Los Angeles Times contributor Judy Rosen has called for “The Star-Spangled Banner” to be canceled.
America’s song is now too offensive for today’s culture, she argued in a lengthy Los Angeles Times piece.
In it, she also said cancel culture is not just after the National Anthem, but the man who wrote it—Francis Scott Key—as well.
In the center of the monument is the main attraction, a bronze statue of Key, the Washington, D.C., lawyer who, 206 years ago, wrote the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” to commemorate the American victory in the Battle of Baltimore, in the War of 1812. Key is captured in a heroic pose: enthroned on a big chair with pen in hand, looking every inch the sort of poetaster who would come up with lines like “O’er the ramparts we watched / Were so gallantly streaming.”
At least this is how the monument used to appear. Today, Francis Scott Key is no longer in Golden Gate Park. On June 20, protesters lassoed the statue with ropes, heaved and hoed, and down came Key, somersaulting off the pediment, head o’er heels. Key was a slave owner, like many of the historical personages whose statues have been defaced and destroyed in the Black Lives Matter uprising that followed the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. But it was also Key’s role as a songwriter — his famous ode to the land of the free and the home of the brave — that made him a target for protesters.
Rosen recognized the importance “The Star-Spangled Banner” has held in America for more than two hundred years, but said its time has come.
“It seems, the wave of reckoning and revisionism that is sweeping the country may have come for the national anthem,” she wrote.
Rosen explains a number of critics have argued “The Star-Spangled Banner” is racist in verbiage and interpretation; is not even American (but British); and, she quotes Frank Sinatra calling the song “a terrible piece of music.”
A song with words few people understand, which fewer can sing, whose sound and spirit bear no relation to our catchy, witty, unpretentious homegrown musical forms: Is this really what we want to hear when we “rise to honor America”?
Rosen said several other songs have already been pitched online as a possible replacement.
The suggestions include:
John Lennon’s “Imagine”
James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”
And, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”
But, Rosen argued none of the songs “will do.”
“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,” she said in the Los Angeles Times. “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.”
Her suggestion: Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”
Watch it below: