  1. alanstorm says:

    “…because this is about the deep-seated legacy of slavery and white supremacy in America…”

    Nope. Try again.

  2. alanstorm says:

    In fact “The Star-Spangled Banner,” based on a poem Key wrote about his eyewitness account of the War of 1812, originally featured a little-heard third stanza that was blatantly racist..”

    No, it’s not, and only a complete idiot could believe it. “Slave” in this context is referring to the Hessian mercenaries that the British used.

    • gitarcarver says:

      “Slave” in this context is referring to the Hessian mercenaries that the British used.

      There were no Hessian units fighting with the British in the War of 1812.

  3. Dana says:

    The left want a new national anthem? They’re probably looking at this.

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