Special to the Cape Charles Mirror by Paul Plante
One thing I have learned about America and the people in it today from reading the Cape Charles Mirror, and yes, this is in the light of these football protests, and all the commentary in the pages of the Cape Charles Mirror defending “taking the knee” as the right of the football player’s to do, which of course it is, since people in this country are always protesting about something, and have been doing so since I was born, without end in sight; is that we all view citizenship in this nation of ours quite differently.
For example, this comment appeared recently in the pages of the Cape Charles Mirror, to wit: The latest take on racial prejudices has been brought to the fore by the present occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue through his rhetoric of building walls to keep out People of Color.
There aren’t walls being built anywhere to keep out “People of Color.”
We happen to be a nation, like Mexico is a nation, and Canada is a nation, and like them, we have national boundaries, and one of the most basic jobs of our national government is to defend our national boundaries, just as Israel defends hers.
And there is already a wall along that border with Mexico, and has been for some time, because the Congress of the United States of America decreed there would be one in legislation that is now public law.
And that wall approved by our Congress is not intended to keep out “People of Color,” it is intended to keep out people who are not citizens of this country.
As an American citizen, as I see it, we are supposed to know those things, but obviously, the person who posted that drivel does not know those facts, and so, chooses to present us with a falsehood, as if we too were ignorant of the reality we all must function in as citizens here in the United States of America.
And in a recent thread, I was called a “patriot” in what I thought was a pejorative sense, since that is how those who self-identify as liberals, or Democrats, especially progressive Democrats, and Hillary Clinton-ites all use the term, so I thought that I would take a moment to explore what the word “patriot” means to me, and why I would not be ashamed to be called one in its proper sense.
The Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary defines “patriot” thusly:
One who loves his (her) country and zealously guards it welfare; especially a defender of popular liberty.
So yes, people, according to that definition, I am indeed a patriot, and I am not ashamed of being so.
As to “patriotism,” the Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary defines it as “devotion to one’s country.”
So, are we all “patriots” in this country then?
What about these football players, first at the pro level, and now down at the high school level, according to the DAILY GAZETTE article “Members of Niskayuna football kneel for National Anthem – Several players, cheerleader take knee, a la NFL protesters” by Michael Kelly on September 28, 2017?
Are they being patriotic or displaying patriotism by taking the knee when the National Anthem is played?
What is it about these words that offends them so:
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 bomb 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?
Pampered and privileged football player Colin Kaepernick, who started the football protests in 2016, when a black man was United States president and another black man was its attorney general, said “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
But that is just more bull****, since it is not the country that oppresses black people and people of color as Kaepernick says, and you would think that as an American citizen with the same citizenship duties I have, chief of which is know your facts, Kaepernick would know that, but obviously he doesn’t, which makes one then wonder why that could be, especially since he claims to have a college education in this country.
So perhaps we can find an answer to that question of what offends these football players and their supporters so about the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner in the Nation Review article, “Is ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ Racist?” by Walter Olson on September 15, 2017, where the author states thusly:
By now you’ve probably heard the claim that America’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” is an expression of racial hostility toward African Americans and should be either retired or at least acknowledged as a subject of national embarrassment.
Actually, people, until today, I was totally unaware of that, and if indeed, the Star Spangled Banner actually were to be an expression of racial hostility toward African Americans, which I think is a bull**** claim, then yes, it should be either retired or at least acknowledged as a subject of national embarrassment.
But is the “Land of the Brave and Home of the Free” in any way an expression of racial hostility towards African Americans, given that African Americans have fought heroically for this nation’s flag in wars such as WWII?
Getting back to the National Review article, it continues as follows:
These reports appear to have influenced the act of vandalism in a Baltimore park this week, in which a statue of Francis Scott Key, the Maryland lawyer who wrote the words to the song during the War of 1812, was defaced with red paint and slogans including “Racist Anthem.”
But although claims of this sort have been circulating since at least the 1990s, it would not be fair to say that historians are of one mind on whether Key’s song was understood in its day to be making any reference to race.
Exhibit A in critics’ account is the anthem’s seldom-sung third verse, which gloats at the defeat of the “band who so vauntingly swore” America would lose its independence: 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.
There it is: the word “slave.”
OMG, yes, there is the word slave, but what does it mean in the context of the Star Spangled Banner when it was written?
To get to the third verse, you have to first pass through the second verse, which says as follows:
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!
So when he says “Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,” who is he talking about there, the British, or African Americans?
And everybody who answered the British has it right, while anyone who said African Americans are way off base, and obviously know nothing about American history, despite being citizens here with the same duties and obligations as a citizen that I have.
And that takes us to the full third verse, to wit:
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.
When read in the context of the full song, it is quite clear to me that Francis Scott Key was making no reference to African Americans in this country.
Quite clearly, with his words “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?,” he is talking about defeatists and seditionists in this country who were for us again becoming a British colony with a British king over us.
That is who the “hireling and slave” were, those who were disloyal to this nation and its flag, as many were back then at the time of the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, a flag which represents all the people in the United States of America, regardless of their skin color, for the nation is us, and we are the nation, all of us inclusively.
Returning to the National Review, in there the author states thusly about the use of the word “slave” in a proper historical context:
In Robert Burns’s battle poem “Scots Wha Hae,” written in 1793 though set more than 400 years earlier, the word “slave” is an insult directed at his fellow Scots who would flee rather than follow their king into the Battle of Bannockburn.
Yet another Robert Burns song, “Parcel of Rogues,” describes Scotland as having been sold out for “hireling traitor’s wages.”
There we have it, people, the words “hirelings and slaves” in the Star Spangled Banner are not an expression of racial hostility toward African Americans, nor are the African Americans I know who are veterans and who do stand proudly when the Star Spangled Banner is played offended by those words, since those words to a veteran, regardless of skin color, are aimed at the skulkers veterans would be called on to defend this country against, not its own citizens.
So that is my take on that controversy, for what it is worth.
What about you, America, what is yours?