Bill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem'

Bill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem'
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“I saw last night on the football game, Alicia Keys sang ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,' which now I hear is called the ‘Black national anthem.’ Now, maybe we should get rid of our national anthem, but I think we should have one national anthem. I think when you go down a road where you're having two different national anthems, colleges sometimes now have … many of them have different graduation ceremonies for Black and white, separate dorms -- this is what I mean! Segregation! You've inverted the idea. We're going back to that under a different name."

That's not a conservative radio host or cable news talking head railing about the Black national anthem. Rather, it’s one of America’s most prominent liberals, HBO's Bill MaherWilliam (Bill) Maher'Slow moving coup' — journalists need to do a better job than comedians The Jan. 6 insurrection election distraction What's at stake if Trump wins in 2024? Single-party authoritarian rule MORE.

The “Real Time” host made a compelling argument after the NFL’s season opener, particularly the part about inverting the idea that all men are created equal in embracing (intentionally or not) segregation. 

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Alicia Keys performed the Black national anthem – “Lift Every Voice and Sing” – before NBC's telecast on Sept. 9. That was the only anthem the network showed to its audience. In the Week 2 SNF matchup before the Chiefs-Ravens thriller, the anthem was not performed. 

Before Maher talked about the rebirth of segregation by creating two U.S. national anthems broken down along racial lines, he touched on the danger of teaching children as young as five to see others through the prism of race. 

"To me, when people say to me sometimes, like, ‘Boy, you really go after the left these days. Why?’ Because you're embarrassing me," Maher exclaimed. "That's why I'm going after the left in a way you never did before. Because you're inverting things! I'm not going to give up on being liberal! This is what these teachers are talking about. You're taking children and making them hyper-aware of race in a way they wouldn't otherwise be!"

Martin Luther King Jr. preached that we should judge others not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A recent USA Today/Ipsos poll shows Americans agree that young children should not be taught about racism before they’re even old enough to read a basic sentence, with just 22 percent saying children should begin learning about racism in kindergarten. 

 

Maher's sentiment was echoed by National Basketball Association (NBA) Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas in an interview with Jason Whitlock.

"When you sing the national anthem and then you sing the Black national anthem, the only thing that it does, is it’s emphasizing our separateness,” Thomas explained to Whitlock on his "Fearless" broadcast. 

“Our Founding Fathers, when they wrote the Constitution and everything else, they were talking about bringing us together under one umbrella, under one Constitution, where all men and women are created equal,” the two-time NBA champion continued.  “When you sing those two different anthems, you’re just emphasizing …there are two different statuses in this country. Black and white.”

“If you want to have one national anthem, then let’s come together collectively and decide what the national anthem is going to be for this country,” Thomas told Whitlock. “Not just the White national anthem, because the White national anthem has classified as status.”

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The conversation was refreshing because it's one that probably wouldn't be seen on CNN or MSNBC, whose hosts often seem petrified of going against the uber-liberal grain. 

Maher, Thomas and Whitlock, along with a handful of brave others, see the NFL’s empty virtue-signaling for what it is: a cheap publicity stunt. 

If the league really wants to show that it cares about racial inequality, it could invest more of its billions in profit in volunteer organizations to improve education and access to quality playing fields and coaching. 

Instead, intentionally or not, the NFL is telling its audience that it sees America through a racial prism, as two countries divided by race. And it is doing so at just the time when many liberals and African Americans are rightly rejecting that notion.

Overall, America could be at a tipping point as it pertains to division. A recent NBC News poll finds that more than 8-in-10 Americans (82 percent) believe the country is divided. And an ABC/Ipsos poll finds just 23 percent feel the country is more united under President BidenJoe BidenManchin lays down demands for child tax credit: report Abrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE

It's just a shame more of our political leaders, including President Biden, Vice President Harris and former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda  The root of Joe Biden's troubles MORE, aren't speaking out as well. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.