(The Progressive) -- The magnificent and historic protests of our nation’s athletes during The Star-Spangled Banner at their sports games are not merely appropriate—they’re long overdue.
The protests rightly focus on the travesties perpetrated against our citizens of color. That highly-paid professional athletes would risk their careers to take this stand is a powerful tribute to the devastating impact racial injustice is having on our society, and to their courage as individuals. The National Football League owners’ blacklisting of the superbly talented Colin Kaepernick is hard evidence of what such an exercise of free speech can cost in today’s America.
But there’s also another dimension here. The fact is that our national anthem is a terrible song, with racist and militaristic overtones. It needs to be replaced, maybe by a single more appropriate anthem…or maybe by many.
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The lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner were written by Francis Scott Key, a slaveowner. He was celebrating the failure of the British to conquer Baltimore in the War of 1812. The Brits had just burned our nation’s capital, partly in response to our burning their Canadian headquarters at York, now Toronto.