Fr. Rutler’s homily podcast.
The current mania for tearing down statues and stifling free speech by cultural
ingénues ignorant of history and logic, has reached a stellar absurdity in demands to
censure “The Star Spangled Banner” on lame claims that it is racist. If ignorance is
bliss, then those who indulge their revisionism, must be in Nirvana.
Francis Scott Key penned the words in 1814, later set to an English song “To
Anacreon in Heaven,” a tune that is a challenge to singers, as even
Renéee Fleming confessed after performing it at the 2014 Super Bowl. It is often
mutilated by rock stars calling attention to themselves by “interpreting” it. Key
wrote the words after watching 19 British ships fire more than 1,500 cannon
balls, mortar shells and rockets on Baltimore. Key was a slave-owner, which
was, sadly, not in contradiction to common practice. But he ordered the
manumission of his slaves, and in 1820 he embarked on a seven-year effort
pleading before the Supreme Court for the liberation of 300 African slaves captured
off the ship “Antelope” along the Florida coast. He also worked with John Quincy
Adams in the “Amistad” case to free 53 slaves.
Key’s poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry” which, re-named “The
Star-Spangled Banner,” became the national anthem in 1931, was based on verses he
composed in 1805 to celebrate the victory over the Muslim slave -trading pirates on
the Barbary coast, (“the shores of Tripoli,”). “And pale beam’d the Crescent, its
splendor obscured / By the Light of the star-spangled flag of our nation….And the
turban’d heads bow’d to the terrible glare…” -John Langdon, was a Founding Father
who, as first President pro tempore of the Senate, administered the vice-presidential
oath of office to John Adams. In 1805 as governor of New
Hampshire, he set aside a day in thanksgiving “for the termination of our
contest with one of the African powers; the liberation of our fellow-citizens from
Islam, which means “submission,” has never had abolitionists like the Christians
Bartolomé de las Casas and William Wilberforce. Muhammed was a slave
trader, and the Qur’an devotes five times as much space to regulating labor
slavery and sex slavery as it does to prayer. Nearly 200 million slaves, white and
black, were sold by Muslim traders over fourteen centuries, and
almost all the Africans sold to European traders for export to America were
enslaved by Muslims. Muslim slavers even raided Ireland in 1631. So many
Eastern Europeans were enslaved that the word “slave” itself comes from “Slav.”
While lip service is given to abolition in Islamic lands, slavery today is blatant in
Sudan, Niger and Mauritania and was not abolished in Saudi Arabia and Yemen until
1962 (under Western pressure). Where is the indignation of protestors here?
If revisionists would burlesque the past and mute the voice of reason, they should
first recognize that the value of life is secured best by the standard of the Cross and
not the Crescent.