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Replace the national anthem? Readers have some suggestions

A statue of Francis Scott Key atop a monument in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Md.
A statue of Francis Scott Key atop a monument in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Md. A San Francisco statue of Key, who was a slave holder, was toppled in June, others have been defaced and there have been calls to replace “The Star Spangled Banner” as our national anthem.
(Christopher T. Assaf / Baltimore Sun)

Oh, say can you sing?

I agree that “The Star Spangled Banner” needs to be retired [“‘Lean On Me’ Is the Anthem We Need” by Jody Rosen, July 19]: It’s clunky, pompous, hard to sing, and essentially an ode to a flag rather than evocative of America.

The suggested replacement, Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” is one of the finest songs ever written and an inspirational tune of togetherness in hard times — and thus should continue to occupy that role rather than becoming our national anthem.

My suggestion: “America the Beautiful.”

Yes, Rosen dismisses it, but it’s already used frequently as a stand in for “TSSB.” It evokes America’s natural beauty (and need to preserve it) and hope for coast to coast brotherhood.

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Its dated lyrics need to be updated but it better evokes what people dream of for America. And Frank Sinatra liked it enough to record it.

Pete Skacan
Manhattan Beach

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In his inaugural address, John F. Kennedy memorably spoke to his fellow citizens and said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” The spirit of freedom and independence conveyed by those words have contributed mightily to make America the greatest civilization the world has ever known.

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The words “lean on me” send exactly the opposite message.

I find “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie inspiring, inclusive and easy to sing.

Nothing wrong with “God Bless America” either.

Louis H. Nevell
Los Angeles

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I read Jody Rosen’s article arguing for Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” for the new national anthem, and although I agree that the sentiments it extols are far superior to that of the stodgy war song “The Star Spangled Banner,” it doesn’t have the necessary combination of humanity and national pride that are needed.

I would vote for Lewis Allan and Earl Robinson’s “The House I Live In.” Published in 1943 during World War II, the song was the subject of an Academy Award-winning short subject film starring Frank Sinatra and has also been recorded by singers of color, including Josh White and Paul Robeson.

The song’s lyrics timelessly encapsulate Main Street patriotism without flag-hugging jingoism. Consider the stanza: “The house I live in, a plot of earth, a street; the grocer and the butcher, and the people that I meet; the children in the playground, the faces that I see; all races and religions, that’s America to me.”

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Cary Ginell
Thousand Oaks

East meets West

Regarding “N.Y. Transplant Gets an L.A. Welcome” by Daniel Hernandez [July 20], about New York Times writer Taylor Lorenz: It is not clear to me why any media organization would ever pay a person to move across the continent to follow around a bunch of spoiled high schoolers in the Valley.

There are plenty of Angelenos who already live here whom the New York Times could hire to do that work — people who wouldn’t then further impact our limited housing stock, gentrify our many historic and imperiled communities of color, or warp our politics even further away from the urgent needs of struggling Californians.

Matthew Enger
Pasadena

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Thank you for a great article about L.A.'s people and places. I found it amazing how small minded L.A. people are about the place. I find the whole of SoCal to be fantastic as long as we are talking December to March.

After growing up in L.A. then moving back a number of times here are some ideas:

Burbank if she needs to be close — small-town feel, near most everything, should not be terribly expensive.

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Redlands if cost is an issue.

North County San Diego — if she wants the best of everything — I bought there seven years ago in Oceanside and continue to be amazed at how “nice” it is compared with anywhere else south of Santa Barbara.

If she is rich, then the obvious answer is SANTA BARBARA. The place most like “The California” of non-Californians’ ideas of California.

Tom Anderson
Oceanside, Orcas Island, Desert Hot Springs or anywhere on I-5 or 101

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Just read Daniel Hernandez’s story and I really enjoyed it.

I’m 74 and grew up in the Valley. I have worked for New York companies the bulk of my career and spent time in Manhattan, briefly living in the city.

New Yorkers were always interested in California and always kidded me when I wore sunglasses in Manhattan. My friends who moved to Southern California liked it, and disliked it, but of course many stayed. It is too spread out for them and they never could figure it out. It confused many of them. The ones who moved to San Francisco liked it. It was more compact like Manhattan.

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I love L.A.

Bruce Johnston
Palm Desert

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NOOOOOOOOOO! Not the Valley! For all the near-Eastside/Westside rivalry talk, the one thing we’re united on is that, thank GOD, we’re not in the Valley! Don’t get me wrong, the Valley is great — 10 months a year ... you can get a fantastic home with a yard and pool at the same price as a condo in Venice or Silver Lake.

