Is the National Anthem of the United States Racist?

Traveling around the world means visiting countries and experiencing customs which are different than the ones where you live; and among what comprises the identity of a nation are the flag, its people — and its national anthem.

Is the National Anthem of the United States Racist?

A few bars of God Save the Queen and people recognize the national anthem of Great Britain; and many people are familiar with O Canada, which is the national anthem of…er…Canada, of course…

…but if Alice A. Huffman has her way, the Star Spangled Banner would be immediately replaced with a different song as the official national anthem of the United States.

“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,” the current president of the California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said, according to this article written by Shirin Rajaee for KHTK-TV Channel 13 News in Sacramento. “It’s racist; it doesn’t represent our community, it’s anti-black.”

Of note is the lyric in the third stanza of the Star Spangled Banner, which is highlighted in bold dark red type:

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
‘Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

According to this article written by Beatrice Dupuy for Newsweek, Francis Scott Key — who wrote the song and fought in court to help slaves — also opposed abolition, owned slaves and once remarked that blacks were “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.”

Summary

My initial reaction to this news was that the national anthem should not be changed — but then I remembered over the years how many people thought that America the Beautiful should be the national anthem of the United States:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Another candidate could have been My Country, ’Tis of Thee — also known as America — but one major issue is that it uses the same melody as God Save the Queen:

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

I am not convinced that the Star Spangled Banner is a racist song — whenever I hear it, I think of the American flag and not of exclusion, discrimination or unfairness to any race, religion, gender, age, sexual preference or political view — but if it is proven to be one, should it be replaced as part of the current movement to replace confederate monuments and statues across the United States?

If the national anthem is indeed replaced, does it affect the identity of the United States to people from other countries — especially pertaining to them traveling to and visiting the United States?

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

10 thoughts on “Is the National Anthem of the United States Racist?”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Your massive forehead is more racist

  2. Ryan says:

    Dumbest post ever. So dumb

  3. Gene says:

    @ Ryan — Really? I an white, and I think our national anthem is racist. It should be put in a museum, alongside confederate statues and Donald Trump’s hair.

    1. Brady says:

      @Gene – Really? I an white, and I think our national anthem isn’t racist. Guess we’re even.
      Just curious, how long have you thought it was racist? Admit it, you never gave our national anthem a second thought until just now when someone on the race-obsessed Left gave you your marching orders. And like a good sheep in your group-think you fall into line and regurgitate the Left’s latest boring “Racism!!” charge. Try thinking for yourself. Much more enjoyable life.

      1. Gene says:

        @ About 16 years, since my African-American spouse showed me the lyrics. I guess knowing real facts makes me Leftist? Remember, Mr. Trump loves the uneducated. I would too if they got me elected President.

        1. Andy says:

          With all due respect, I’m fairly certain that your African-American spouse was at no point a “slave”. I might even go so far as to say that your spouse probably never met anyone who was a slave. Just so you know, African-Americans aren’t the only people who have remote ancestry rooted in slavery. Almost every nation, race & ethnic group can find slavery & indentured servitude in their ancestry (yes, including Whites).

  4. Nick says:

    South Africa which was basically founded by the same Colonial powers had to get a new flag and new anthem. Isn’t it time the USA got a new anthem, and while we’re at it the Stars and Stripes is probably racist as well?

  5. Vicente says:

    Yes, racist. And it’s damnably hard to sing!

    Also I agree with Teddy Roosevelt, the Eagle was a terrible choice.

  6. DaninMCI says:

    Let me make a wild guess that these same folks don’t want to replace it with “God Bless America”?

    It does seem racist but since we never sing the second verse could we just change it? Idk.

    Oh and saying this is terrible, hateful and racist but then attacking others in your comments seems odd.

  7. phoenix says:

    Or one can take a tack from Canada, and simply tweak it.

    “From all thy sons command” to “From all of us command”

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