The California NAACP has come up with a ridiculous way to stop the NFL protests: Get rid of the national anthem. That’s about as logical as burning your whole house down to get rid of some mice and spiders.
The California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the storied civil rights group, has launched a campaign to ban “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem.
Their reasoning is that (1) it’s a racist song and (2) NFL players kneeled during the playing of the national anthem, which touched off a fierce backlash. If we want to end the NFL protests, we should get rid of this song entirely. The Sacramento Bee reports:
“We owe a lot of it to Kaepernick,” California NAACP President Alice Huffman said. “I think all this controversy about the knee will go away once the song is removed.”
Oh really? We thought that Colin Kaepernick and players across the league were protesting police brutality, not “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (But then again, their motivation is muddled as we recently learned they are kneeling for the wage gap too.)
If the protests are just about the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner,” why not play Lee Atwood’s “God Bless America?” Everything in society should be all good then, right?
The NAACP considers “The Star-Spangled Banner” racist because of the virtually unknown third stanza:
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
The song was written by Francis Scott Key, a slave owner and abolition opponent, and some interpretations conclude that his lyrics celebrated the deaths of slaves who joined British troops during the War of 1812 to gain their freedom.
It’s notable that “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been our national anthem for less than a century. President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional act declaring it the national song in 1931. Ironically, it was an anthem for the Union troops during the Civil War that gained popularity even afterward.
Don’t tell that to Hoffman. According to her:
“This song is wrong; it shouldn’t have been there, we didn’t have it ’til 1931, so it won’t kill us if it goes away.”
“This is not about the flag. We love the flag. This is about a song that should never have been the national anthem. This country is a country that has shared values, and the more we respect each other, the better off we’ll be as a country,” said Huffman.
So, the group is peddling their bill in hopes that some member of Congress will run with it and open the door to changing our national anthem.
As Americans, there’s nothing wrong in a dialogue about our national symbols. Unfortunately, that is not what the California NAACP is trying to do.
This is another battlefront in the war to fractionalize Americans along racial lines to exploit those differences for political gain. The national anthem is meant to unify us and remind us that regardless of our heritage, we are Americans.
There are problems with our justice system, but kneeling during the national anthem has done little to address them. Instead, it’s become a line in the sand – either you’re us or with them.
Does the California NAACP take criminal justice reform so tritely that they think getting rid of the national anthem will solve these problems? If so they are missing the big picture or they don’t really care.