I posted a shorter version of this, commenting on a friend’s post about replacing the Star Spangled Banner because Francis Scott Key was a slave owner.
I can separate an artists' background from their creations. It’s why I can still read Harry Potter without thinking of transrights or watch The Usual Suspects without thinking of Kevin Spacey’s crimes. In my heart I know that every beautiful thing, every funny thing, everything that makes us feel something has been created by an imperfect person who has done something in their life that would disgust me.
All that said the problem with the Star Spangled Banner isn’t Francis Scott Key. The song itself celebrates slavery. It starts off fine enough…”we made it through the battle! the flag is still there, ain’t we great!!!” Then in the third stanza it takes a rather dark turn:
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.
You might say to me “I didn’t know there was a third stanza, we don’t sing that part”. Yeah I know, but it’s part of the song and a little too close. I mean it is an accurate representation of the pre-civil war south, but doesn't represent what I want 2020 America to be. And with both "America, the Beautiful" and "God Bless America" just sitting there, waiting to be used.
The article my friend posted suggested John Lennon’s Imagine. I can’t sign off on that. Honestly, right now, I think the world would be better if most people imagined there was a hell below us.
Plus as far as the SSB is concerned, let’s be honest no one can hit that High F at the end.