Education

Ithaca College Professor: ‘God Bless America’ Is A ‘Warmongering’ Song

An Ithaca College professor calls the patriotic song “God Bless America” a “warmongering” song inappropriate for sporting events.

In a September 28 op-ed for the Ithacan, professor Stephen Mosher claimed that “expressions of hyper-patriotism” like the national anthem and songs like Irving Berlin’s God Bless America have “changed our ‘philosophy’ about what it means to be an ‘American’.

Mosher, who teaches “sport as political resistance” and “sport and popular culture” for Ithaca College’s Department of Communication Studies, claims that these songs should be banned from sporting events.

“Sporting events don’t need a national anthem,” he claims, adding that following the events of September 11, hyper-patriotism took hold and the song, “God Bless America,” took its place as an unofficial anthem for Americans.

He claims that many of these expressions and demonstrations “serve to minimize what real patriotism looks like,” pointing out that there is no requirement to hold a hand over your heart during the national anthem.

The professor recalls his time as a student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherts, where various events—including “so-called race riots, political assassinations, Olympic protests, and the disastrous Vietnam experience had altered [his] philosophy about the role sport plays in our society.”

He says that some black basketball players would turn their backs to the flag when the national anthem was being played, prompting fans to throw objects at them. He noted that even though these violent fans were removed from the game, nothing ever prompted the university to consider “NOT playing the national anthem.”

Mosher’s remarks come in the wake of NFL teams kneeling during the national anthem in protest of President Trump. The professor also takes issue with the use of the American flag on MAGA apparel and athletic uniforms, which he says violates the U.S. Flag Code.

“Of course, the most effective way to expose the jingoists spreading lies is to call their bluff that sports and politics shouldn’t mix,” he says. “To that end, why not simply abandon the practice? We don’t play the anthem before most church services or movies or concerts. The jingoists would have to find something else to be upset about, and those athletes who are concerned about issues of social justice could find alternative ways to bring those concerns to light.”

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.