Happy Veterans Day: Publicly-Funded U of Maryland Defends Blackistone 'War Anthem' Comments

"When you have military flyovers and the military symbolism that goes on in sports, I think you’ve got a problem."

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On Wednesday, November 6, Kevin Blackistone, professor at the University of Maryland Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, suggested that the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was actually a “war anthem” and should not be played before sporting events. On Friday, two days before Veterans Day, the College of Journalism at the publicly-funded institution stood behind Blackistone foursquare.

Appearing on Around the Horn on ESPN, Blackistone said:

[Y]ou should also be selling the rest of the military symbolism embrace of sports. Whether it’s the singing of a war anthem to open every game. Whether it’s going to get a hotdog and being able to sign up for the Army at the same time. Whether it’s the NFL's embrace of the mythology of the Pat Tillman story. It has been going on in sports since the first National Anthem was played in the World Series back in 1917. And it’s time for people to back away….You are conflating a war anthem with a simple game. When you have military flyovers and the military symbolism that goes on in sports, I think you’ve got a problem.

Contacted for comment, David Ottalini, communications manager for the College of Journalism, said, “We promote faculty independence and they have their own opinions, that’s what the freedom of speech is all about. He is free to express his opinions. God knows people have a right to their opinions.” When TruthRevolt asked whether the College of Journalism could understand why taxpayers had a problem with Blackistone’s comments, Ottalini said, “yes, I can, personally.”

Maryland’s College of Journalism is named after Phillip Merrill, whose bio indicates “served as an assistant secretary-general of NATO in Brussels, as special assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State and as a member of the Department of Defense Policy Board. He represented the U.S. in negotiations on the Law of the Sea Conference, the International Telecommunications Union and various disarmament and exchange agreements with the Soviet Union.”

The Dean’s Office at the University of Maryland declined comment on Blackistone’s statement.