Replace ‘racist’ Star-spangled banner as national anthem with ‘Lean on Me’, says LA Times commentary
- Jody Rosen wrote an essay explaining that the anthem has been viewed as ‘racist, elitist, sexist’ and claimed that today it feels like ‘a crude relic’
- ‘The wave of reckoning and revisionism that is sweeping the country may have to come for the national anthem,’ the columnist wrote
- Rosen’s piece was widely mocked by those who are opposed to ‘cancel culture’
A Los Angeles Times columnist has called for The Star-Spangled Banner to be ‘cancelled’ as the national anthem and replaced by ‘Lean On Me.’
Jody Rosen described how a statue of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics, had been toppled in San Francisco on June 20 by Black Lives Matter protesters.
Rosen argued that this was not simply due to Key’s ownership of slaves, but that it was also because of racist attitudes in the song and its ‘Anglophile’ tone.
He wrote: ‘The wave of reckoning and revisionism that is sweeping the country may have to come for the national anthem.’
Rosen wrote: ‘The wave of reckoning and revisionism that is sweeping the country may have to come for the national anthem’
Key’s poem, ‘The Defence of Fort M’Henry,’ was written to commemorate an American victory during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812, during which the British Royal Navy was successfully repulsed.
Rosen refers to a couplet which some historians have claimed is racist. The lines of Key’s third stanza: ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.’
Bill Withers performs live on stage playing an acoustic guitar in concert at Hammersmith Odeon in London, 18th November 1972
Historians dispute what is meant by the poet’s phrase. Some argue that Key refers to escaped slaves fighting alongside the British – who promised the men their freedom in exchange for their loyalty on the battlefield.
Other scholars claim that ‘slaves’ is used figuratively to describe the subjects of the British monarch – the redcoats – fighting against free American patriots.
But Rosen introduces further claims against ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ which he roots in its Anglophile tone.
‘It’s not an especially American song.’ Rosen writes. ‘Its lyrics are ornate and Anglophile, with syntax that frustrates the efforts of normal human Americans to follow along — to deduce who or what, exactly, is gleaming and streaming.’
Furthermore, he’s opposed to the music itself which he says is ‘as British as beef Wellington’ because it was transposed from the anthem of a London gentleman’s club.
The columnist discusses various alternatives to the anthem – John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ Irving Berlin’s ‘God Bless America’, Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’ – but says they won’t do.
Rosen concludes that the song required, ‘at a moment when the United States is in the grip of multiple crises,’ is Bill Wither’s ‘Lean On Me.’
The 1972 soul classic he admits might seem like a strange choice – and many were able to agree with him on that aspect of his long essay.
In this Oct. 2, 2016, file photo, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, in Santa Clara, California
The conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted: ‘Let’s replace it with ‘Everybody’s Special’ from Barney and Friends.’
Representative Jim Banks (R-IN), said: ‘First they wanted you to kneel, and now they want to replace the national anthem. This is an erasure of our history and tradition–plain and simple.’
Media reporter at The Hill, Joe Concha, said: ‘Let’s just Etch-a-Sketch everything and start the country from scratch, shall we? Saves time..’
Rosen believes ‘Lean On Me’ would be successful as a new national anthem because it is without ‘bombast’ and directs the singer/listener to look to their everyday lives instead of the glorious, celestial and majestic.
He writes: ‘What’s important is the stuff happening down here. The dramatis personae are you, me, all of us. We the people.’