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O Say Can You See, Let’s Replace Our National Anthem

As the progressive woke continue their task of destroying America’s history, the national anthem is the next American symbol that is being considered problematic. Last week, protestors in San Francisco tore down the statue of Francis Scott Key, the composer of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This has raised questions about the fitness of America’s current national anthem. Why? Because Francis Scott Key owned slaves, and because of this, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is now tainted in white supremacy and racism. Just like the rest of America’s history. 

Because “The Star-Spangled Banner” is now problematic, activist and journalist Kevin Powell believes it is now time for the song to be replaced by “a new anthem with a less troubling history and a more inclusive message.” Talking with Lyndsey Parker, Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo! Music, Powell claims that “The Star-Spangled Banner” teaches violence. As Powell explains, “‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is riddled with violence. How are you criticizing a rap song for being violent, but when we get to kindergarten, we are literally teaching children violence through song?” 

Powell also claims that the national anthem is problematic because the anthem mentions the word “slave” in the third stanza. As the third stanza reads (bold emphasis mine): 

“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion

A home and a Country should leave us no more?

Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.

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.”

But as the fact-checking website Snopes pointed out in 2017, it is unclear whether Francis Scott Key meant “slave” as a reference to either blacks in slavery during the early-1800’s, British impressment (the way in which the British would capture sailors and force them to serve in the British Navy), or as a more broad reference to the invading British army. 

A look at the history of the events surrounding the composition of our national anthem presents an explanation to the meaning of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and why the song is an inspiration to those who sing and listen to it. 

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written in 1814 during the midst of the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States. Interestingly enough, Francis Scott Key, a lawyer residing in Washington, D.C., had actually been in opposition to the war, being one of many Americans who preferred that the Madison Administration had embraced diplomacy with the British instead of being sucked into declaring war by the “war hawks” in Congress. Key had gone so far as to call the war a “lump of wickedness,” according to author Donald Hickey

Nevertheless, Key found himself stuck on a British warship off of the coast of Baltimore in September of 1814. He had just finished negotiating the release of a friend, but was forced to stay on the ship when the British decided to launch an attack on Baltimore, with their first target being Fort McHenry. After a night of bombardment, Key was able to look up and see the American flag still waving. The relief that he felt at the sight became the motivation for him to compose the lyrics that would become our national anthem.

Key’s words stand as a reminder of both his and our stirring pride in America’s ability to endure whatever harsh circumstances come our way. This is an important reminder that we need today. 

The calls for replacing “The Star-Spangled Banner” because Francis Scott Key owned slaves or because he was “close” to Andrew Jackson is a sorry example of what is going on in the United States today. The tearing down of our statues that were erected to honor great Americans and to remind us of our history (Confederate statues are different) are an attempt at purging the United States of our past sins to build a more utopian future. 

Ironically, many of the rioters who are bringing down these statues do not even know who they are actually bringing down, nor do they know the reasoning why some of the statues are even up. For instance, calls to bring down a statue of a slave kneeling before Abraham Lincoln has been called offensive and a “reminder that [African-American] freedom and liberation only lies with white people” as one protestor put it. Many do not even know that this statue is based on a real event that happened with Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. In April of 1865, days before his assassination, Lincoln was visiting Richmond, Virginia when a black man kneeled at the feet. Lincoln responded to the man, “Don’t kneel to me. That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will enjoy hereafter.” 

In an attempt to remind the United States of its need to live out the ideals of our founding, the woke mob has instead favored doing everything it can to purge America of its history and its continuous fight for liberty, justice, and equality. As Senator Marco Rubio recently put it, 

“[The woke mob] are the ones that argue because the men who wrote our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were imperfect and in some cases racist, the nation their words gave birth to is beyond redemption—that America cannot be improved and therefore it must come to an end….The anti-American radicals don’t care about racial equality. And they will not stop as long as everyone is afraid to call them out for who and for what they are.” 

America needs to be taught once again our history, flaws and all. We need to be taught once again about our past sins, but also about our great gains in the fight for equality. We must be taught about slavery, but we also must be taught about how it was weakened through the political and economic systems our Founding Fathers put into place. We must be taught about our short swim in imperialism, but also about how we set up the liberal international order that expanded freedom worldwide and destroyed the Soviet Union. 

One final point. For those that question the beauty of our national anthem, I will leave this video of “The Star-Spangled Banner” being performed at Buckingham Palace just two days after the September 11 attacks. Watch, and tell me that you were not moved.

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