Stick it to the man… and win a free year of DigBoston’s new members-only print edition
Just before July 4 was upon us, President Trump held a little Nuremberg rally at Mount Rushmore that probably infected the entire population of South Dakota with coronavirus. Trying to whip up the culture war between a group he called “these people” (African American anti-racist protestors and their many allies) and another group he called “the American people” (racist whites) while inveighing against “far left fascism”—whatever the hell that is.
He did it because, although the political reforms demanded by the broad and deep Black Lives Matter movement will take a long time to win, cultural reforms are being won in the streets every night of late. With one monument to racist terrorists after another being toppled in a process that is sometimes messy, but generally just. Given the purpose for which the offending statutes and other memorials were erected was to tell African Americans post-Civil War that they had not really won their freedom and should watch their step or be lynched. That is, tortured and killed—legally by police and extralegally by white supremacists in whiter hoods. For a hundred years after 1865… and beyond to the present day. The hoods now exchanged for street clothes (Ahmaud Arbery, say his name!).
As such, I think it’s a fine time to add to the cultural ferment that exercises Trump and other reactionaries so. By joining with the growing number of people demanding that the US finally change the national anthem from the current psychotic, flag-worshipping, racist (check out the rarely sung third stanza) war song—penned, as it was, by a slave owner whose own statue was recently toppled in San Francisco—to a song more representative of this nation’s many positive points. Should it also recognize the many wrongs that have been visited on many many people for the entirety of American history, so much the better.
If we wanted to just switch over to a newer ditty of similar tenor to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” we could go with “Blood for the Blood God” by Debauchery.
But none of the current anthem’s fans would even notice the change. And that’s no fun.
What will be fun is to hold a contest to see what the DigBoston audience can come up with as a replacement for the national anthem. The tune most likely to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted—in precisely the manner we try to do with our journalism.
My short list would include: serious choices that are already strong contenders (like “Lift Every Voice and Sing” [aka “the Black national anthem”] by James Weldon Johnson and “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie [the original, more radical version]), happy choices (like “Up, Up and Away” by Jimmy Webb, as styled by the 5th Dimension), cool choices (like “Rock And Roll” by the Velvet Underground), and fun choices (like “Hey Ya!” by Outkast and “Underground Anthem” by Flosstradamus). And I would have trouble cutting that list down any further.
However, I’m asking readers to undertake the challenging task of choosing the one song they think best encapsulates the good and bad of these United States.
Think about which track you’d most like to hear played before a baseball game—immediately prior to the howls of rage that would erupt from hard-right racist fans denied their fix of self-righteous blood lust.
Then take the time to click tiny.cc/DigBostonAnthemContest and give my colleagues and I your top choice for a new national anthem plus a quick explanation of why you think it gets the job done. Every entrant will then get a chance to win a year’s subscription to the new biweekly DigBoston members-only print edition that we’re launching in August. A special paper Dig, suitable for framing (or lining litter boxes, as is your wont), delivered to your door every two weeks. Pretty sweet for a few minutes’ work.
We’ll also run the winning choice and several runners-up in an upcoming issue.
That’s the deal. Get cracking. We’ll take submissions until July 20 and announce the winner by the end of the month.
Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.