Student leaders at a high school in the San Francisco Bay Area have decided that the national anthem is racist and outdated and have banned it from school rallies.
According to multiple area news outlets, the Associated Student Body at California High School in San Ramon made that decision based on a phrase in the rarely-played third verse.
“It was brought to our attention that the national anthem’s third verse is outdated and racially offensive,” Ariyana Kermanizadeh wrote in an open letter. “We had nothing but good intentions by removing the song so that we could be fully inclusive to our student body.”
She said the decision was made when students learned about the third verse, which includes the line “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,” during planning for the winter rally. It applies for the rest of the school year.
Ms. Kermanizadeh said the fact that the third verse is practically never played, and very few Americans even know the lyrics doesn’t matter — the entire song is tainted.
“We understand that this third verse is not included when the anthem is performed, but still, what does this tell us?” she said.
She noted that “this song was written in 1814. That was written 204 years ago. Imagine all the traditions and laws that have changed … [and] so must our traditions.”
Reaction ranged from bemusement among other students to disbelief among outsiders.
“It comes from a very disrespectful place,” Amir Udler, a senior at the school, told the Californian, the student newspaper that first broke the story last week. The decision “is disenfranchising the vast majority of the school who loves the country.”
Fox News opinion columnist Todd Starnes asked rhetorically, “Where are the grownups in charge of this public school?” and admonished his listeners to contact the school board.
“The Star Spangled Banner may have survived the bombs bursting in air, but it may not be able to withstand the rampaging mob of politically correct inclusivists,” he wrote.
Senior Dennis Fiorentinos was interviewed on Mr. Starnes radio show Tuesday and said there had been “a lot of pushback on the removal of the anthem – and not just from conservatives.”