Star Spangled Banner ban: Even the wordless music is “too violent”

posted at 5:35 pm on August 26, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Indiana’s Goshen College banned the lyrics to the Star Spangled banner ages ago, but, now, the school has banned the national anthem’s musical accompaniment, too:

Tiny Goshen College in Indiana has banned the “The Star Spangled Banner” at all sporting events because the Mennonite school’s president considers the National Anthem’s words to be too violent.

The 1,000-student school had already banned the words last year, but the band could still play the music for patriots in attendance. Now, the school has banned the song entirely, according to NBC Sports. …

Art professor John Blosser told The Goshen News that there is much national pride at the school, but that most people aren’t going to blindly accept what the country does.

NBC Sports’ Rick Chandler weighed in, saying: “I suppose we could have followed the example of the Mennonites and simply fled, giving the nation back to the British. But then we’d all be playing cricket.”

Not since the 1913 riotous debut of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” has sheer music been so “violent” — and, somehow, I don’t quite think an adapted 18th-century British tune rivals Stravinsky in its power to incite.

I have no idea why this pesters me enough to write about it. When I first heard of the school’s ban on the lyrics, I defended Goshen. And a defense can be made: The private school has every right to ban the anthem and to uphold its pacifist religious principles. Plus, it really is teensy-tiny. Just 1,000 students. If those few students really want to attend a school that plays the national anthem, they can choose to go elsewhere. But it just seems so, well, petty to ban it at a time when even the last vestiges of patriotic unity have begun to fade from the political scene.

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I can’t help but remember the overwhelming, enveloping sense of patriotism that followed the tragic attacks. The Heritage Foundation has challenged patriotic Americans across the country to commit to flying their flags on Sept. 11 (tweet a picture of your flag flying @Heritage with the hashtag #Flag911 to show your support!). In light of little Goshen’s skittishness, I’m hoping folks will play the Star Spangled Banner loudly that day, too — in opposition to senseless violence and in support of the defense of American ideals.

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The Mennonites have a College? Why yes, and not merely Goshen. There is also Bethel, Hesston, and Tabor in Kansas, Bluffton in Ohio, Eastern Mennonite in Virginia, and Fresno Pacific in California. Will this nonsense spread? Quite likely! However a saving grace may be the large Amish (Old Mennonite) group within the recently united Mennonite Church USA. For over 100 years, the Amish carried on a bitter struggle with a number of States to eliminate the normal requirement that all children attend school until age 16. They wanted only a grade school education for their children, least the children become “worldly”. Perhaps the Amish group will prevail within the newly united church and support will be withdrawn from the Mennonite colleges.

John Adams on August 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM

As this policy is intended to be in keeping with the school’s pacifist worldview, it isn’t a wholly unreasonable position, if indeed they believe that the music represents behavior they do not condone. If they are convinced that doing otherwise would be hypocrisy, and they are surely not planning to demand the approval nor acceptance of others, then they are free to choose as they wish.

They most certainly do not receive, nor want government assistance of any kind, and the only way for any private school to avoid government intrusion is to refuse government funding.

That said, there does remain the small inconsistency of which they must surely be aware, that their ability to decide such policies comes via the blood of patriots, who fought and fight to keep those freedoms away from the hands of tyrants.

I bear them no ill will, but they exist under the shelter of better men.

Freelancer on August 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM

While I don’t agree with their position, I am no pacifist myself, I will say this, they are consistent with their faith and pursuit of pacifism. Yes here they can pursue such ideals in relative safety, but the also pursue such ideals in more hostile environments, and it has cost many of them their lives in other less free nations. Now, sure if they took up arms everywhere but where it’s safe not to do so, then yeah they are only willing to be so idealistic on the backs of others. But that is not the case. They have been persecuted and even killed for these values. Should they abandon them simply because they are in a nation where it’s not deadly to do so? That would be foolish as well.

flyfishingdad on August 27, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Our Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at our neighborhood elementary school has more members than this college. Not sure why a group this insignificant makes it to Hot Air as being newsworthy.

volsense on August 28, 2011 at 2:15 PM

I bear them no ill will, but they exist under the shelter of better men.

Freelancer on August 27, 2011 at 7:01 PM

Well said. I admit that I have done work for them in the past, but hereafter I’m afraid I will be “too busy” to accommodate them again.
I do not wish to hold them down, but I am not required to hold them aloft.

Extrafishy on August 29, 2011 at 6:25 AM

Way too much attention has been given to this already. They’re Mennonites, extremely pacifist, and they’re free to do as they see fit for themselves within the boundaries of our laws and constitution as are all of us. So, yes, to quote ninjapirate… Leave them alone.

FlatFoot on August 26, 2011 at 5:56 PM

We ARE leaving them alone. As that college exercises it’s right to ban the words and music of the anthem of my country, I also exercise my right as a citizen of this country to condemn their actions in the strongest possible terms.

gordo on August 29, 2011 at 9:33 PM