Swing Low

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And that is true. A significant number among those that sing that song are well aware of its political overtones, and of its use as a marching song by the far-right English Defence League. Their intent is explicitly political, malign and racist.


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Until you consider the lyrics. When I read them, and thought about them, I felt slightly sick because they are a call for the release of death by a slave who has been brutally mistreated.

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Then I recalled the aforementioned trip to Nashville and the American South. The ugly legacy of slavery was everywhere. Some of what we saw in museums about how it operated was truly horrifying. Set against that, the use of the song in a sporting context?

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Well it makes me shudder, anyway. It is certainly possible to over-moralise. It is simply a matter of being respectful. Of course, it ultimately has to be a personal decision. Not singing is just mine. There are also many who, while they might have misgivings if they thought about it, would still join in after the belly full of beer that is de rigeur at a trip to the rugby. Still, not singing the song in response to a plea from US academics and the New York Times would, to my mind, say something good about England rugby fans.

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It would show that they are grown-up enough to recognise that there is an issue here, and big enough to change as a result. If it's "only a song", why not pick another? In my case, not singing in response to an article published by the "enemy of the people", and to pleas by liberal US academics, represents a middle finger to Donald Trump. But that too is my personal choice. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Start your Independent Premium subscription today.

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    Why do rugby fans sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot?

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    First recording of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot () – The Public Domain Review

    Sport videos. Black Friday. Money transfers. Health insurance. Johnson, chose a subject that would have been familiar to African Americans, fashioning traditional religious symbols into an image meant for this community. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Luce Center Label. Luce Object Quote. Title Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. More from artist. Richard Diebenkorn. Abbott Handerson Thayer. Malcolm Roberts. Joseph A. Before you leave