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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

National Anthem or Mandatory Patriotism?

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Divisiveness, Racial Inequality, and Classism. That is the America we live in and that is the America we pledge our allegiance to each and every single time. Most of us just didn’t know it. It is quite clear that America stands for division of the races, inequality, and classism as much as it does for baseball, apple pie, and capitalism. If America really wanted to have an anthem that spoke to the beauty and patriotic spirit of the American people, they would have chosen “America the Beautiful” as its national anthem. Not only is it more powerful than “The Star-Spangled Banner” in terms of lyrics, but also has zero negative racial undertones embedded in any of its verses.
Why ratify a racially-insensitive and degrading song like “The Star-Spangled Banner” as your national anthem when an alternative song of equal, or in this case, greater lyrical power exists in “America the Beautiful?”
Many feel “The Star-Spangled Banner” is traditionally meant to honor the US military. This makes sense since Francis Scott Key composed his magnum opus in response to the US victory over the British at the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. Now, I am not against supporting the military; I have no problem praising those men and women, they deserve it. However, not every able-bodied American serves in our military, and those that currently do probably chose to do so of their own volition. Also, you have to keep in mind that some Americans are not allowed to serve due to a wide variety of reasons, including but not limited to physical or mental health issues.
It is wrong for any man or woman in the armed services to say “Well, you know, I fought for your right to do this and that, and now I have a prosthetic leg” to a regular civilian, especially a black civilian born within the African diaspora. Here is my response to self-entitled veterans trying to pray on civilian guilt: “Ok Johnny Jarhead and Suzie Soldier, you have a point. But how ’bout this? Every single non-black person in the United States benefited in every way imaginable from slavery, so from my ancestors to yours, you’re welcome!” If, however, a black soldier says that then I might be in trouble, but you get my point.
Furthermore, regular civilians did not ask other regular civilians to join a military branch, go through months of military training, and then deploy to some God-forsaken, third world country to impose the US government’s will on an entire foreign nation.
Military directives for recruitment comes from the top of the governmental pyramid, not the average people who simply help maintain the pyramid. We’re too busy trying to stay alive to tell anyone to do anything.
Many of the countries of the world have copied and mimicked the US political system. That includes national anthems; the US is one of the first countries to legally ratify a known song or poem as the official soundtrack of its land. For quite some time now, nearly every country has its own identifiable national anthem. There is a very fine line between patriotism and nationalism, and that is definitely apparent as throughout several times in human history, that line has either been temporarily blurred or completely erased. Nazi Germany is a perfect example of ultra-nationalism, or as I like to call it, nationalism on high-intensive crack.
Most US military men and women are patriotic, and nobody denies or questions that. I personally attempted to enlist in the US Army after high school in 2008 but was rejected due to my asthma. I dreamt of fighting overseas as the first black sniper in US history. I was 18 and full of fearlessness, an obsession with the Jason Bourne trilogy, and some form of patriotism as well. I believed in fighting evil in other parts of the world. I was not as focused on the evil going on right here at home, but now I am. The evil at home is so overt and ugly you would have to be as blind not to see it. The US military can, and should, have Mr. Keys’ poem as its personal ode to American soldiers. The rest of the country, on the other hand, should be singing to a different tune. Under no definition has America ever been an “all-military nation” or a stratocracy; it was built on the idea of being an “all-everything nation,” and the national anthem should reflect that—or at least pretend to try.
However, most of us know common sense does not always triumph in human society. Unless the US secretly plans on turning us into citizen-soldiers (mandatory military service or lose citizenship entirely) sometime in the near or distant future, there is no reason we cannot have a song that truly represents the beauty of America as well as that of all of its people. Abraham Lincoln, who was by no means the Jesus Christ of abolitionists as historians would like us to think, was still right when he said “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth” at the Gettysburg Address in 1863. America, much like a full rainbow, is only ever at its most beautiful and effective when all of its people are equally represented in everything we do as a nation.
So why have a national anthem mired in racism, nationalism, and other -isms with negative connotations, when other alternative songs free of any such implications exist? Are they trying to divide us?
Are we not the United States of America? If the answer is no, then somebody needs to change the title of his country, because that is borderline false advertisement. I don’t know if sitting on my butt and writing about this topic makes me a patriot; probably not, but I do know the hope that this country can do infinitely better is what drives me to write this article (I usually do movie reviews because those are fun!). Patriotism is a wonderful thing, at least up until human xenophobia confuses or corrupts it. After that it just becomes a big political mess that our leaders are either unwilling or too inept to clean up.