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SIMMONS: Idea to replace national anthem just plain wrong

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

At a charity game this week, Washington Wizards players Garrett Temple and Martell Webster decided on a whim to sing "The Star Spangled Banner," and like a lot of other celebrity and noncelebrity performers, their rendition is memorable as they sang the high notes off key.

But, oh, say, can you see changing America's national anthem to a song written and produced by R. Kelly?

There are a million-plus-1 reasons why President Obama shouldn't change the national anthem — and surely not bow to a replacing it with the Kelly song "Ignition (remix)," which wreaks of fellas and honeys bouncin,' bumpin' and grindin.'

Why are we even discussing this?

Some people who have too much time on their hands have created an online petition, courtesy of the White House's We the People website, to press the issue with the Obama administration.

In the online petition, which mocks several of Mr. Kelly's "Ignition" phrases, petitioners say it's time for America to get a new groove on.

The petition reads: "We, the undersigned, would like the Obama administration to recognize the need for a new national anthem, one that even a decade after its creation, is still hot and fresh out the kitchen. America has changed since Francis Scott Key penned our current anthem in 1814. Since then, we have realized that after the show, it's the after-party, and that after the party, it's the hotel lobby, and — perhaps most importantly — that 'round about four, you've got to clear the lobby, at which point it's strongly recommended that you take it to the room and freak somebody. President Obama: we ask you to recognize the evolution of this beautiful country and give us an anthem that better suits the glorious nation we have become."

Indeed, "Ignition" is a good hip-swaying tune for getting a groove on when doing house chores.

While it's highly unlikely the activists seeking a change will have their way, thousands are signing onto the petition urging Mr. Obama to undo what Congress and President Hoover set forth on March 3, 1931.

Casting aside, momentarily, the meaningful and explosive depictions by Francis Scott Key of a victorious and defining moment in time, we channel David Letterman on the Top 10 reasons why we shouldn't swap "The Star Spangled Banner" for "Ignition."

No. 10: Beyonce can't sing about "bumpin' " with another woman even when she's lip-syncing.

No. 9: Jay-Z could pull it off, but all his "bouncin' " is with Beyonce these days.

No. 8: The Obamas can't explain to Sasha and Malia how birds and bees bounce and grind.

No. 7: Libertarians will balk at government intrusion.

No. 6: The American Civil Liberties Union will seek equal treatment for a non-R&B song by Pitbull.

No. 5: Jerry Seinfeld will push a government-funded Hebrew translation to the lyrics of "Ignition."

No. 4: Activists will petition the White House and Congress to change the Fourth of July to Juneteenth.

No. 3: Geico's gecko sings "Ignition" at the Super Bowl.

No. 2: Black singer/writer/producer George "Paint the White House Black" Clinton sues the White House and

Mr. Kelly claiming violation of due process.

No. 1: U.S. Olympians who win gold aren't allowed to bounce, bump or grind during medal ceremonies.
Silly, isn't it?

And that's precisely the point.

"Ignition," penned in 2003, is just a song to which most people do not know the words, and, oh, so many more have never heard of — a far cry from Mr. Kelly's rendition of the inspirational "I Believe I Can Fly."

Indeed, more people remember the vile charges against R. Kelly (raps he later beat) than the titles of his songs.

Americans recognize "The Star Spangled Banner" as our song, whether we know all the words or can hit the high notes or not.

It isn't groovy, but it's our anthem and we should stick with it.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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