By John A. Tures
There’s a real excitement about the NFL, as fans showed up and tuned in to games, with any talk of a boycott a distant memory. But that doesn’t mean America’s highest rated sport isn’t being attacked for something new. This time, the league is being targeted for playing the so-called “Black National Anthem.” Are the criticisms really warranted?
Several years ago, there was an attempt to boycott the NFL because Colin Kaepernick and a few players were kneeling during the National Anthem. My research of fan attendance, of TV ratings, based on actual evidence, showed that the boycott failed. Even Donald Trump ran ads during NFL games while calling for the boycott, which told you all you needed to know about that subject. “That’s because his people are watching the games” a defender emailed me. Someone sent me a photo of a nearly empty stadium as “proof,” but forgot to remove the time stamp, which showed the game was 3 hours away. I sent back a pick from the game, with a packed stadium, in reply.
But now, there’s a new attack on the NFL. Whether you are a political pundit, or the host of HBO’s “Real Time” Weekly talk show, you’re quick to complain about the league playing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” in addition to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” at NFL games.
According to the Washington Times, host Bill Maher said “’Now, maybe we should get rid of our national anthem, but I think we should have one national anthem,” he told his viewers. ‘I think when you go down a road where you’re having two different national anthems, colleges sometimes now have … many of them have different graduation ceremonies for black and white, separate dorms — this is what I mean,’ Mr. Maher said. ‘Segregation. You’ve inverted the idea. We’re going back to that under a different name,” he said of the NFL’s pushing the ‘Black national anthem’ in marquee games, also including the Super Bowl.”
Instead of going along with the crowd and condemning the NFL, I adopted the novel approach of looking up just what “The Black National Anthem” was, and what it said.
First of all, the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was written by James Weldon Johnson, 33 years before the NFL played its first championship game (The NAACP called the song “The Black National Anthem”). Johnson served in President Teddy Roosevelt’s Administration as U.S. Consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua. That’s right: he worked for a Republican President!
It does not mention Blacks, or any other particular group, so it’s not segregationist. It mentions liberty. It mentions God FOUR times! If you didn’t tell me it what it was, I would think a modern-day Country & Western singer wrote it and performed it. You’ve really got to really be mad to reject this song being played at NFL games.
If you don’t believe me, why don’t you read the lyrics first, before you respond to my column? Here they are: https://www.elyrics.net/read/j/james-weldon-johnson-lyrics/the-black-national-anthem-lyrics.html Point out the bad, divisive, segregationist words or lyrics, if you can. Perhaps that’s why critics of “Life Every Voice and Sing” don’t list the words they hate. Show me where any words in it are divisive.
You know, Major League Baseball has been playing “God Bless America” at games, pretty much since 9/11. It mentions God. It’s not our National Anthem. Nobody seems to have a problem with that, right? I sure don’t. And I think it’s cool when they play Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA.” I don’t hear conservatives complain about that song, because it isn’t the National Anthem. Let’s play songs by Republicans citing God at games. Don’t cancel them!
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