“In Dread Silence Reposes”: California NAACP Calls For Barring The Anthem As A Way To Resolve Of The Ongoing NFL Protests

JapaneseAmericansChildrenPledgingAllegiance1942-2In the ongoing controversy over the anthem protests by NFL players, today is likely to be one of the most stressful.  On Veteran’s Day weekend, many fans are planning to step up their own counterprotest by boycotting the games.  The NFL has pledged not to change its policy in allowing the protests. ESPN and the networks been working with the NFL to shield the game from such counterprotests by not showing the anthem or the NFL players kneeling (or commenting on the large number of empty seats at many games). It has resulted in much criticism over the relationship of ESPN and the networks to the NFL as well as their uncertain role as journalists/commentators.  In the meantime, the California NAACP has proposed a simple solution: get rid of the anthem.  No anthem, no protests.  It could bring new meaning to the anthem’s reference to “in dread silence reposes.”

I have previously said that I do not agree with the protests during the anthem. It has nothing to do with the merits of the underlying concerns over criminal justice in America. Rather, I view the anthem as the demonstration of our collective commitment to the Constitution and the values that it represents. We have not always lived up to those values but the anthem is to reaffirm both those values and honor all citizens (veteran and non-veterans alike) who have fought to make them a reality.

One of the most moving and heart-wrenching pictures in our history is the one above of Japanese-American children pledging allegiance to the flag despite being held in American concentration camps.  With the support of the Supreme Court in its infamous Korematsu ruling, we denied the most basic rights to our fellow citizens in a racist program of internment.  Nevertheless, those families remained true Americans and many would serve bravely fighting for the country imprisoning their families.  Many would become our leaders in Congress.  They understood that the values of the flag were unrealized and that we had failed to live up to our core beliefs. However, they fought to justice and to make this a better nation.  They continued to recite that pledge until they could make those words true and real in their own lives.

Given the view, I obviously do not agree with the NAACP proposal.  California NAACP president Alice Huffman insisted “This song is wrong; it shouldn’t have been there, we didn’t have it ’til 1931, so it won’t kill us if it goes away.”  She also insists that the lyrics of the “Star Spangled Banner” is offensive: “It’s racist; it doesn’t represent our community, it’s anti-black.”

The racist allegation focuses on the third stanza:

 

THIRD STANZA (FULL LYRICS AT BOTTOM OF STORY)

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.

She says that the stanza celebrate the deaths of black American slaves fighting for freedom,

Ironically, I have never been a fan of the national anthem as a song. I think other countries have songs that are easier to sing and more rousing. I like songs like “Oh Canada” that anyone can sing.

However, there has long been a debate as to the meaning of this stanza.  Critics charge that Francis Scott Key was referring to the roughly 6,000 African Americans who fled to the British during the War of 1812. They had reason to do so since the British were promising freedom and it would not be another roughly 40 years for the United States to fight a war that freed the slaves.

However, many historians have argued that the terms hireling and slave were used regularly at the time to describe British soldiers, which included mercenaries.

There is an interesting fact that supports the critics on the possible meaning of the stanza.  Key actually fought in a unit against black Colonial Marines and his unit was defeated.  Nevertheless, the meaning remains uncertain.

My opposition to the NAACP proposal is not any preference for the song, but notion that the solution to end anthem protests is to eliminate the anthem.  I have always been moved at sporting events for my kids as everyone stands for the anthem, often played or sung by kids on the team.  It is a feeling of shared values and purpose that I believe we need now more than ever.

What do you think?

STAR-SPANGLED BANNER FULL LYRICS

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?

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.

168 thoughts on ““In Dread Silence Reposes”: California NAACP Calls For Barring The Anthem As A Way To Resolve Of The Ongoing NFL Protests

  1. @Linda, November 13, 2017 at 10:46 AM
    “ ‘Represent our country in sports’?… like when teams discriminated based on color and Blacks were forced to form their own leagues? …like when public and private colleges denied enrollment to people of color, making it impossible for them to play on university teams?”

    Well, of course we have Branch Rickey to thank for starting this whole unpatriotic mess by signing the Negro Jackie Robinson to a major league baseball contract. And it’s now come to the point that we have more Negro players in professional sports than are killed by the police each year in the US!

    Thanks a lot, Branch!

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/series/counted-us-police-killings

    • The anthem doesn’t represent jingoism which is a far more extreme representation of patriotism. It represents a unified people and celebrates those that kept you and your family safe even if you didn’t serve in the military.

    • Instead of carefully defining your terms you seem to like to lump everything you don’t like into Naziism. That is offensive to those that suffered and offensive to anyone that has faced prejudice yet loves what this country stands for.

    • David Benson – clearly your vocal range is only one octave so you cannot sing the Star-Spangled Banner, which requires a voice with a vocal range of an octave and one half. Your other choices only require a voice with a range of one octave, as does O Canada. Once you ditch The Star-Spangled Banner, you are left with a plethora of choices. You can’t use This Land is Your Land, because I don’t think it’s in the public domain yet. I vote for She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes.” That should offend no one. Or Buffalo Gal won’t you come out tonight?

