[Ads-l] the national anthem

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 28 21:56:58 EDT 2017


> On Sep 28, 2017, at 9:45 PM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM> wrote:
> 
> Some time ago Wilson Gray posted to the ADS-L about the irony if not the obscenity of having the words "the land of the free" in our national anthem.  
> 
> It turns out he was a prophet.
> 
> Last night I attended a meeting of the Progressive Coalition---New Jersey District 2.  An African-American woman named Tanzie Youngblood is running for Congress in my district (New Jersey 2nd, the incumbent is Republican Frank LoBiondo).  The Coalition had something to do with Ms. Youngblood deciding to run for Congress, and she was invited to attend the meeting.  Except for her, everyone at the meeting was white.
> 
> Someone in the meeting stated that the third stanza of the Star Spangled Banner ("and where is that band who valiantly swore/that the havoc of war and the battle's confusion/a home and a country shall leave us no more/their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution") was strongly anti-black, having to do with the demand that the British return all slaves who had sided with the British (if true, this is news to me).


The full stanza is worth citing to get the context, including the last two lines:

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 washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.


Here’s some discussion:

www.theroot.com/star-spangled-bigotry-the-hidden-racist-history-of-the-1790855893
https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-08-30/historians-disagree-whether-star-spangled-banner-racist
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-anthem-letter-20150912-story.html

LH


>  She also stated that at least some blacks dislike the Star Spangled Banner for this reason.
> 
> I pointed out that it is much more relevant that Colin Kaepernick was protesting police brutality (a la Black Lives Matter) rather than Francis Scott Key, and that Trump's demand to "respect the flag" is code for "condone police brutality".  Ms. Youngblood nodded and smiled.
> 
> - Jim Landau
> 
> PS: two political tongue-ties:
> 
> a cut-and-paste error added "meet every other Friday for drinking skeptically"
> 
> a camdidate for school board, asked why a certain man was not present, replied, "His wife is getting married".
> 
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