In an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun, the author of a book about the history of the national anthem wondered if it might be time to revisit the Star Spangled Banner as our national anthem, since Francis Scott Key owned slaves.
“As the backlash against Confederate symbols continues to embroil flags, statues and the names of roads, icons related to slavery are becoming fair game for censure and removal,” author Marc Ferris wrote. “Perhaps the country should consider also replacing the national anthem because poet Francis Scott Key owned up to 20 other human beings.”
Calling the song “a national joke” because most Americans can’t sing it and don’t know the words, Ferris, author of “Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America’s National Anthem,” said the song “seems to glorify militarism and is the most controversial song in American history.”
“During the Civil War, Key’s entire line of descendants fought for the Confederacy,” Ferris wrote.
“In the 1890’s, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ accompanied the United States Navy on what can be interpreted as imperialistic exploits, from taking over Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the adventures of the Great White Fleet in the early 1900s,” he continued.
“Now, with a growing movement to tear down symbols associated with slavery, the status of Francis Scott Key’s composition — with its famous contradictory line about the ‘land of the free’ — warrants scrutiny,” he concluded. “Perhaps it is time to revisit the long standing debate about replacing the song that Americans love to complain about.”