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But those days when the Valley is the Valley, when it’s 85 degrees at the beach and 110 in Studio City, and every tiny particle of smog and pollution in the greater Los Angeles area finds its way to the Valley and just sits there, filling the lungs of the roasting residents, burning deeply with each inhalation ... those are the days you’d happily and eagerly trade your 2,500-square-foot house with the yard and pool for that way-overpriced 900-square-foot townhouse on the Marina peninsula. So please, warn your friend.

There’s my couple of cents, from a native, born-’n-raised Westsider who LOVES his incredibly diverse Palms neighborhood (my son’s public school is like a Jr. U.N.!), but who also very much misses his old bachelor beach pad in Venice (and who will NEVER live east of La Cienega!).

With a mask-weary smile,

Spencer Presler
Palms

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When words harm

Thank you, LZ Granderson, for your thoughtful essay on anti-Semitism [“Subtle Slurs Deserve Outrage,” July 19].

Any individual who does not confront ethnic microaggressions as they occur passively abets the systemic divisiveness that undermines equality, the very foundation of our country. Instead of attempting to magnify our differences, our collective task is to grant grace and forbearance to those who seem unlike ourselves.

Countless nations and civilizations have committed suicide by internecine conflict. Only love for our fellow man will save our country from a similar fate.

Paul H. Brown
Newport Beach

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I, as a Jew, especially appreciate that LZ Granderson, a Black man, points out that many anti-Semitic slurs are not met with outrage. He further states that many of the slurs are based on misinformation and cultural stereotypes and are not meant to be hurtful, but of course are hurtful.

He crucially asks why reactions to such anti-Semitic remarks are muted when compared with reactions to racist remarks seemingly of the same naive nature; an exceedingly important question.

I think uninformed, naive and ignorant colloquialisms deserve discussion and education rather than outrage.

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It is the “lighted marquee” anti-Semitic events that deserve outrage, such as the fatal attacks at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway in 2018; the Hamas Palestinians who want to kill all Jews, Israelis and Americans; the Holocaust; Russian Empire pogroms; the Spanish Inquisition; the destruction of two temples in Jerusalem; and of course the biblical slavery in Egypt.

I heartily agree and identify with Granderson’s belief that, “I don’t think forcing a man onto his knees makes me taller.”

George Wolkon
Pacific Palisades

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LZ Granderson’s article about outrage over recent reports of anti-Semitic comments by prominent Black men is pointing in the right direction.

I question, however, why he makes the distinction in “anti-Semitic comments is fairly muted when compared to the reaction to racists’ remarks.”

The basis of anti-Semitism and racism is identical and the former is an example of the latter. Anyone who expresses anti-Semitism is a racist (a term that is not adequate for the function it has been given).

Robert Fuentes
Redondo Beach

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I just want to say the article on Nick Cannon and the backlash he received when spewing anti-Semitic slurs was put together nicely.

I was amazed with, “I don’t think forcing a man onto his knees makes me taller.”

Precious Onwuka
Carson

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Granderson is African American and stood up against anti-Semitic attacks by other African Americans the same way he would oppose anti-Black attacks by whites. That is the best example of hope for the future I have seen in a long time.

Jerry Freedman
Los Angeles

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Thanks to LZ Granderson for the excellent column. And thanks to The Times for printing it. I’ll be watching for, and reading, his columns in the future.

David Stevig
Los Osos

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Thank you for acknowledging that any slur against any people is racism and hurtful as well as harmful. Thank you also for acknowledging that education will help break the chains of hate that have sprung from family and national ignorance.

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Susan Greenberg
Los Angeles

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LZ Granderson’s thoughtful article articulating that there’s no difference between Black and Jewish people or any other group of people when it comes to being on the receiving end of racist or anti-Semitic hate was only strange for its positioning in the entertainment section of the paper.

Yes, Nick Cannon is an entertainer, but this round started with sports figure DeSean Jackson’s hateful remarks about Jews. The afterthought blurb of the incident appeared in The Times’ Sports section one day, never to be mentioned again.

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Granderson, among others in the Sports section, has written numerous articles about Black Lives Matter and Black people suffering from racist thoughts and actions against them, as he should. So why is this one relegated to another section? I believe it’s just as important for sports fans to be given an understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong in our society today and Granderson’s excellent article should have gone into the Sports section, as most of his correspondences do.

Allan Kandel
Los Angeles

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I am so glad I read your column today, as you expressed exactly the same discomfort I felt growing up in France, with my Spanish parents.