      You need something that is clearly outside the reach of the Disney copyright law and singable by everyone of every age group. It will also have to something taught from childhood on, so the change-over will be smooth. And it should make citizens feel patriot. I suggest Congressional committees to investigate this. Hearings, concerts, drives to write or call your Congress-person. Debates on the floor of the House and Senate over the relative merits of which song is best. This could tie up Congress for 25 years.

      • Paul S.,
        Vegetarians and vegans might be offended by “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain”. They kill the old red rooster when she comes and then enjoy yummy chicken and dumplings.

        • LOL

          The vegetarians might have beaten you to it. This song is not attributed to any individual and is played with different lyrics some omitting the rooster.

        • Either Dr. Benson prefers the original “You Are My Sunshine”, or he harbors suspicion against Woody Guthrie’s political affinities. Or he just likes “America, The Beautiful” better–possibly because the lyrics fit the melody like a hand in a glove. Or . . . He enjoys guessing games. Who doesn’t?

          Dr. Benson, I’m thinking of a number between 1 and 3. Guess what number I’m thinking of?

        • Paul C. Schulte,…
          The “God shed his grace on thee” lines would be contested as a violation of the establishment clause.
          Also, read the lyrics to see all the objections to those lyrics that the NAACP would object to as racist.

          • Paul C. Schulte,…
            Hint: Just look at the last three words of “America the Beautiful”….must be a reference to a KKK rally.😉

            • Tom Nash, perhaps you’re referring to Katherine Lee Bates original poem of 1893 which concludes:

              America! America!
              God shed His grace on thee
              Till nobler men keep once again
              Thy whiter jubilee!

              The lyrics were changed in 1904 and again in 1911. Both of those changes conclude:

              And crown thy good with brotherhood,
              From sea to shining sea.

              • Late4D…
                – And the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner could be changed as well.
                When the country has reached a consensus as to which lyrics should be changed or omitted, we’ll have a revised national anthem acceptable to all.😒

                • Paul C. Schulte quoted FLW:

                  “If they buy it, it is art.” Frank Lloyd Wright.

                  Even if rewritten by The Central Committee???

  2. “If all earthly power were given me,” said Lincoln in a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois, on October 16, 1854, “I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” After acknowledging that this plan’s “sudden execution is impossible,” he asked whether freed blacks should be made “politically and socially our equals?” “My own feelings will not admit of this,” he said, “and [even] if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not … We can not, then, make them equals.”

    • “The influx of foreigners must, therefore, tend to produce a heterogeneous compound; to change and corrupt the national spirit; to complicate and confound public opinion; to introduce foreign propensities. In the composition of society, the harmony of the ingredients is all-important, and whatever tends to a discordant intermixture must have an injurious tendency.”

      – Alexander Hamilton

      • “United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (March 26, 1790).

        “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof…”
        ___________________________________________________________________________________

        – The Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795 and 1802 were ratified by the American Founders three times beginning in the year following adoption of the U.S. Constitution.

  3. ” O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

    Embarrassing question for some time now.

    • Agreed. I mean today, bravery is equated with a transgendered “coming out” while say, a firefight in Africa isn’t.

  4. Off topic, mostly; below is an interview with two men regarding the usage of dams and water consumption in Washington State. The second interview in my view demonstrates my point better.

    Rather than engaging in constant political intrigue and ridiculous wastes of time these men bring us an insight into how discussing working on matters to achieve best outcomes can be articulated without gridlock and imbecilic power-plays. Often, water and PUD districts have the best politicians (if there is such a thing) they simply do the job at hand and don’t deviate to irrelevant topics or attempt to control citizens’ lives.

    https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2017111011

    One surprising fact was that the growth of population in King County was 30% and yet the water consumption decreased by about 30%. It is an interesting watch.

  5. I suspect not that the NAACP in its virtue signaling will demand the removal of La Marseillaise from French sporting events due its third (typically unsung) stanza. It is too busy perpetuating the divide in America to fund its existence.

    Que veut cette horde d’esclaves,
    De traîtres, de rois conjurés?
    Pour qui ces ignobles entraves,
    Ces fers dès longtemps préparés? (bis)
    Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage
    Quels transports il doit exciter!
    C’est nous qu’on ose méditer
    De rendre à l’antique esclavage!

    What does this horde of slaves,
    Of traitors and conspiratorial kings want?
    For whom are these vile chains,
    These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
    Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
    What fury it must arouse!
    It is us they dare plan
    To return to the old slavery!

  6. Among the questions these Maoists lack the courage to answer:

    – After the statues are torn down, who will new statues be erected to honor?

    – After “The Star-Spangled Banner” is banned and burned like an Elvis Presley record album in the hands of zealots circa the 1950s, what song would become the anthem?

    – Do these people even know – let along the history of the current anthem – the names of songs that served as anthem before “The Star-Spangled Banner”?

    I once had a boss that advised: don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions. The left these days is really good at pointing the finger and crying about “problems”. Yet, they are cowards when it comes to articulating solutions. Certainly they have answers to the questions posed above. Why won’t they answer?

