An army of progressives is coming for the Star Spangle Banner.
Capitalizing on the opportunity afforded by Colin Kaepernick’s high-profile protest of the song Friday, progressives are decrying the beloved song as racist and calling for its removal as the national anthem because of a line in the lesser known third verse (which isn’t officially included in the national anthem).
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” the 49er’s quarterback told NFL Media Friday, after he refused to stand when the anthem played before his game. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” he added.
While ticked off NFL fans began churning out memes labeling Kaepernick as unpatriotic and burning Kaepernick’s 49ers jerseys, progressives raced to explain why the song is racist. “Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery” gushed a headline from the Intercept.
“I wonder if Colin Kaepernik critics realize the Star Spangled Banner was written by a slave owner to defend slavery?” Tweeted self-described anti-racism strategist Tariq Nasheed.
“Almost no one seems to be aware that even if the U.S. were a perfect country today, it would be bizarre to expect African-American players to stand for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,'” Jon Schwarz writes in the Intercept piece. “Why? Because it literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.”
At issue is the third verse of the song, which ends with the lines:
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.
Francis Scott Key wrote the song the morning after the British bombarded Fort McHenry toward the end of the War of 1812, when he saw the American flag still waving. In these lines of the third verse he’s celebrating the death of slaves and mercenaries who opted to fight for the British in exchange for their freedom following the war.
“The national anthem should be battle hymn of the republic or lift evry voice,” Atlantic senior editor Adam Servianski tweeted Monday, piling on the criticism.
Fuse TV producer Mark Sundstrom joined in the call for a new anthem, with a tongue in cheek suggestion of Beyonce’s hit “Formation” as the replacement.
Others re-upped a post from the Baltimore Sun published last year in the wake of calls for the removal of the Confederate flag from public property, with the headline: “‘The Star Spangled Banner’: a slave-owner’s anthem?”
“Perhaps the country should consider also replacing the national anthem because poet Francis Scott Key owned up to 20 other human beings,” Marc Ferris wrote in the piece.
“Read @DrJasonJohnson on the little-known 3rd verse of the “Star-Spangled Banner” if you want to hate everything,” chimed in Buzzfeed reporter Joel D. Anderson.
“For all the idiots who think the Star Spangled Banner is some holy grail of music -” tweeted Atlantic staffwriter Adrienne LaFrance, linking back to the Intercept piece.
“Francis Scott Key considers the idea of racial equality… then absolutely rejects it,” a sports reporter tweeted, along with photos of two quotes from Key. “Yay, ‘Star Spangled Banner’!”
Taking a slightly different angle, the Guardian published a story giving Kaepernick extra cudos for the move because he hasn’t been playing well, saying that only makes his protest “all the more brave.”
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