In yet another sign of just how far public education has degraded these days, a high school in California has just banned “The Star-Spangled Banner” from pep rallies for racial insensitivity. Stop me if you’ve heard this one …
Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports that according to the president of California High School in San Ramon’s student Associated Study Body, “It was brought to our attention that the national anthem’s third verse is outdated and racially offensive […] We had nothing but good intentions by removing the song so that we could be fully inclusive to our student body.”
The school didn’t respond to Starnes’ request for comment (of course), but the community is having none of it, because not every locality in California has completely purged sanity from its boundaries:
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The decision to eliminate the national anthem from student rallies has resulted in a significant amount of backlash from patriotic students and residents.
“There’s been a lot of push back on the removal of the anthem – and not just from conservatives,” senior Dennis Fiorentino said on the Todd Starnes Radio Show.
Fiorentinos, who was a guest Tuesday on my nationally syndicated radio program, said he was shocked when he realized the national anthem had been banned.
“It’s important that we honor and respect those who sacrificed their lives protecting the freedom that us Americans take for granted every day,” he said.
So why exactly is the National Anthem racist? Because of a line in the song’s third verse — a verse, mind you, that is never actually sung at school events or pretty much any other mainstream public event — that reads, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”
This, our genius teen leader says, “finds joy in the killing of African-Americans”:
“To think that our nation’s anthem once had the word slave and ‘land of the free’ in the same sentence leaves me speechless […]
“Moving forward, we must take action and be inclusive to all,” the student body president wrote. “This song was written in 1814. That was written 204 years ago. Imagine all the traditions and laws that have changed.”
“As our culture shifts to one that is more diverse and accepting of all types of people, so must our traditions,” the student government leader wrote. “And although we understand that this anthem represents pride and patriotism in our country to many people, we believe that there are other ways that this can be accomplished without an expense to inclusivity on our campus.”
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However, far from an inspiring example of racial enlightenment and cultural sensitivity, all this really proves is that this kid’s history teachers aren’t doing their jobs. Last year, the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson took a look at this question in detail, in response to the defacing of a Baltimore statue of the anthem’s lyricist, Francis Scott Key. He explained:
At the time Key was writing, the word “slave” (we’ll get to “hireling” in a minute) had long functioned in English as a wide-ranging epithet, hurled at persons of any and all colors, nationalities, and conditions of servitude or otherwise.
Shakespeare, who barely mentioned America in his writings, used the word more than 180 times in his works. Fewer than a third of those references are in the plays set in Roman and Greek times, in which characters in the drama might be literal slaves. More often, Shakespeare’s characters — including Macbeth, Lear, and many of the kings in the history plays — use “slave” as an insult […]
To Americans, while “slave” was both a common descriptive word and an epithet, “hireling” — especially in contexts of poetry and literature — ordinarily carried derogatory connotations. It meant someone such as a soldier, official, or laborer who served for money rather than from some more durable loyalty such as to family or nation.
There are any number of potential explanations for Key’s use of the term — snubbing the Corps of Colonial Marines Key fought against in the War of 1812, or perhaps simply fitting a rhyme scheme — and Key didn’t leave behind written elaboration of his reasoning. In any event, it’s more than a bit of a reach to read the above verse — which isn’t even commonly sung today — as some sort of glorification of the subjugation of blacks.
Responsible educators would use this incident as an opportunity to deepen their students’ understanding of American history. But good luck finding any of those in California.
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