  7. What kind of employer allows political protests at work? A bank? The dry cleaner? Stock traders?

    You know, some of us just want to watch the game, and take a break from politics. We don’t want to see cops depicted as pigs on socks, or have our mind brought back to divisive politics at the start of a game that is supposed to be a great pastime for mixed groups of friends. Historically, Dems and Repubs could all get together and have a beer to watch the game together.

    The employer is legally allowed to allow or disallow protests at work if they want to. The players are legally allowed to say or gesture however they like. It’s a free country. Most employers would not allow politics in the work place. People are there to work, and customers come for a product or service or performance. But the NFL is going in a different direction. Viewers are, too. Which is the NFL’s problem.

    We have a cultural history of patriotism at sporting events. We represent our country in sports, hence the anthem is played at sporting events. We also pledge allegiance to the flag in our publicly funded schools. When a non citizen hears the anthem or pledge, they simply stand to show respect. That’s what we all do in the US when the Canadian anthem plays. If any of us from the States took a knee, the Canadian participants would take that as the insult it was meant to be. No one would dream of doing such a gauche act.

    I also agree that the Canadian anthem is a lovely song.

    • “Represent our country in sports”?… like when teams discriminated based on color and Blacks were forced to form their own leagues? …like when public and private colleges denied enrollment to people of color, making it impossible for them to play on university teams?

  8. How proud JT must be, he feeds the willfully blind and culpable sycophants with deflecting stories with tribal reality is irrelevant feeds and posts, Not one word on the AG’s lies to congress, and so many more that his readers should know by now. The ready, fire, aim crowd has gotten bigger and more vocal against any intrusions of their reality that heaven forbid any, with a different view of life and politics. We Americans have and will always disagree with our fellow citizens on huge areas but we can and must come together for whats better for the country instead of party. I feel JT has lost that on his posts.

    • Expect no better from da Fox newscaster Turley. He defends da T rump and da Moore. Most of his base here is out in Roy Moore land so cover your eyes. Da guns are blazin.

      • As for Roy Moore, how come nobody wonders about the timing? Or that two WashPo reporters went to AL for 2 weeks to “convince” the woman to levy her accusation? Or that one of the two WashPo reporters has a criminal record?

        • Andrew delivers classic “What about…ism”. The argumentation technique, often associated with Russian political craft, is detailed in a recent John Oliver video, ” The 3 most disturbing ways in which Trump (Fox) impacts America”.

  9. Here’s some background information on the author of the “Star Spangled Banner” that may help put in perspective the sentiments of those who don’t idolize the National Anthem:

    “Key wanted to reestablish law and order in the nation’s capital and protect the white man’s right to own property in people. The constitution, in Key’s view, required no less.

    “In the spring of 1836, Key also brought charges against Reuben Crandall, a New York doctor who had brought abolitionist pamphlets to Washington.

    “The courtroom debate in U.S. v. Reuben Crandall crystallized how new ideas of rights introduced by the free people of color and their white allies had galvanized popular thinking in the mid-1830s.

    “The anti-slavery movement had forced three radical ideas into the realm of American politics: no property in people, multiracial citizenship and the freedom to advocate for both.

    “The audacity of those ideas was effective. In the 1820s, the organized anti-slavery movement in the United States was still very much on the margins. The idea of immediate emancipation caught on in 1830.
    In the next five years, the abolitionists managed to establish Washington City as a battlefield for their cause by calling for the abolition of slavery in the nation’s capital.

    “From 1838 to 1839, the 25th U.S. Congress received almost 1,500 petitions signed by more than 100,000 people. Eighty percent supported the abolition of slavery in the capital. The tide would not be stemmed.
    Francis Scott Key lost his bid to discredit the antislavery movement in the court of public opinion. The jury acquitted Crandall of all charges.

    “The defeat and family tragedies in 1835 sapped Key’s ambition. He resigned from the district attorney’s job in 1840, but remained a keen advocate of African colonization and sharp opponent of the antislavery movement. He died in January 1843.”

    https://www.theglobalist.com/francis-scott-key-and-the-slavery-question/

    • Thanks for the history, Ken. It also important to debunk the myth of Robert E. Lee as an honorable man. In his writings he expressed sadistic views and practices toward the people he wanted enslaved. Excusing an individual’s sadism, as a cultural norm of the time, demands denunciation of the culture.

  10. Here’s a perspective you don’t get to hear. since it’s near Veterans Day, I would like to ask people to think about the anthem, the flag and what patriotism has become (perhaps has always been for many, certainly the oligarchy):

    • The “King and Country” debate occurred in 1933, Jill. Sticking a head in the sand didn’t work out too well for the British political class. Pacifism comes in three varieties. Your variety is the contemptible one.

  11. The Census Bureau reports Calif demographics as follows: Hispanic 39%, white 38%, Asian 15% and black 6%. I suspect that the Calif NAACP is made up of older folks of Maxine Water’s vintage who are struggling to remain relevant.

    • “The national Anthem has no place in a sport event. Good decision by the NAACP!”

      Graciela, Why not? The NFL is not being played at the United Nations nor is it a function of the United Nations. What flag is raised and anthem played at the Olympics when honoring the gold medalist?

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