(A response to the ESPN His & Her TV Show Aug. 30, 2016 and other news articles)
By Danzil Monk
Once again the act of peaceful protest by an African American against America’s history of disrespect and injustice towards African Americans has sparked and outcry of mostly White protest and a plethora of knee-jerk comments and rants that hold little to no intellectual value. San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner-National Anthem is the focus of the latest debate. It is the buzz over the Internet, social media and news and was the opening topic of the ESPN His & Her TV show on Aug. 30, 2016.
The phenomena of many irrational White objections and rants on such issues is one that would make for a useful research project by an honest Caucasian whose area of expertise is in research. It would surely produce some much need psychological analysis of the “Caucasian in denial’s” mentality concerning the established guilt of White leaders of our nation throughout our nation’s history. 
Any Caucasian who habitually shifts the focus from the issue of White injustice towards Blacks in our Country, to black guilt for daring to address it or speak out against it, or Will Cain foolishly argued, “not give sufficient details of the complaint” or to some other guilt of Blacks that does not and cannot justify the evils that White American leadership has perpetrated against the Black population of America throughout our history, and still does; needs to be psychoanalyzed, intellectually scrutinized and verbally rebuked.
The show opens with the comments of three White athletes, John Isner, Drew Brees and Jim Harbaugh, all of whom foolishly objected to Colin’s “method” of protest as if they had a right to decide what nonviolent “method” a Black person should use to make their point. This is an example of the irrational audacity “some” Whites suffer from.
Neither of these White men expressed any knowledge of the history of the Anthem or why they felt Colin’s action was disrespectful based on that history. Yet all of them were offended by his refusal to stand considering the act disrespectful towards our Country, our Flag or our Veterans who died or suffered defending our Nation. But it never seems to dawn on such people that not standing would also show respect for those Black Americans who fought and died or suffered abused by Whites while seeking freedom and justice for their people. The poor intellectual vision many Whites (certainly not all) seem to have on this matter is daunting and needs to be fully investigated, mass publicized and strongly rebuked by people of all ethnicities.
But the worst offender was fill-in Co-host Will Cain a White male, who irrationally argued against his Co-host Kate Fagan’s rational observations on the matter. Yet not once in the entire show did Will Cain indicate that he had any knowledge about the history of the anthem. I will not repeat his comments here but I encourage you to watch the show via the link provided here and see for yourself how adamantly and shamelessly he rejects logic.
As for Colin, granted, Colin himself may well have misunderstood, been misinformed about or even been ignorant of the history of the Anthem, most people are, but he had every right to act in the manner he did on his convictions about this nation’s failure to live up to their obligation to treat Black people with respect.
The issue was not simply the anthem, but America and it’s unacceptably harsh relationship with Black Americans. And any Caucasian who fails to respect that truth needs to be corrected. Will Cain is unfortunately typical of many White’s denial and disrespect towards the issue as can be seen by tuning into just about any White news media. I found it difficult to listen to Will Cain’s attempt to sound intelligent.
But to be fare, and balanced, it must be acknowledge that some Blacks are just as guilty of speaking out of line and off point.
Many Blacks are just as guilty of misinformation and denial
One would think that with all of the misrepresentation, misinformation and out right disrespect that Blacks have suffered at the hands of Whites, who had and have little or no respect for honesty or even balance on the issue of White injustices to Blacks, that Blacks endeavoring to address the issues would be careful to maintain a level integrity that would by example teach Whites who suffer from a lack of intellectual integrity when it comes to this matter. But in far too many cases, this is not the reality.
Far to often, there are “some” Black thinkers, writer, reporters, bloggers, newscasters etc. who are just as eager to stick it to White people as some of them are to stick it to us by twisting, exaggerating or even fabricating “some of” the facts in an attempt to force Whites face the guilt of their groups history.
This is a tragedy, because each time it is done and can be accurately established, it distracts from the issue and helps to hinder resolution.
An example is the manner in which Some Blacks address the Star Spangled Banner as a “racist” song without even attempting to understand it’s history other than the negative slant given by those who are more interested in condemning it and its author than accurately understanding it or it’s history.
Some of the offenders are Shaun King, of the New York Daily News and Black Lives Matter Activist (Aug. 29, 2016), who proclaimed “I will never stand again for ‘the Star Spangled Banner’”, and referred to it’s author Francis Scott Key as “a terrible human being”.
Yet nowhere in the news article did he attempt to establish intelligent justification for his accusations.
Jason Johnson, the political editor at The ROOT and a professor of political science at Morgan State’s School of Global Journalism and communication, in his July 4, 2016 article “Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem” He state:
“It is one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon”
Concerning Francis S. Key he said:
“He was, like most enlightened men at the time, not against slavery”
“with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-Black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time”
These are strong accusations that are not substantiated by Jason in his article and clearly ignore aspects of Key’s life that would categorically refute such charges.
Jason assumes that because Lieutenant Key and his troops suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the All Black battalion of Colonial Marines on August 24, 1815 at the Battle of Bladensbug, that Key was so full of hate towards Blacks that when he saw the American troops withstand the British greatest effort to destroy Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 13, 1815, he was “inspired” to write the segment of the Star-Spangled Banner that mentions slaves, “ 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,” as a praise for “all” of their deaths.
Note Jason’s use of words:
“In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British invaders. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom….”
Note that there is no indication that Jason differentiates between the Blacks who fought for the British and those who fought for America. In his mind they all seem to be the same group to Francis S. Key. I think that is illogical and misrepresenting of the facts.
Jason also suggested the reader watch a video made by Morehouse students. But the film does little to add light to the dilemma or justify Johnsons negative take on the Anthem.
