The White House on Friday issued a statement in response to an online campaign by conservative radio host Keith Olbermann, who called on President Donald Trump to remove a phrase from the anthem that critics say disrespects African Americans.
In a post to Facebook, the White House said the phrase “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not an “anti-black” statement.
The president has used the phrase in speeches and public appearances, including during the National Anthem at the U.S. Capitol on June 23.
“The American people deserve better than this.
We are all here to serve, not to be treated like a political football, but to be protected from violence and oppression.
We must all stand for unity and respect for our country,” the statement said.
Olberman’s claim comes after a string of racially charged incidents this week, including the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a white police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Olbbermann said in a tweet Friday that “the anthem is NOT a race game” and that he had “a friend” who is “a black woman who is dying from a gunshot wound” after a protest in which demonstrators chanted, “Black lives matter!” in support of Scott’s death.
Olbrichman’s Facebook post was deleted, but Olbermans tweet about the protest has been viewed more than 17 million times.
Olbernichman has previously used the anthem to defend his beliefs, including in a September 2017 interview with the Fox Business Network.
“We must stand up for unity in America and be unified in America,” Olberson said.
“When the people start chanting ‘Black lives Matter,’ it is not the first time the word ‘black’ has been used.”
In the interview, Olberstein said, “there are black people in America who have been killed by white police officers.”
Olberstman was born in Harlem, but his parents immigrated to the United States when he was a young child.
“I grew up listening to my mother and father tell me, ‘Don’t be scared of the white man.
Be afraid of the black man.
You have to be brave.
He is going to get you,'” Olberan told the network.
“He taught me that the Black Lives Matter movement was going to change the world.”
He continued, “I was very much influenced by that.”
Olbernith, who is black, said in the Fox interview that he believes in racial equality.
“And I feel like the anthem is a statement of love and love of our country, which is what I believe in,” he said.
In 2016, the NAACP endorsed the anthem, which featured the song by the R&B group Nelly.
“It’s about love and unity and unity for all people, not just black people,” the group said at the time.
“No matter who you are, where you come from, what race you are or who you love, we stand together, we pray together, and we stand for peace and unity.”
The president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, said at a White House event on Monday that the anthem was a “game changer” and encouraged the president to remove it.
“If you don’t want to do it, the president can change the rule,” Bannon said.