The Star Spangled Banner

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about changing the national anthem from The Star Spangled Banner to America The Beautiful or some other song.  It would be kind of cool to have more appreciation for female singer/songwriters such as Katharine Lee Bates who wrote the lyrics to America the Beautiful.  I personally like God Bless America but I'm sure agnostics, atheists and other groups of people who don't call their higher power "God" don't like it as much as I do. 

Not surprisingly, the debate about our current national anthem is being fueled by Colin Kaepernick who refuses to stand for the flag and national anthem at NFL games and is an expert at getting attention.  Good thing he's using this gift for a good cause, right?  Now, our current national anthem is being called a "celebration of slavery" and it apparently celebrates the murder of African-Americans.  Supporters of changing the national anthem point to the 3rd verse which was removed from the version of The Star Spangled Banner we are most familiar with.  The 3rd verse in question:

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.

However, there is another side to this debate, CNN writer Mark Clague, writes:

""The Star-Spangled Banner" in no way glorifies or celebrates slavery. The middle two verses of Key's lyric vilify the British enemy in the War of 1812, what Key refers to in Verse 3 as "hirelings and slaves." This enemy included both whites and blacks, largely British professional soldiers (hirelings) but also the Corps of Colonial Marines (slaves). The Colonial Marines were escaped black American slaves who joined British forces because of the promise of freedom in return for fighting their former masters."

Clague goes on to says, "As a founder and officer of the American Colonization Society (1816--1964), Key viewed slavery as a moral wrong that required a solution" and "To serve this community, Key helped established the Georgetown Lancaster School for freed people of color and even taught there. Over 1,000 black children were students at the school, and most attended tuition-free."  Clague also writes: "Speaking to the US Supreme Court, Key described the treatment of slaves as "extreme cruelty" and slaves as "unhappy victims."  Does this sound like a racist to you?  To me, it sounds like Black lives did matter to the songwriter of The Star Spangled Banner.

However, the author of the lyrics for The Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, was supposedly "taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves" when he penned the third verse according to The Intercept writer, Jon Schwarz. Never mind the fact that this verse was removed.  The fact that it was there in the first place is so offensive to people that the baby should apparently be thrown out with the bathwater if any part of the song was written a "racist."  Anybody and anything can be labelled as "racist" these days.  My husband, one of the most culturally sensitive White men I know, was called a "racist" by a African-American co-worker.  This co-worker retracted her statement once she discovered that he was married to me, a woman of "color."  Apparently, being married to someone of any ethnicity other than White automatically saves you from the horror of being labelled "racist." 

Forget about the fact that Francis Scott Key freed some of his slaves in the 1830's and apparently, hired one back for wages.  Key also apparently criticized slavery's cruelties to such as degree that he was apparently called "The Nigger Lawyer" because he dared to defend African Immigrants on a voluntary basis in his job as a lawyer. 

I guess we have to find the "perfect person" and songwriter to pen a song that resonates with all Americans.  Boy, won't that be hard:  Americans all agreeing on something or someone for that matter! This transcendent person cannot be a real person with good and bad parts.  They have to be a perfect person who has never said anything or written anything they may come to regret or that is offensive in any way to others. 

Apparently, your creative creations mean nothing if you've possibly made any mistakes in life.  Apparently, it means nothing if you regret those things and try to atone for your wrongs by your present or future actions.  The Star Spangled Banner is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.  Some of the things that make it such a great song is that it is very difficult to sing and therefore reserved for only the best singers, it has lots of dynamics and it inspires us somehow on deep level.  Maybe Bob Dylan should write the next national anthem since he just won the Nobel Peace Prize.  He's not controversial at all, right?