(Above video description: The original file AND description can be found here in full — HOWEVER, the audio was horrible. I tried to raise the DBs but couldn’t get rid of the hiss… but it is a must watch!)
UPDATED VIDEO ADDED
The Star-Spangled Banner, long a treasured symbol of national unity, has suddenly become “one of the most racist, pro-slavery songs” in American culture. Why is this happening? And more importantly, is it true? USA Today columnist James Robbins explores the history of the song and its author to answer these questions.
A friend asked a question about a challenge via “The Root” about the National Anthem. This is the “verse” said to be “racist”
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It is said our (yes, OUR) anthem glories in black slaves dying. Here is how it is encapsulated in the NEW YORK TIMES:
The journalist Jon Schwarz, writing in The Intercept, argued yes, denouncing the lyrics, written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, as “a celebration of slavery.” How could black players, Mr. Schwarz asked, be expected to stand for a song whose rarely sung third stanza — which includes the lines “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave” — “literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans”?
Here is another sport figure’s comments on the flag:
“And stop trying to sweep it under the rug. But, see, as long as you paint that narrative, oh, it’s the Anthem, I can’t — no — anybody that does something to the Anthem — well, we know what the anthem was originally written for and who it was written by, okay? The flag, okay? We understand what the flag? What does it represent? — SHANNON SHARPE
Here, the SMITHSONIAN helps set the scene for us and how the Anthem came to be:
…A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested. Key’s tactics were successful, but because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go. They allowed the Americans to return to their own vessel but continued guarding them. Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away.
“It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.
Key put his thoughts on paper while still on board the ship, setting his words to the tune of a popular English song. His brother-in-law, commander of a militia at Fort McHenry, read Key’s work and had it distributed under the name “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” The Baltimore Patriot newspaper soon printed it, and within weeks, Key’s poem, now called “The Star-Spangled Banner,” appeared in print across the country, immortalizing his words—and forever naming the flag it celebrated….
THE DAILY CALLER notes (and so does SNOPES) that this verse was in reference to slaves and mercenaries that fought on the British side:
Francis Scott Key wrote the song the morning after the British bombarded Fort McHenry toward the end of the War of 1812, when he saw the American flag still waving. In these lines of the third verse he’s celebrating the death of slaves and mercenaries who opted to fight for the British in exchange for their freedom following the war.
✦ The Star Spangled Banner lyrics “the hireling ” refers to the British use of Mercenaries (German Hessians) in the American War of Independence ✦ The Star Spangled Banner lyrics “…and slave” is a direct reference to the British practice of Impressment (kidnapping American seamen and forcing them into service on British man-of war ships). This was a Important cause of the War of 1812 ✦ Francis Scott Key then describes the Star Spangled Banner as a symbol of triumph over all adversity
Fifty years later, in 1861, poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. would write a fifth verse to the National Anthem, reflecting the nation’s strife and looking toward a more peaceable future:
When our land is illum’d with Liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down, with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchain’d who our birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.
Here, Wendell, unlike Key, foresaw not only the inevitable emancipation of the nation’s slaves, but also the freed African Americans gaining full citizen rights and ensuring the country’s preservation. Today, this verse is not considered an official part of the National Anthem, but during the Civil War, it was printed in song books throughout the northern United States as an extension of Key’s lyrics. In this way, Francis Scott Key and the War of 1812 bequeathed to the nation not just a song, but a step toward the perpetuating of liberty—just as the Revolutionary War and Civil War did.
Again, the Left views complex history through the lens of a historical Marxist view. Something that Howard Zinn tried to do as well, but did so by rewriting history… as the Modern Left still does.
Francis Scott Key, like many during that time, had a varied history on slavery. He fought for slaves to be free in court – pro bono. But, he also fought to return runaway slaves to owners at some point in his life – probably for money. So he was an opportunistic lawyer to pay bills… nothing has changed. WIKI continues with this:
Key publicly criticized slavery’s cruelties, so much that after his death a newspaper editorial stated “So actively hostile was he to the peculiar institution that he was called ‘The Nigger Lawyer’ …. because he often volunteered to defend the downtrodden sons and daughters of Africa. Mr. Key convinced me that slavery was wrong—radically wrong.” In June 1842, Key attended the funeral of William Costin, a free, mixed race resident who had challenged Washington’s surety bond laws.
The SMITHSONIAN again notes that Key was a founding member and active leader of the American Colonization, of which the primary goal was to send free African-Americans back to Africa. Keys, even though he abhorred slavery, and fought to free slaves at times, was removed from the board in 1833 as its policies shifted toward abolitionist. The mood of the nation as a whole was shifting. While Keys couldn’t envision a multi-ethnic nation, others could. But Keys position wasn’t necessarily “racist,” as some ex-slaves wanted the same. To recall a portion of the above quote from the Capital Historical Society, “…Wendell, unlike Key, foresaw not only the inevitable emancipation of the nation’s slaves, but also the freed African Americans gaining full citizen rights and ensuring the country’s preservation.”
YOU SEE, people change… as do nations (because they, like corporations, are made up of people). I make this point in my post on AUGUSTINE, who is often used to support old-earth positions… but little know that later in his life he rejected the old-earth view and wrote quite a bit on the young earth (creationist) viewpoint.
A man needs to be judged by his life’s journey. As do nations.
Likewise, conservatives believe that Robert Byrd may have sincerely changed his formerly racist beliefs. But when Democrats accuse Republicans of racism because they went to Strom Thurmond’s (one of the only major Dixiecrats to change to Republican – watch here and here) funeral and gave him praise, even though he changed his views on race/racism. All we point out is that if praising an ex Dixiecrat at a funeral makes one racist… then what does lauding a KKK Grand Kleagle at his funeral make Democrats?
A man needs to be judged by his life’s journey.
So does a nation.
Here is the rest of the SMITHSONIAN piece I wish to excerpt:
A religious man, Key believed slavery sinful; he campaigned for suppression of the slave trade. “Where else, except in slavery,” he asked, “was ever such a bed of torture prepared?” Yet the same man, who coined the expression “the land of the free,” was himself an owner of slaves who defended in court slaveholders’ rights to own human property.
Key believed that the best solution was for African-Americans to “return” to Africa—although by then most had been born in the United States. He was a founding member of the American Colonization Society, the organization dedicated to that objective; its efforts led to the creation of an independent Liberia on the west coast of Africa in 1847. Although the society’s efforts were directed at the small percentage of free blacks, Key believed that the great majority of slaves would eventually join the exodus. That assumption, of course, proved to be a delusion. “Ultimately,” says historian Egerton, “the proponents of colonization represent a failure of imagination. They simply cannot envision a multiracial society. The concept of moving people around as a solution was widespread and being applied to Indians as well.”
You see, Americans’ belief then was “not merely in themselves [shocker to millennials] but also in their future . . . lying just beyond the western horizon” (ibid). And that is key. As Paul Johnson rightly notes in his history book on America:
“…can a nation rise above the injustices of its origins and, by its moral purpose and performance, atone for them? All nations are born in war, conquest, and crime, usually concealed by the obscurity of a distant past. The United States, from its earliest colonial times, won its title-deeds in the full blaze of recorded history, and the stains on them are there for all to see and censure: the dispossession of a indigenous people, and the securing of self-sufficiency through the sweat and pain of an enslaved race. In the judgmental scales of history, such grievous wrongs must be balanced by the erection of a society dedicated to justice and fairness.”