The latest in the saga of the left’s narrative proffering how racist and oppressive America is involves the National Anthem and its author. Yes, Francis Scott Key was a wealthy slave owner, and yes, there is no denying his legacy of fighting the abolitionist movement. And though we do not sing, and in fact many people do not even know the additional verses exist, it has become a nail for those protesting our flag and anthem to hang their coat on. Much has changed over the past 200 years, including the accuracy of history taught in our public schools, for the sake of this nation we must all learn and “let it go.”
Just a short sidebar here, I find it odd that it is so politically incorrect to place any blame on those that purchase and use illegal drugs and that they are to be considered victims while all of the blame for drug problems in America is to be placed upon the dealers and traffickers of drugs; yet, when it comes to the matter of slavery (that is history and was abolished more than 150 years ago), the left finds it perfectly acceptable to blame not only slave owners from centuries ago, but all white people living in this country today, with no mention of those who caught and sold people into slavery. Seems a bit contradictory, by that reasoning should not the slave owners be considered victims of the slave traders? But it does not fit their narrative so that portion of history is ignored. They do not talk about the fact that it was the Portuguese who really began the trans-Atlantic slave trade, nor do they discuss the many African tribal leaders who traded their own people into slavery for weapons to fight against other African nations.
While we know today that the practice of slavery, of any people, is wrong, the fact of the matter is that slavery has been an ugly part of human history dating back as far as 3500 B.C. In the 1500’s it was Christians that were taken into slavery by the Ottoman Empire. Slavery was common in most of Europe during the dark and middle ages, and one would be hard pressed to find any group of people who were not enslaved at some point in their history. The point here being, historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Francis Scott Key are being vilified for beliefs and practices that were the norm in their lifetime. Societal norms change, I remember when a man and woman living together out-of-wedlock was unthinkable, yet today it has become normal among younger generations. This makes me wonder how future generations will view us, and what practices that are the norm today they may vilify us for. Will it be all of the unborn babies killed by abortion everyday or maybe that we fed our children food with preservatives in it?
Francis Scott Key penned the first verse of a poem that eventually became our national anthem while being held on a British ship during the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, often referred to as our nation’s second war of independence. It was the site of the American flag flying over the fort the next morning that inspired him to write the following:
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Once back in Baltimore, Key completed his poem adding the following verses:
On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
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.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d 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 preserv’d 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.
The words, “Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave”, are what many are claiming to be racist. Now, none of us are in any position to know exactly what was going through Key’s mind when he wrote these words, however, if you look at the history of what was taking place as well as the exact words themselves, you truly have to read into it to suggest it is racist. It seems pretty clear Key was referring to those soldiers attempting to take Fort McHenry in this particular portion of his poem, so lets break it down. A hireling refers to any person working for material reward; and history tells us that the British offered freedom to any slave that came to fight with them. It is worth noting here that many blacks chose to fight on the side of America, making up about 15% of her navy at that time. Key’s words did not indicate any difference regarding the fate or his feelings as to the soldiers on King George’s payroll and the slaves who chose to fight for Britain, rather he lumped them together simply using the terminology of the day that properly identified each group’s station. The black slaves that chose to fight on the side of Britain in this conflict could not properly be referred to as hirelings as they were not being paid as is suggested by working for “material reward”, but rather they were seeking their freedom, which was not considered “material” reward.
Much has changed in this great nation since the time The Star Spangled Banner was written, as has the meaning of “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Many men and women of all races have fought and died, made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we currently enjoy as Americans, the freedom represented by the flag we sing about. Each and every one of them, regardless of race, creed or gender deserves our undying respect and appreciation. Slavery was abolished in this nation long before any of us, on either side of this issue, ever walked this earth. America has a flawed history as does every other nation and tribe, we should know it and learn from it, however we cannot allow it to define us or become an issue that divides us.
The left claims that the black community is oppressed in the United States, maybe I am missing something, but I fail to see how one can claim oppression in a nation that made a black man the most powerful human being on earth, not once, but twice, and did so with an electorate that was easily two-thirds white. I fail to see how certain groups can claim oppression in a nation where they are given priority over others when applying for college, applying for scholarships or grants, even applying for jobs simply because they belong to a minority group; and this is all done through programs created under the guise of equality and diversity. Who exactly is oppressing the black community and how exactly are they doing so? The generations of the future are watching us, they are paying attention to how we treat each other and whether we seek common ground to unite as a free people or allow our differences and mistakes of the past to destroy us. Slavery happened, it was a horrible practice, it was abolished. No person alive today ever owned a slave nor was any person alive today ever enslaved. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, we are a nation of opportunity, but it is up to each individual to determine what they will or will not do with the opportunities before them. It is time to let go of the past, embrace the present, and work together for a freer and more united America.