Over on Facebook, a conservative friend of mine posited the question, “Someone, anyone… please enlighten me by pointing out the racist portion(s) of the following song lyrics:”, after which he quoted the Star Spangled Banner. I hesitate to respond directly on his post because of the shitstorm from the Trump-dittoheads that would ensue; instead, I’m responding on my forum.
First and foremost, the problem is not with the anthem itself, just as the fight against the Confederate statues is not about the specific statues, or the protests against the pledge are about the specifics of the pledge. The problem is with the underlying symbolism. Further, “racist” is the wrong term. “Problematic” would be much be much better.
So where is the problem? It is captured in the simple phrase, “Land of the free”. The problem is that our nation is not living up to that ideal.
Are we the “land of the free” when:
- A black US citizen cannot drive through a white neighborhood without being pulled over, while a white US citizen driving through a black neighborhood is not hassled?
- A brown US citizen cannot drive near the Mexican border without being stopped and asked about his immigration status, whereas a white US citizen driving near the Canadian border is not stopped?
- An Arab-American US citizen wearing a hijab is instantly suspect of being a terrorist, whereas the white guy buying the nitrogen and ammonia is not suspicious?
- When statistics show that brown and black citizens arrested as suspects by the police are more likely to be treated harshly, receive longer sentences, and be shown less lenience.
- Our President criticizes black football players for not standing up and putting their hand over their heart for the National Anthem, when he has been recorded not doing so?
By the way, when y’all go to church, how do you show respect to G-d? You kneal.
We say we are the Land of the Free, but we don’t demonstrate it as long as we discriminate against people based on conditions that are not of their choosing: skin color, country of origin or heritage, religion, sex, gender, orientation. People are choosing to show respect in a non-traditional form, because that which is different must be respected as well.