Jemele Hill: The Mavericks Were Right, the Anthem No Longer Belongs in American Sports

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Atlantic writer Jemele Hill is sticking up for Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban for canceling the playing of the national anthem and saying that we should no longer play the song at sporting events.

The former ESPN host blasted the national anthem in her first sentence in her Feb. 14 article, entitled, The Problem With Mandatory Patriotism in Sports.

“Playing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events has become an empty gesture of patriotism,” Hill wrote with her first few words.

The left-wing activist praised Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban for his reported attempt to put a halt to the playing of the anthem. A source close to Cuban said that the decision to stop playing the anthem was made because not everyone feels “represented” by the national anthem.

While the NBA quickly disabused Cuban of his notion of ending the song, Jemele Hill still thinks the idea of canceling the national anthem is the right move for professional sports.

As far as Hill is concerned, “the Mavericks should have held their ground” and continued to impose their ban on the anthem.

Why? Hill feels that blacks no longer feel patriotic about America. Hill thinks we are living in “a time when many people—including many athletes of color—are deeply uncomfortable with how patriotic symbols have been weaponized to undermine and diminish the humanity of Black and brown Americans.”

Hill says that the league should have used Cuban’s announcement of canceling the anthem as an excuse to revisit its anthem rules. Indeed, Hill thinks that every sports league should look to put an end to the song.

The leftist writer went on to push the canard that one of the original verses of the song praises slavery, saying, “which includes the lyric ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave’—has been interpreted as mocking or threatening the Black people who escaped their enslavers and fought for the British.”

This is a false characterization of the verse. According to many historians, the third verse of the original song was speaking to the impressment of Americans into the British navy. It did not pertain to chattel slavery.

But that false claim is not the only problem Hill sees with the song. In the era of Colin Kaepernick using the playing of the anthem to protest against the country, Hill thinks that the anthem has been abused by Trump supporters who say “real patriots stand for the anthem” and those who don’t are “traitors.”

The song is also too much associated with “white supremacists,” Hill exclaims.

In the years since, Americans have seen far too many images of white supremacists waving the national flag and shouting patriotic slogans. The insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol did just that, even as they tried to overturn a free election. Trump and many other Republicans who impugned Kaepernick’s patriotism now want the rest of the country to ignore the Capitol riot and move on. If it wasn’t clear before why people of color feel uncomfortable with the conservative definition of patriotism, it should be now.

In light of all that, Hill says, “the NBA’s decision to strong-arm teams into playing the national anthem just doesn’t seem right.”

Hill concludes that “mandatory patriotism” should be ended.

“When the Mavericks stopped playing the national anthem, [NBA commissioner Adam] Silver should have been similarly accommodating—and taken advantage of the opportunity to lift the league’s anthem rule. Whatever the NBA decided was going to outrage someone. But mandatory patriotism doesn’t give Americans reason for pride; it only highlights the country’s failures,” Hill exclaimed.

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