Francis Key Scott, the author of the poem used as the lyrics for the national anthem of the United States, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, would be appalled to hear how this patriotic song depicting the success of the United States during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812, was demoted recently in the Michigan State capitol before the Electoral College proceedings.
The anthem as identity politics
The Michigan State Senate found it fitting to play, both the country’s national anthem and the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice”. The notion of equating these two anthems, debases many principles, chiefly being the doctrine of equality.
A price so great as a brutal civil war to end slavery and uphold the natural rights of all citizens, the passing of the Reconstruction Amendments (13th, 14th, 15th) to the Constitution within the following five years (1865-1870) to solidify emancipation and the fundamental passage of seminal civil rights legislation to ameliorate imperfections a hundred years later (1964), all pointed to one thing: the continuing intent of building a color-blind, free society. What was witnessed on Monday, December 14th in Michigan, points exactly in the other direction. The promotion, in fact, of inequality and arguably black supremacy. There is, however, a far more venomous impact that this apparently harmless incident displays.
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The State of Michigan has not been alone in coalescing behind this trend. The National Football League (NFL), since the season opened, has made it a point to play the colloquially termed black national anthem at the start of its games. This has prompted many to suggest, and rightfully so, that this is counterproductive to the challenges of fighting racial prejudice. Texas Senator Ted Cruz called this decision by the NFL as “asinine”, adding that it is one which deepens racial divisions.
The idea of organizing society along the context of groups of collective entities bound together by classifications such as ideology, religion, sex, self-perceived gender affiliations, class, etc., and all espousing subjective remedying proposals seeking “justice” for their victimhood follies, poison the very idea of a social compact in a democracy. This activity formulates a consciousness that renders a parallel reality where a person is not who one is as an individual, part of a family and a community which is a part of a society that exists within a nation. No, individual merits and sins are whitewashed and instead the person is embodied as part of an organic whole.
A communitarian approach to plural societies is harmless, as it is limited to the private sphere such as trade associations, church groups, social clubs, or non-governmental organizations. The big difference between identity politics and a communitarian focus is that the former is ideologically driven and the other simply explains human manifestations within the existing order. Identity politics is inherently radical and apocalyptical. It’s raison d’être innately seeks to comprehensively deconstruct the prevailing system. It is a manifestation of a subversive and revolutionary worldview.
Epistemologically, identity politics rests on Marxism, specifically, Critical Theory. One can say identity politics is its direct effect, one which seeks to lose academic mumbo jumbo, but not its ideological substance. Marxism’s underlying premise of constant social conflict, in this case, explained in the cultural sphere, places the task of playing a black national anthem, not as an African American pride celebration, but rather as an inward move against “white privilege” in its war for political power. Totally consistent with Critical Theory, in this case, Critical Race Theory, it is a call to arms against the perceived oppressors.
If the task is to lessen racial prejudices and alleviate disheartening statistics of poverty, income, fatherless families and crime within black American communities, the focus needs to change. Statist policies have impoverished blacks and the advancement of Critical Race Theory’s Marxist agenda will only exacerbate social divisions and foster inequality and bigotry. A nation has only one national anthem. In America’s case, it is the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and it belongs to all.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.