To put it mildly, I am not a fan of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I think we need a different song. (More)

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Short Quiz:

1.What year was “The Star-Spangled Banner” officially made our national anthem?

A. 1776 B. 1812 C. 1918 D. 1931 Answer here

2. Francis Scott Key was one of the founding fathers

A. True B. False

3. The music was originally a British Pub song

A. True B. False Answer here

4. The flag Key “hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming” did not fly “through the perilous fight.”

A. True B. False Answer here

5. The fourth verse is a racist rant.

A. True B. False Answer here

If you didn’t want to click all the links, the answers are 1-D, 2-B, 3-A, 4-A, and 5-A. The answers are a small hint as to why I think “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be retired as our national anthem. It glorifies war and embraces slavery. It promotes the glory of war and I happen to think we’d be better off dropping bread than dropping bombs. I am not a total pacifist but I think war pops up as our first choice rather than our last alternative. It is also incredibly difficult to sing.

More on the fourth verse from the root

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.

In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British invaders. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. Perhaps that’s why it took almost 100 years for the song to become the national anthem.

Black people fighting for their freedom or for justice have never had an easy time of it in this country. If we are taking down Confederate statues, maybe it’s also time to consider a new national anthem.


Credit: Adobe Stock Images. Standard License.