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The same seemingly innocuous expressions about Jewish people: As a child learning my parents’ tongue, I never questioned it, thinking it was just a Spanish colloquialism and it was so infrequent, it did not bother me much because I was raised to believe all men are created equal.

So as an adult visiting my parents one day (I moved to the U.S. in my late 20s) my mom, to illustrate a point she was making, pronounced one of those racist expressions against Jewish people. I then questioned her about it, asked her if she had grown up knowing them. She said “no,” she did not remember ever meeting a Jew. As you can imagine I pointed out how racist and unfair her expression was and she responded it was innocuous, not meant as racist, etc. … at which point I pointed at how she would feel if the tables were turned. Like you, I believe my parents would never hurt a fly and did not mean to “really” offend anyone, but like you I believe it is our duty as citizens of this world to point out we all bleed the same, and words do hurt and can lead to hurtful actions, as the relatively recent past indicates.

Vigilance, love and kindness will save our world.

Thanks for your testimony, it was invaluable to me.

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Marie Mulligan
Manhattan Beach

All in the family

Regarding “Empathy for the Donald” [July 15] by Kurt Andersen: The only thing more disturbing than having Mary Trump confirm what we already knew — that her uncle, our president, is a classic narcissist with “antisocial personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and some ‘undiagnosed learning disability that has interfered with his ability to process information,’” thereby making him psychologically completely unfit for the office — is that there are still plenty of people in the United States who think that’s OK.

Peter Maradaudin
Seattle

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The smorgasbord of dysfunction elucidated in “Too Much and Never Enough” was all evident in the 2016 campaign to those who cared to look.

Kurt Andersen’s perceptive review and Mary Trump’s clinical conclusions remind me of the famous closing words in J. Louise Despert’s landmark 1953 book “Children of Divorce”: “Beyond nourishing food and shelter from the elements, children need little that is material. But their needs of the spirit, though simple, are absolute. If these are not met, nothing else can serve in their place. If they are met, nothing else matters.”

Janice Johnson Barnum
San Gabriel

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Referring to President Trump, Andersen writes “he might yet destroy our republic and is already the most improbable and spectacular world-historical monster since the chancellor of the German Reich killed himself in 1945.”

So, according to Andersen, Stalin, Mao and the many other despots who have murdered millions of their own people are not as evil as President Trump.

Trump Derangement Syndrome has reached a new low point.

Janet Polak
Beverly Hills

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Don’t lump Weiss with Carlson

Regarding “The Trump Tsunami” [July 20]: Lorraine Ali’s column might have been persuasive if she had not contorted the Bari Weiss resignation to fit her premise that Trump journalists are no longer able to support him.

Weiss, while arguably right of center, cannot be lumped with Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh as a Trump supporter.

Weiss’ thoughtful and careful letter of resignation stands in sharp contrast to everything President Trump espouses.

Louis Lipofsky
Beverly Hills

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I have no problem with Lorraine Ali’s antipathy toward Trump. I fully share that antipathy. But in writing about the flailing of his “conservative media acolytes,” she is completely unfair to Bari Weiss by lumping her in with the race-baiters Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson.

Mort Kamins
Studio City

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OK, time to send Lorraine Ali off to the Opinion pages. Her article on Monday had absolutely nothing to do with being a television critic.

Fritz Walden
Orange

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I may be missing the bigger point that Ali was trying to make, but I would hardly call Bari Weiss a Trump acolyte.

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Christopher Rose
Los Angeles

Far from the mainstream crowd

Regarding “Feedback: About Those Karen Memes ...” [July 19]: I agree with reader Jenny Amoroso who writes, “I resent it when journalists promote other legitimate new sources as the enemy.”

However, Fox News is not a legitimate news source. It’s America’s Pravda.

Thomas Bliss
Sherman Oaks

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Fox News, a legitimate news source? Thanks, I needed a laugh this morning.

Patrick Hennes
Corona

A musician will be missed

Regarding Bill Field’s obituary, “Organist and Founder of Old Town Music Hall” [July 12]: As an enthusiastic junkie of live music in L.A. I discovered the incredible Bill Field a few years ago. Having seen silent movies with live accompaniment I have always been impressed with the musicianship it takes to perform.

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Field floored me. He rolled up a ramp in an electric chair, then played to the movie for about three hours. I’d never seen such a feat. At his advanced age I implored all to see him before it was too late. I hope his protégés continue. The theater and the story behind it is a national treasure.

Paul Zimmelman
Marina del Rey


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