Curly “Let’s go Brandon” songs spreading across the United States should have no place in BYU.
Cheers that were recently videotaped and shared on social media at the inappropriate LaVell Edwards Stadium may only appear as an indication of a healthy school spirit. But when two young men dressed as founders – not in the slightest Cougar blue clothes – started singing “Let’s go Brandon” in a recent football match, they didn’t support anyone on the field.
No, the fans in the wig were, in fact mockery US President Joe Biden.
And they are not the only ones.
Conservatives have used the code “Let’s go Brandon” to express their dissatisfaction with the current administration, from elected officials in Congress to sports fans across the country in arenas.
The song began after a NBC Sports reporter misunderstood the most vulgar interpretation of the mockery in an interview with NASCAR driver Brandon Brown. The reporter believed Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway fans were singing “Let’s go Brandon” to celebrate the 28-year-old’s first victory in the Xfinity series. But as the broadcast progressed, it became clear that the crowd was shouting a more blatant message (not suitable for printing) aimed at the current resident of the White House.
There is certainly room for public expression of political frustration. And with anxiety on the rise due to inflation, a protracted pandemic, failed foreign policy and supply chain concerns, among other things, it’s no surprise that Biden’s approval rating has dropped sharply in recent weeks. But college-aged BYU fans are still not eligible to use harsh personal attacks – no matter how veiled they may be. Nor is it appropriate to capture a common space designed to celebrate BYU and its athletes for their own political purposes.
Such demonstrations fall under the sign of good citizenship, not to mention the sublime goals of Christian discipleship that invite us to love our enemies.
President Dallin H. Oaks, of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ, spoke last week at the University of Virginia, expressing his grief at “the way we deal with the national issues that divide us.”
While acknowledging that Americans have always worked through “serious political conflicts,” he noted with concern how many today view politics “as if the outcome they favor should surpass all others, even in our pluralistic society.”
Oaks appealed to Christians’ responsibilities to “seek harmony” and “peace” and called for a better way forward “by reconciling unfavorable positions through respectful negotiations.”
Jesus Christ said “blessed” are the peacemakers, he pointed out. And the ancient apostle Paul exhorted Christians to “follow what makes peace.”
I don’t mean that BYU students or fans would give up stadium championships or college football Esprit de corps. No one should bury political complaints or remain silent about political matters.
On the contrary, I hope that the students will take part in the political struggle. The republic needs young people of many backgrounds and in good faith to share their views in a public square.
But I hope that those of us who claim to follow the prince of peace – inside and outside BYU – will work a little harder to fill that high bill. We should persuade our citizens in more productive and high-quality ways than by imitating irrational extravagance. The basic ideals of good American citizenship require no less.
And the principles of true Christianity require much more.