From sporting events to political rallies, and Fourth of July firework shows, the American people have long sung “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there…”, but now the “rockets red glare” and “bombs bursting in air” are more like water bottles thrown at police officers and rubber bullets flying through the air.
How times have changed!
With companies, music artists, and cartoons quickly changing their names over the past few weeks, will the United States national anthem be next?
On Wednesday, Yahoo music editor, Lydnsey Parker, argued in a column that “It might be time to finally replace ‘The Star Spangled Banner’” because of its “blatantly racist” connotations, according to The Hill.
Parker attempted to support her radical claim by citing historians and activists who pointed to the national anthem’s composer, Francis Scott Key’s, ties to anti-abolitionists and an often-unsung third stanza about slaves.
Human-rights activist Kevin Powell told Yahoo that Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who prosecuted abolitionists, “did not believe in freedom for all people.” “And yet, we celebrate him with this national anthem, every time we sing it,” Powell said.
The column comes amid nationwide riots against racial injustice after the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
Parker also pointed to a story from The Wall Street Journal in which an Afro-Latina student says she asked to sing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” supposedly known as the black national anthem, when she was asked to sing The Star-Spangled Banner during graduation. The school approved the change after strong support from the senior class, according to the Journal.
The column has come under strong criticism from some commentators, including former Fox News and NBC anchor Megyn Kelly.
“[T]here goes the national anthem,” Kelly wrote while retweeting the column.
And… there goes the national anthem… https://t.co/Jd6CH5GQGJ
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) June 25, 2020
Ben Shapiro sarcastically retweeted a portion of the Yahoo column in which human-right activist Powell suggests John Lennon’s “Imagine” to replace the Star Spangled Banner.
This is indeed the national anthem we deserve. Because we are a fallen people and fall further from God's grace each day. We must be punished with this final indignity. pic.twitter.com/za0bus100Y
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) June 25, 2020
“Powell may have support from actress Gal Gadot and her tribe of celeb friends, who chose ‘Imagine’ as a cringe-y coronavirus anthem earlier in the pandemic,” as reported by the NY Post.
Online petitions have also collected signatures to change the national anthem, including change.org’s “Change America’s National Anthem from ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ to ‘America The Beautiful.’ (A Civil Rights Issue).”