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If 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is canceled as national anthem, activist suggests singing John Lennon's 'Imagine' instead

'The most beautiful, unifying, all-people, all-backgrounds-together kind of song you could have'

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Amid the astonishing groundswell of cancel culture doing away with statues, movies, TV shows, syrup — and just about anything else that radical leftists can connect to racism or bigotry or general un-woke-ness, past or present — the national anthem of the United States is beginning to feel the heat as well.

What are the details?

The editor-in-chief of Yahoo Music put together an article asking if it's time to replace "The Star-Spangled Banner" with a different anthem — due primarily to racism accusations against the man who wrote its words, Francis Scott Key.

Indeed, protesters last weekend pulled down Key's statue in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for that reason — along with one of former Union General and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant:

Francis Scott Key statue toppled in San Francisco youtu.be

In addition, the Tulsa Athletic — a National Premier Soccer League squad in Oklahoma — on Wednesday said it no longer would play "The Star-Spangled Banner" at home matches and will now play "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie instead, which the team called "a new song of patriotism."

The Yahoo Music piece cites a quote attributed to Key — taken from the book "Snow-Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835" by Jefferson Morley — calling Africans in America "a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community."

Black activist and journalist Kevin Powell was interviewed for the article and spoke at length about Key, saying "he was a very well-to-do lawyer in Washington, D.C., and eventually became very close to President Andrew Jackson, who was the Donald Trump of his time, which means that there was a lot of hate and violence and division. At that time, there were attacks on Native Americans and Black folks — both free Black folks and folks who were slaves — and Francis Scott Key was very much a part of that. He was also the brother-in-law of someone who became a Supreme Court justice, Roger Taney, who also had a very hardcore policy around slavery. And so, all of that is problematic. And the fact that Key, when he was a lawyer, also prosecuted abolitionists, both white and Black folks who wanted slavery to end, says that this is someone who really did not believe in freedom for all people. And yet, we celebrate him with this national anthem, every time we sing it."

More from Yahoo Music:

In fact "The Star-Spangled Banner," based on a poem Key wrote about his eyewitness account of the War of 1812, originally featured a little-heard third stanza that was blatantly racist: "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 the home of the brave." While that version of the song is rarely performed today, Powell has been aware of it for years, and ... has therefore refused to sing the anthem since he was in high school in the 1980s, when he first learned of its history.

And what about black artists who've performed iconic versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" over the years?

"The issue is not Black people's patriotism. I mean, there's very few folk that are as patriotic as African Americans," Powell told Yahoo Music. "The way I look at it is, I think what Jimi Hendrix did with 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at Woodstock, or the way that Marvin Gaye reinterpreted it and made it a soul song, or Whitney Houston singing it at the Super Bowl in 1991, it became something that belonged to all people, not just folks that thought we should just blindly sing this song. And that's what we do: take these opportunities to perform it because it's a way to showcase one of the greatest gifts to the world, which is music."

What song could replace it?

And if "The Star-Spangled Banner" is ever canceled like so many other iconic parts of American history have been in the last few weeks, Powell told the outlet that John Lennon's "Imagine" would be an ideal national anthem. In fact, Powell noted to Yahoo Music that the tune penned by the famed member of the Beatles is "the most beautiful, unifying, all-people, all-backgrounds-together kind of song you could have."

Of course, "Imagine" is openly atheist and humanistic, as its opening lines say, "Imagine there's no heaven / It's easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people living for today" and then later "Imagine ... no religion too."

Imagine - John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (w the Flux Fiddlers) (official music video HD long v) youtu.be

Or maybe not?

Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, put together an entertaining video response to celebrities who took turns singing lines from "Imagine" at the start of widespread coronavirus shutdowns and social distancing back in March. Shapiro referred to "Imagine" as the "worst song ever written" and "evil" with a "horrible, immoral communist message."

Ben Shapiro Criticizes Celebrities For Singing "Imagine" During Pandemic youtu.be

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