By David Hopkins

Leave It To The NFL To Practice The Politics Of Division

Just when you thought it was safe to slip back into the tranquility of sports fandom, here comes the NFL with yet another screwy way to mess with the country and divide Americans of all colors. After a long torturous 2020 season which saw rampant social justice displays by players, noxious kneelers aplenty, and a couple of half-intoxicated broadcasters who disparaged our military for routine stadium flyovers, you might think the NFL had run out of ways to alienate fans and would be more enlightened stewards of the entertainment industry.

But NO. Not this NFL. Not in the world of Roger the Dodger Goodall, the Commish with the Wish for the most Woke Utopia on the planet. Why on Earth would we expect anything less in 2021?

What have they done now? you ask. What is Goodall and his underlings up to this time?

Beginning with last Thursday’s game between the Bucs and Cowboys, the NFL has announced that there will be TWO national anthems played before the start of every game, one the old familiar “Star Spangled Banner” and the other “Lift Every Voice And Sing”, referred to as “the black national anthem”.


Yes, you heard right. The USA, now has a “Black National Anthem” and thanks to the priggish powers of Commissioner Goodall, it has been decreed it shall be played before all NFL games.

You gotta give them credit—- there’s nothing like the NFL to drive a wedge between its fans.

At first brush, one can’t help but wonder why the NFL would resort to something so….controversial… bloated with unpopularity, and not just among White fans. A whole lot of people are scratching their heads over this one. My own scalp is pretty raw at the moment. Commissioner Goodall explains it by saying, “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter….Without black players there would be no National Football League.” That’s only partially true. Without black players there would still be an NFL, it just wouldn’t be as good. In reality, though, the move is more of an effort to expand its political goals under the banner of “social justice”. It’s really just another form of kneeling, just with music. While workforce equality is always a good thing, I have a difficult time understanding the adoption of two National Anthems, one for White America (supposedly) and one for Black America, as a unifying force consistent with the principles of “one nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The long and short of it is that there is nothing remotely unifying about two national anthems played at sporting venues. It is a clear message to the world that we as a nation are divided, not unified. The NFL can’t seem to understand that concept so they march stubbornly onward to their own strange and discordant drumbeat.

Evidently, proponents of a black national anthem, including the NFL, believe this is important as a reminder of the past unfortunate struggles faced by Black Americans in a country which often denied them basic human rights. “Lift Up Every Voice And Sing” was a poem written in 1899 by James Weldon Johnson, a school principal and Republican civil rights activist in Florida. It was set to music in 1905 by his brother, John R. Johnson. Without question, it is a beautiful inspiring song that recounts the suffering of slavery and urges the listener to persevere and hope for a better future. It is also a protest song quite popular among black protest movements on college campuses. I heard it myself many times during my college days in the 70s and thought it was quite moving and relevant to evolving standards of equality in America.

But the song has all the trappings of a political statement and that is the most disturbing aspect of it as an alternative “national anthem” to be played on par with the “Star Spangled Banner” and to be showcased at NFL games or any other sporting event. The “Star Spangled Banner” is not a political or social justice statement. It is a poem recounting a time in history when the issue of the existence of this country as a whole was in grave jeopardy. It could well be true that if at “the dawn’s early light” our flag would NOT have been there, we would now be playing “God Save The Queen” at all our sporting events. Francis Scott Key penned “The Star Spangled Banner” for the benefit and inspiration of ALL citizenry of the burgeoning and imperiled United States, black and white, which unlike the song “Lift Every Voice And Sing” evokes a message of separatism.

Timothy Askew, a black professor at a historically black school, Clark Atlanta University, believes that “Lift Every Voice And Sing” should not be labeled as a black national anthem but better described as a “hymn”. Dr. Askew believes that by referring to the song as a black national anthem it suggests that Blacks are separatists and want to have their own nation, meaning that everything Martin Luther King, Jr. believed and spoke of gets tossed out the window.

The National Football League, however, doesn’t seem to get this. Roger Goodall fails to grasp how two national anthems played within the context of a single sporting event attended by a melange of ethnicities presents a convoluted and certainly divisive message to the public. Based on some of his past antics, one has to wonder if Goodall is doing this deliberately, maybe trying to stir up more discord among those of us who love football and just want to be fans rather than have racial controversies rammed down our throats.

American Blacks aren’t a Nation to themselves. They are one of many demographic groups within our nation. If Blacks are to have their own national anthem, why shouldn’t other ethnic groups have a national anthem, too? After all, suffering and oppression isn’t exclusive to American Blacks. Let’s think about getting the Irish, America’s first slaves shipped in chains to the colonies in 1619, a National Anthem. The Irish are rowdy hardcore sports fans, love football (not futball), and what a festive Anthem THAT would be. From most historical accounts, Irish slaves in America were treated every bit as brutal or worse than African slaves. How about a Japanese national anthem? Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese Americans were detained and relocated to interment camps( and some say military brothels) where they remained until 1944 and in some cases longer. Why wouldn’t the Jews be deserving of their own anthem? I mean, the degradation and antisemitism American Jews have endured in the United States and around the world is legendary. And then, there’s the Native American. If there has ever been a group of people who deserve a National Anthem in consideration for maltreatment in this country it is the Native American. In this Woke American Culture, stringent efforts have been undertaken to erode the memory of the Native American by redacting the various identifying names and images. Heck, Goodall even stripped the Washington DC franchise from the longstanding name of its former NFL team, the Redskins. The Cancel Culture is now working on other college and professional sports franchises, too, targeting Native American team identities. Soon all references to Native American-oriented teams will be gone. I would say our Native Americans could definitely use an anthem.

Here’s an idea: Let’s give every historically downtrodden ethnic group in the USA their own national anthem and play them all before every sporting event, pro or college. Make it a pre-game concert. If the game is scheduled for 8:00 pm the “National Anthem Concert” could start at around 4:00 and maybe be finished by game time. Maybe. Who knows? Once the Irish or Greeks get cranked up it could go on for hours. But the entertainment value would be priceless.

A national anthem shouldn’t divide us. It should be all inclusive, a song for us all. There should be ONE Anthem, one mellifluous voice for us all. In its frenzied efforts to foster its own brand of Wokeness and social correctness on Americans by plying us with dual national anthems, Roger Goodall has once again fumbled the ball, and on this occasion, I’m throwing the Flag.

Published by

David Hopkins

Retired journalist and health club Administrator. Sports and Entertainment blogger with an eye on American politics.

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