"Two celebrity talk show hosts arguing back and forth about whether or not black Americans should have their own national anthem" probably isn't the public debate we need, but it's surely the one we deserve.
Strap in, because this is one of those things that has like four different layers over a period of many days.
It started a few weeks ago when Bill Maher criticized what he said was a growing effort to establish a "black national anthem" distinct from the Star-Spangled Banner:
"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 when you're having two 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."
No lies detected here. This fairly sensible insight, however, elicited a, well, somewhat strange response from Whoopi Goldberg on the View:
"I think because we have gone backwards a good 10, 15 years, we're having to reeducate people. We're having to reeducate people about how women want to be talked about, how black people want to be talked about, how Hispanic people want to be talked about...Just so you know, Bill, 'Lift Every Voice' has always been considered the black national anthem...Maybe other people don't feel like that, but I feel like we have to reeducate and re-tell people. We don't think rape humor's funny. We don't think talking about Native Americans in a really despicable way is funny."
Eh? What now? That kind of went off the rails at the end, though we should give Whoopi Goldberg the benefit of the doubt that she was at least trying to make some sort of coherent point.
This Friday, meanwhile, Bill Maher fired back at Goldberg and the View, criticizing the show for "somehow avoiding what I actually said."
"I am what you might call an old-school liberal who was brought up with the crazy idea that segregating by race is bad. That's what I was talking about. Again, when it comes to an anthem, it doesn't have to be the one we currently use. But it has to be just one. You know, because it's a national anthem. And symbols of unity matter. And purposefully fragmenting things by race reinforces a terrible message: That we are two nations hopelessly drifting apart from each other. That's not where we were even 10 years ago, and it's not where we should be now."
Well said, Bill. You're up, Whoop.