A Ramon, California, high school has banned the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at rallies over its allegedly racist and offensive third verse.
The national anthem will no longer be sung during California High School's rallies as a result of the school's Associated Student Body decision to have the song omitted from the school's rally tradition.
What are the details?
The school's student body president, Ariyana Kermanizadeh, wrote in the school's paper that the anthem's third verse is "outdated and racially insensitive."
"After learning about the third verse, the other ASB officers and I thought that this was completely unacceptable and must be removed from the rally," Kermanizadeh wrote.
The third verse of "The Star-Spangled Banner" reads:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the Star-Spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and home of the brave.
Does it matter that the third verse is rarely sung?
According to Kermanizadeh's article, no.
"We understand that this third verse is not included when the anthem is performed, but still, what does this tell us? This verse translated, finds joy in the killing of African-Americans," Kermanizadeh explained. "To think that our nation’s anthem once had the word slave and 'land of the free' in the same sentence leaves me speechless."
She adds, "As our culture shifts to one that is more diverse and accepting of all types of people, so must our traditions," and said that sacrificing the tradition of the national anthem only helps to fuel the movement of inclusivity.
According a second article in the school paper, assistant principal Kathleen Martins was "unaware this decision was made before the rally."
The article adds, "The national anthem will not be sung at rallies for the remainder of the year. A decision about rallies in future years will come at a later date."
What's been the response to this?
Student opinion on the decision to remove the national anthem from the school rallies has been mixed — some are supportive about the striking of the song, while others were against the idea entirely.
California High School senior Alexis Hooper told the student paper, "I don’t really care. The national anthem is a tradition from many years ago and the only people who really care about it are older generations."
Senior Amir Udler told the school paper that he could not support the decision to remove the anthem.
"It comes from a very disrespectful place," Udler said. "[Leadership] said it was in the name of 'exclusivity,' but in reality, [leadership] is disenfranchising the vast majority of the school who loves the country, and who thinks the anthem should be played."
Todd Starnes, a Fox News opinion columnist and radio host, suggested that his listeners contact the school board with their concerns.
"Where are the grownups in charge of this public school?" he incredulously asked.
California High School senior Dennis Fiorentinos spoke with Starnes on Tuesday, and said that there had been "a lot of pushback on the removal of the anthem," noting that the criticisms didn't come from only conservative students.