New Candidates for National Anthem Can't Hold a Candle to the Original

The cancel culture cultists are busier than ever in their undisguised attempt to reimagine a wholly different America, one rising like a socialistic phoenix from the ashes of the old.

When public outrage to their toppling statues of Confederate leaders proved insufficiently confrontational, they broadened their pursuit to include more memorable historic figures.  Destroying symbols of America's past was never their ultimate goal.  It was merely a prelude to further, more substantive mischief.

In this respect, progressive activists are like self-centered children who don't know when to put a lid on their hijinks.  Like many in that selfie-centered generation, their immediate need is to stage attention-getting antics that might lead them to an elusive fifteen minutes of fame.

The more publicity they get, the wider and more brazenly they cast the net.  Thus, "reimagining the police" veered almost immediately into "defunding" them.  "Reimagining," after all, is a word that takes...well, some imagination.  "Defunding," on the other hand, is a negative word, one that breaks things down, not lifts them up — one that diminishes rather than improves.  It's not surprising that the Biden campaign has now chosen as its slogan "Build Back Better," since it suggests that to do so must first involve a considerable degree of destruction.

Now comes yet another diatribe on the need to rip something from the womb of America's past.  Not content to "take a knee" when our national anthem is played in stadiums, a "serious" editorial by Jody Rosen that recently appeared in the Los Angeles Times goes beyond genuflection, aiming instead for the solar plexus of American tradition.

To be fair, it is not the first opinion piece urging that Americans scrap "The Star-Spangled Banner."  But former complaints didn't take issue with the language of the anthem so much as with its rather complicated musical composition.  The tune scuttles across octaves like mice along drainpipes.  In sum, it is hard to sing, which may be why at sports and other public event the task of warbling "The Star- Spangled Banner" has been delegated to a professional singer.  Or at least hopefully one!

Yet with the exception of some kneelers down on the edge of the field, audiences have no issue with standing and recognizing the melody that Francis Scott Key used for the historic words he wrote back in 1814 when Baltimore's Fort McHenry was bombarded by the British.  It's been our national anthem for almost ninety years, yet now its lyrics are suddenly just too "hard" — too archaic — for Americans to wrap their tongues around, much less their minds.

As a result, getting rid of our present anthem has become part of "the dumbing down of America" movement, which feeds into our lowered expectations.  The anthem's syntax, we're admonished, is "as British as beef Wellington" and hence "frustrates the efforts of normal human Americans to follow along or keep up with such unfamiliar words as 'gleaming' and 'streaming.'"  Using that argument, we should no longer teach Shakespeare in our schools or trouble anyone with the difficult language of geometry that involves words like "isosceles," "scalene," and "equilateral."  (I imagine that this has already happened in places.)

And what is the critic's suggestion for a replacement?  He makes several, such as "Lift Every Voice and Sing," something akin to a black national anthem, which has already been mandated at pro football games.  (Nothing like uniting Americans by having two separate anthems!)

But Rosen's definitive choice is a soul ballad written in 1972 called "Lean on Me," which has a very different vibe from that of "The Star-Spangled Banner."  Gone are the uplifting phrases, the optimism, and the sense of ultimate triumph against overwhelming odds.

Gone, too, are the grand, albeit old-fashioned phrases like "the dawn's early light," "what so proudly we hail," "twilight's last gleaming," "broad stripes and bright stars," and "the perilous fight."  No doubt the cancel culture crowd considers such language bellicose.  I mean, was America really worth fighting for?

Call me a sentimental fool, but I would sorely miss the uplifting feeling I get whenever I hear the concluding words of our present anthem: "Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave / O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!"

"Lean on Me" is, by comparison, a dirge. Its lyrics include words like "sorrow" and "pain."  Its message is to "lean on me when you're not strong."  It alludes to "swallowing our pride" and "borrowing" from someone else.  It is a plaintive tune that reaches out to those who are down on their luck.  It urges the seeking of solace, not of greatness.  And it is a song that speaks to the woes of a person, not to the aspirations of a nation.

In some ways, it is the perfect anthem for the cultural revolutionists, who would quickly enough extrapolate from its lyrics the need for Americans to depend on Big Brother government, the same entity that has kept them so long depressed.  Yes, "Lean on Me," is the very ticket for those who hate the greatness of America, and who hope that by leaning on one another hard enough, we might, in the words of the "ring around the rosie" nursery rhyme, "All fall down."

