On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Milligan signing to play for Goshen


Student baseball player Mike Milligan is embarrassed that Goshen College where he is pursuing a degree has banned playing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at athletic events.

Why? Because the song is violent. Francis Scott Key was sitting in a British prison ship, worried that America might not survive the War of 1812. The White House had been torched by British troops. Congress was in hiding. Now the British armada was bombarding Fort McHenry guarding Baltimore. But as the British aerial bombs burst over the fort at dawn, Key was thrilled to see that America’s flag still waved. Baltimore had not surrendered.

But Goshen College, founded by the Mennonite church, does not approve of violence, even in self-defense.

But wait, says sophomore Milligan — the college is selective in its politically correct causes. In the name of “diversity,”  the college recently showcased a number of students presenting the national anthem of Peru. Listen to the words of that anthem, says Milligan — with just a little irony in his voice.  It praises the legacy of Inca warrior-king Túpac Amaru.

Glory proclaimed throughout the milenia
molds our national loyalty.
is the call of Túpac Amaru alerting, 
demanding and impelling us to liberty. 

Together, all Peruvians embrace this yearning
with the sacrifice of our soul and blood! 
It gave us the white and reds of our flag
announcing to the world that Peru rises sovereign

For the glory of God!

Goshen students show their support of "The Star Spangled Banner" -- photo courtesy of Brian Steiner/Goshen College

Milligan, a rather quiet young man, recently did what college students do these days. He started a page on Facebook — Which you can visit or join by CLICKING HERE. So far, more than 800 supporters have joined his cause. More than 1,200 have joined an opposing site applauding the college for banning America’s national anthem.

A quiet, non-confrontational young Catholic, young Milligan is a bit nervous about the disapproval of some of his fellow students — particularly after he appeared on national TV this morning, asking that the national anthem be honored at Goshen College.

When he got back to his dorm room, he had this anonymous e-mail letter:

Dear Mike,
We feel the need to bring to your attention that it seems like you are being disrespectful to Goshen College and Mennonites. We feel as though you are bringing unnecessary attention to yourself. It seems like you should have looked at the college more in order to see that playing the national anthem isn’t a tradition here before you came. This is about changing the Mennonite culture. We may not all have the same opinions, but we need to respect each other and not make the issue about ourselves. Hopefully playing the national anthem will help you and your team to win more. Sincerely,
Your Fellow Classmates

Oddly enough this letter had no signatures, no names — just the general disapproving tone that we all remember from the politically correct. It employs the classic strategy of attacking the messenger and putting young Milligan on the personal defensive.

Oh, and by the way, he notes, since the Goshen baseball team started honoring the national anthem on their own, they actually have won more games.

Milligan in his preferred role

He’s getting unexpected support on campus and off. One alumnus sent him the following:

Some people just don’t get it. When I was at Goshen during 9/11 it was one of the hardest times in my life. Looking back, it made me a stronger person. I can imagine some of the crazy things students/others are trying to do to you up there because of this. It’s funny how some of them act and treat you when you have different beliefs. Keep doing what you’re doing! Good luck with the rest of the season!

Another email noted:

And OF COURSE, typically, these folks feel SO STRONGLY about their beliefs, that they refuse to actually SIGN THEIR NAME to them. Amazing.

And a third added:

I agree. The “fellow classmates” do not speak for everyone on this campus. It is also shows how cowardly people are that they can’t even sign their names to something. If you are going to “call” someone out then you should have the guts to sign your own name to it as well as all the other supposed people who feel Mike is disgracing or disrespecting the college. It has truly amazed me how people have disrespected Mike claim to be Christians. I wonder sometimes how these people will fare in the real world working jobs with people who are different then them and have different viewpoints.

Meanwhile, young Milligan is uncomfortable that he has become the issue. This morning, he asked why Goshen College, if it is, indeed, a Christian college, can’t choose to sing the third verse of America’s national anthem — which is not only a prayer, but where we got our national motto:

O, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust;”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


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