Off the Record: Anthems not the place for political statements

Last week a member of the Canadian Tenors took it upon himself to make a political statement during the national anthem.

“We ask that you please rise, remove your hats and join in singing the national anthems of Canada and the United States of America.”

Those are words nearly anyone has heard if they’ve attended a major sporting event or merely flipped on the TV when one was in fact playing. It’s such a convention engrained within sports culture that we don’t even think about it prior to games anymore. That’s why last week, after the MLB All-Star Game in San Diego, Canadians across the country were embarrassed, shamed and outraged by the actions of a lone wolf from the Canadian Tenors.

Performing “O Canada” in front of thousands at PETCO Park, and millions more on live television, Remigio Pereira, a member of the Tenors, took a stand for himself and changed the phrase “with glowing hearts” to “we’re all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great…

Besides the fact that his addition is grammatically incoherent and baseless, it’s also an ignorant and racist act that had no place during a national anthem.

Of course, the Tenors have since issued an apology and suspended Mr. Pereira for his inconsiderate actions, but that doesn’t change the fact that it still happened. You can’t rewrite history, unfortunately.

For many not in tune with the ongoing social movement south of the border, the statement “All Lives Matter” certainly seems harmless as an act of solidarity to people of all cultures and races across society.

However, upon educating oneself to the issue and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it’s easy to see this statement for the latent example of racism that it is. The point to be made in the Black Lives Matter is not simply to say that only black lives matter. Instead, it’s pointing out that there is an undeniable inequality between blacks and whites when it comes to income, education and, most recently, interactions with police officers that needs to be addressed within society.

Another way of looking at it is through using houses as metaphor for humanity itself.

“If I say my house is on fire and you say ‘all houses matter,’ well, that may be true, but all houses aren’t on fire right now. My house is,” said Talib Kweli, American hip hop recording artist and social activist.

That’s why the Tenors act last week was received with such distaste. Essentially, it was the paragon for racism in society today. It was a thoughtless decision made without a true understanding of the problems associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and the race problem at large.

More than that, the national anthem is not the place to make a political statement such as that. Whether you agree with anthems’ place in sporting events or not, the lyrics of the country’s anthem are sacred to many Canadians and shouldn’t be changed to fit the motive of rogue singer out on his own expedition. The national anthem is supposed to be a moment of respect for our country, a moment to respect those who have fought for this country at home and abroad.

That moment was robbed from Canadians in one of the most popular moments of the MLB season. Replacing it was an opinion not true to the Canadian spirit or the anthem itself. Not soon will that be forgotten.

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