Prof: 'God Bless America' is a 'warmongering' song
- An Ithaca College professor argues that "expressions of hyper-patriotism" such as the national anthem and "God Bless America" are not appropriate at sporting events.
- Calling "God Bless America" a "warmongering song," Stephen Mosher says such expressions have “changed our ‘philosophy’ about what it means to be an ‘American.’”
A professor from Ithaca College in New York argues that the song “God Bless America” should not be played at sporting events because it is a “warmongering song.”
Professor Stephen Mosher, who teaches in the Department of Communications Studies, wrote an op-ed for The Ithacan titled “Sporting events don’t need national anthem,” in which he complains that after the events of September 11, 2001, “expressions of hyper-patriotism took hold,” including the “warmongering song ‘God Bless America’” becoming our second, unofficial anthem.
Recalling his time as an undergraduate at The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Mosher notes that “so-called race riots, political assassinations, Olympic protests, and the disastrous Vietnam experience had altered my philosophy about the role sport plays in our society.”
By 1970, for instance, he remarks that some of the basketball players at UMass-Amherst would turn their backs to the flag when the anthem was being played, which caused some violent fans to be taken out of the game for throwing objects at the players, though he says that, “strangely, the university never considered NOT playing the national anthem.”
Mosher then lists the requirements of the U.S. Flag Code, pointing out that it is a violation to use the American flag on apparel such as MAGA hats and athletic uniforms.
Shifting gears, Mosher turns to the “pregame patriotic rituals” that he claims arose during the Gulf War, a practice that was significantly expanded following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, saying that “In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the expressions of hyper-patriotism took hold,” and “Irving Berlin’s warmongering song ‘God Bless America’ became our second, unofficial national anthem at the ballpark.”
Mosher believes that such demonstrations have “changed our ‘philosophy’ about what it means to be an ‘American,’” and in fact “serve to minimize what real patriotism looks like,” pointing out that even the Department of Defense has “stated explicitly that there is no requirement to stand or to place one’s hand over one’s heart” during the national anthem.
“Of course, the most effective way to expose the jingoists spreading lies is to call their bluff that sports and politics shouldn’t mix,” he concludes. “To that end, why not simply abandon the practice? We don’t play the anthem before most church services or movies or concerts. The jingoists would have to find something else to be upset about, and those athletes who are concerned about issues of social justice could find alternative ways to bring those concerns to light.”
Mosher elaborated on his description of “God Bless America” as a “warmongering” song in an interview with Campus Reform, contrasting “the well-known Irving Berlin's God Bless America vs. Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land in the run up to WWII.”
“Playing the National Anthem before a sporting event is a political statement,” he added. “If we insist that sport and politics shouldn't mix, then stop playing the anthem.”
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