One particular wokescold wants to “cancel” the national anthem and replace it with a popular hit from the 1970s. Good luck with that.
On Tuesday, Jody Rosen, an opinion contributor at the Los Angeles Times, began his very lengthy column denouncing the recently-toppled San Franciso monument of Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner, as “imposing and fussy.” Rosen wrote that the statue that used to sit in Golden Gate Park was one of those “old-fashioned pieces of public art” that really “laid it on thick” with fluted colonnades, four eagles, and classical elements, standing at 52-feet tall. But on June 20, the bronze statue of Key in the center of it was yanked off of his pedestal during the protests turned “woke” cultural revolution.
Rosen then notes that Francis Scott Key probably deserved it since he was a slave owner and that both Key and the lyrics he wrote have been under fire by leftists who see racism everywhere for years.
I wonder if Colin Kaepernik critics realize the Star Spangled Banner was written by a slave owner to defend slavery? https://t.co/7HypQ81T3x
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) August 27, 2016
Rosen notes that although there has been much criticism of the “elitist, racist, and sexist” verses in the poem Defense of Fort M’Henry from which the anthem was adapted, the controversy really centers around one couplet–“No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.” He does note, however, that although some have decried the line as a racist “diss track to Black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom” it is more likely that Key was using the term “slaves” to refer to all British subjects loyal to the crown–including the British troops that Americans were fighting against when he wrote the anthem in 1812.
Jody Rosen then denigrates the “ornate and Anglophile” lyrics with syntax that is difficult to understand, and then Rosen attacks the music itself as “charmless and difficult to sing.”
The column notes that during this time of cultural upheaval where activists are desperately trying to actively erase any “problematic” item from our history, there have been sporadic calls to replace the anthem.
He then notes that there have been several suggestions. Kevin Powell recently suggested John Lennon’s “Imagine”, James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice And Sing” is a favorite go-to, as is “America the Beautiful”, and Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” Leftists who prefer a more secular option often suggest Woody Guthrie’s 1940 classic, “This Land Is Your Land” as an alternative to Berlin’s stirring and overtly patriotic tune.
Rosen finds problems with all of these songs–too British, antiquated, too religious, and colonialist.
Nope, none of these songs will do. At a moment when the United States is in the grip of multiple crises — convulsed by debates over racism and injustice, ravaged by a pandemic, with a crumbling economy and a faltering democracy — the very idea of a national anthem, a hymn to the glory of country, feels like a crude relic, another monument that may warrant tearing down. But if we must have an anthem, it should be far different than the one we’ve got now, positing another kind of patriotism, an alternative idea of America and Americanness. It would also be neat if it was, you know, a decent song, which a citizen could sing without crashing into an o’er or a thee, or being asked to pole vault across octaves.
But Rosen isn’t just decrying the situation as it is–he’s providing a solution to the problem. He suggests that we replace the national anthem with Bill Withers’ 1972 soul ballad, “Lean On Me.”
And he’s serious.
He notes that the popular song that, although simple, is American without paying homage to “problematic” things–the lyrics contain “no pastoral images of fruited plains or oceans white with foam, no high-minded invocations of liberty or God.” Rosen sees this as a good thing. Instead, it’s about how Americans are to rely on each other.
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on
On the original recording, these lines, delivered by Withers in a warm, commanding baritone, land as a simple statement of fact, stripped of sentimentality. This was typical of Withers, who died in March, at age 81, of coronary heart disease. He sang in the voice of a stoic but sensitive Regular Joe; the Roots drummer Questlove has called Withers “the last African American everyman.” As a songwriter, he was a master of concision, with a genius for boiling down stories to their essence, saying it all with simple chords and a few well-chosen words. Withers’ plainspokenness and gravitas made any song feel homespun — like a folk artifact that was discovered under a rock or pulled from loamy soil.
Source: L.A. Times
The song has been sung at recent protests, and out of the windows in New York when residents were in quarantine but still wanted to honor essential workers and First Responders–this was before they took to the streets to demand the defunding of the police.
I’m guessing Rosen probably isn’t a fan of the July 4 video put out by Black Rifle Coffee with their “Star-Spangled Steel” version of the anthem.
Rosen was (rightly) criticized openly for his blisteringly stupid take.
This is not an opinion piece.
The @latimes is explicitly calling for the Star-Spangled Banner to be "canceled" and replaced with 'Lean On Me' because it doesn't invoke "liberty or God" and isn't "about America."
This isn't about unity. This is about hating America. https://t.co/9WLaNatcra
— PragerU (@prageru) July 14, 2020
It's almost like they're trying to reelect Trump. https://t.co/Ln45XnL4FE
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) July 14, 2020
Let's just Etch-a-Sketch everything and start the country from scratch, shall we? Saves time…https://t.co/V259ieIecO
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) July 14, 2020
Let's replace it with "Everybody's Special" from Barney and Friends https://t.co/0qvctmhBuN
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 14, 2020
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. https://t.co/sPrFueaD1z
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) July 14, 2020
Those are all the blue-check brigade, but perhaps the most succinct take on the lengthy article was by this Twitter user:
In this article:
The national anthem ahouldn't be patriotic
The current anthem is racist because Key said "slaves" once
"Imagine" would be better (commie)
The national anthem should be a song about being weak and in need, Lean on Me
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you LA Times https://t.co/42WyxCCmPs
— TheDonald.win (@thedonalddotwin) July 14, 2020