Should 'God Bless America' be our new national anthem?
via AP

Should 'God Bless America' be our new national anthem?

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"The Star-Spangled Banner" is a terrible anthem. It glorifies war and white supremacy—with the NAACP calling for it to be removed completely—and its huge range makes it nearly impossible to sing. But "God Bless America" is a favorite of many. Written by an immigrant, Irving Berlin, "God Bless America" truly captures the American spirit... but also entangles country and religion. Do you think "God Bless America" should be our new national anthem? 🇺🇸 

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"God Bless America" has long been a favorite among conservatives, even though President Trump may have fumbled the words...

🎶 God bless America / Land that I love / Stand beside her / And guide her / Through the night with the light from above 🎶

Written by Russian immigrant and famous composer Irving Berlin in 1918, the song takes the form of a prayer and has become the unofficial anthem of the conservative movement in America. 

“The song became a staple at pro-war rallies, and was often used as a sonic weapon in conflicts with anti-war protesters …,” she writes. “If conservatives can be understood as revolutionaries reacting against the progressive social change movements of the 1960s, then ‘God Bless America’ was their ‘We Shall Overcome,’ used by activists expressing opposition to progressive social movements like school integration, women’s rights, and abortion.”
Richard Nixon, the president who represented those conservatives rejecting the ’60s social movements, frequently referenced the song and even sang it at a state dinner alongside Berlin himself, who lived to the age of 101 and died in 1989. Ronald Reagan, the first president embraced by the new Religious Right, did not just play the religious-patriotic song at his rallies. In his prior career as an actor, he actually starred in the 1943 movie “This Is the Army,” which was the first film to feature the song.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is a just terrible anthem. Aside from its crazy racist third verse, its enormous range makes it almost impossible to sing aloud with any consistency. Dick Cavett called it "the most dismal, virtually unsingable dirge of a national anthem of any known nation." Many argue the lyrics glorify violence—especially in an age of global terror, do we really want to be singing the praises of "bombs bursting in air" and "the rockets' red glare"? 

But many argue while "The Star-Spangled Banner" may be problematic, "God Bless America" isn't any better. The religious overtones exclude nonreligious Americans. Naila Sheikh argues in Huffington Post that "God Bless America" excludes America Muslims too.

Do the words “God Bless America” mean to be inclusive of Muslims? Can I, as an American Muslim, feel proud and included when POTUS refers to America as our incredible country? 

There has been a push in Major League Baseball to stop singing "God Bless America." It's too divisive and exclusionary to function as an anthem of any kind. Gersh Kuntzman argues:

It's time for God to stop blessing America during the seventh-inning stretch... The song still embodies great things about America, but also our worst things: self-righteousness, forced piety, earnest self-reverence, foam.
"God Bless America" is as divisive as American politics: Kaskowitz's research found that 83.8% of people who described themselves as "very liberal" dislike the song, while only 20.5% of people who called themselves "very conservative" have a problem with it. 

Plus, "The Star-Spangled Banner" isn't that bad. Sure it's hard to sing, but that's the point. Only the best of the best can pull it off. Have we forgotten about Whitney Houston's epic rendition of the anthem in 1991?

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