Image: Jeff Turner via Flickr.

The cancel culture cultists are busier than ever in their undisguised attempt to reimagine a wholly different America, one rising like a socialistic phoenix from the ashes of the old.

When public outrage to their toppling statues of Confederate leaders proved insufficiently confrontational, they broadened their pursuit to include more memorable historic figures.  Destroying symbols of America's past was never their ultimate goal.  It was merely a prelude to further, more substantive mischief.

In this respect, progressive activists are like self-centered children who don't know when to put a lid on their hijinks.  Like many in that selfie-centered generation, their immediate need is to stage attention-getting antics that might lead them to an elusive fifteen minutes of fame.

The more publicity they get, the wider and more brazenly they cast the net.  Thus, "reimagining the police" veered almost immediately into "defunding" them.  "Reimagining," after all, is a word that takes...well, some imagination.  "Defunding," on the other hand, is a negative word, one that breaks things down, not lifts them up — one that diminishes rather than improves.  It's not surprising that the Biden campaign has now chosen as its slogan "Build Back Better," since it suggests that to do so must first involve a considerable degree of destruction.

Now comes yet another diatribe on the need to rip something from the womb of America's past.  Not content to "take a knee" when our national anthem is played in stadiums, a "serious" editorial by Jody Rosen that recently appeared in the Los Angeles Times goes beyond genuflection, aiming instead for the solar plexus of American tradition.

To be fair, it is not the first opinion piece urging that Americans scrap "The Star-Spangled Banner."  But former complaints didn't take issue with the language of the anthem so much as with its rather complicated musical composition.  The tune scuttles across octaves like mice along drainpipes.  In sum, it is hard to sing, which may be why at sports and other public event the task of warbling "The Star- Spangled Banner" has been delegated to a professional singer.  Or at least hopefully one!

Yet with the exception of some kneelers down on the edge of the field, audiences have no issue with standing and recognizing the melody that Francis Scott Key used for the historic words he wrote back in 1814 when Baltimore's Fort McHenry was bombarded by the British.  It's been our national anthem for almost ninety years, yet now its lyrics are suddenly just too "hard" — too archaic — for Americans to wrap their tongues around, much less their minds.

As a result, getting rid of our present anthem has become part of "the dumbing down of America" movement, which feeds into our lowered expectations.  The anthem's syntax, we're admonished, is "as British as beef Wellington" and hence "frustrates the efforts of normal human Americans to follow along or keep up with such unfamiliar words as 'gleaming' and 'streaming.'"  Using that argument, we should no longer teach Shakespeare in our schools or trouble anyone with the difficult language of geometry that involves words like "isosceles," "scalene," and "equilateral."  (I imagine that this has already happened in places.)

And what is the critic's suggestion for a replacement?  He makes several, such as "Lift Every Voice and Sing," something akin to a black national anthem, which has already been mandated at pro football games.  (Nothing like uniting Americans by having two separate anthems!)

But Rosen's definitive choice is a soul ballad written in 1972 called "Lean on Me," which has a very different vibe from that of "The Star-Spangled Banner."  Gone are the uplifting phrases, the optimism, and the sense of ultimate triumph against overwhelming odds.

Gone, too, are the grand, albeit old-fashioned phrases like "the dawn's early light," "what so proudly we hail," "twilight's last gleaming," "broad stripes and bright stars," and "the perilous fight."  No doubt the cancel culture crowd considers such language bellicose.  I mean, was America really worth fighting for?

Call me a sentimental fool, but I would sorely miss the uplifting feeling I get whenever I hear the concluding words of our present anthem: "Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave / O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!"

"Lean on Me" is, by comparison, a dirge. Its lyrics include words like "sorrow" and "pain."  Its message is to "lean on me when you're not strong."  It alludes to "swallowing our pride" and "borrowing" from someone else.  It is a plaintive tune that reaches out to those who are down on their luck.  It urges the seeking of solace, not of greatness.  And it is a song that speaks to the woes of a person, not to the aspirations of a nation.

In some ways, it is the perfect anthem for the cultural revolutionists, who would quickly enough extrapolate from its lyrics the need for Americans to depend on Big Brother government, the same entity that has kept them so long depressed.  Yes, "Lean on Me," is the very ticket for those who hate the greatness of America, and who hope that by leaning on one another hard enough, we might, in the words of the "ring around the rosie" nursery rhyme, "All fall down."

Image: Jeff Turner via Flickr.