Neither the film or Johnson or Shaun or others I have read who reject the anthem and Francis Scott Key, seemed to be interested in being balance. None of them seemed to consider the fact that the mention of “slaves” in the third stanza of the anthem could not possibly have been a reference to “all slaves” because there were many slaves fighting on the side of America and who were indeed patriots. Therefore, to interpret the reference to slaves as an attack on all slaves, or as Key’s attitude about all slaves is misrepresentation, or at the least, lazy research.
Additionally, Key, as an imperfect White patriot in that day had every right to feel betrayed by the Black slaves who defected to the British to fight against America. Key was foolish not to acknowledge their just cause for defecting-to gain a freedom that America had not offered them- but as a White patriot at war, Key was not reacting in any unnatural manner. And to say that this made him some kind of ultra evil person is unreasonable.
Mark Clague’s piece “‘Star=Spangled Banner’ critics miss the point” provides a more balanced perspective and seriously attempts to establish the non anti-Black nature of the anthem and Key. He correctly states: “related claims about the song and its author as especially racist have been distorted and exaggerated”.
He further correctly interprets that notorious slave section of the anthem:
"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.”
So the slave reference was indeed clearly a reference solely to the Black slaves who defected to the British and not all Black slaves. Clague further explains:
“For Key, however, the British mercenaries were scoundrels and the Colonial Marines were traitors who threatened to spark a national insurrection.”
This is a reasonable assessment of the statement and does not require a blanket anti-slave interpretation. Clague continues:
“…in 1814 Key's lyric honored American soldiers both black and white. "The Star-Spangled Banner" celebrates the heroes who defended Fort McHenry in the face of almost certain defeat against the most powerful gunships of the era. America's soldiers included mainly whites, but also free and escaped blacks. Escaped slave William Williams served in the US infantry at Fort McHenry and was killed by a fragment of a British bomb. Another escaped slave, Charles Ball, writes in his memoirs of being among the American soldiers of the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla who courageously repelled a night attack and saved the city. "The Star-Spangled Banner" thus honors American military heroes, black and white, without regard to race. In this respect, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is not racist.”
This is important as I suggested earlier, Black slaves were also fighting for America and were just as celebrated in that anthem, even if that was not Key’s intention, (and there is no way to prove it was not), it would still be the fact. Clague’s provision of other rarely mentioned points by detractors further demonstrates that he was not as anti-Black as some would like to make him. Clague continued:
“Key was not an abolitionist, yet he was not an ardent supporter of slavery either and is better understood as one dedicated to ending slavery.
Key freed four of his slaves in 1842. To one, Clem Johnson, Key offered to provide a "home until his death." As a founder and officer of the American Colonization Society (1816--1964), Key viewed slavery as a moral wrong that required a solution.
Rather than abolish slavery, however, the society purchased slaves and offered them passage to Africa.… The group struggled, never receiving government support, and its often troubled African settlement eventually became the independent nation of Liberia in 1847.
Key is complicit to the extent that he was a pragmatist, who, like nearly all of America's founders and early leaders, inexcusably put the prevailing social order ahead of universal human freedom. In the context of his era, however, Francis Scott Key was surprisingly progressive.
During Key's day, Washington was a bustling capitol of a new nation that hosted both a thriving commercial slave market that traded enslaved black people as commodities as well as the largest community of free blacks in the United States. To serve this community, Key helped establish 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.”
This does not seem to me to be a person who hated all Black slaves. Clague further states:
“As detailed in Marc Leepson's recent biography, Key put his skills and reputation as a lawyer at the service of blacks suing for freedom, most notably in an 1825 case of the slave ship Antelope (a precursor of the Amistad). Speaking to the US Supreme Court, Key described the treatment of slaves as "extreme cruelty" and slaves as "unhappy victims." Key said that those aboard the ship "are men, of whom it cannot be affirmed that they have universally and necessarily an owner.”
Again, not an act of a “Black hating” White patriot hell bent of seeing all black slaves dead.
Especially when Key was known for defending Black slaves in court. Says Clague:
“…Key won the freedom of Harry Quando in 1830 and Joseph Crawford in 1834. Typically, he undertook these cases gratis, without expectation or potential for payment of legal fees. Key even led a fundraising effort to help defend a man, woman and child represented by an abolitionist lawyer.
On the other hand, Key also represented slave owners as clients suing in court for the return of their then-legal "property." In Key's professional career, the matter often seemed a legal one. Those illegally enslaved should be freed. Those legally slaves had to be freed by their owners voluntarily or purchased and released from bondage. Any moral objections Key had against slavery were often shamefully set aside at times in his legal practice.”
So while Key was not the most upstanding White patriot in those days, he certainly did not qualify as a terrible person.
As for the supposed bitter disposition Francis S. Key had against the Colonial Marines,
Stephen Dietrich, managing editor of the Horn News, in his article “No our national anthem ISN’T racist” claims that the Colonial Marines were not as involved as many seem to think. They were indeed a Black unit fighting for the British, but Dietrich says:
“However, the unit — one of two made up of escaped slaves that served under British during the war — acted primarily in a support role to the British forces. These Colonial Marines did not fight in the Battle of Baltimore. They were not in the Battle of North Point, where British marines marched on the city and were successfully delayed by American forces while the ground defenses around Baltimore were completed. They were not involved in the bombardment of Fort McHenry, a naval attack the British launched when their ground units were deterred by the American defenses around the city. How could Key be referencing them in a poem about a battle they were not involved in?”
If this is indeed true you can see how embarrassing it would be to those who make their case base on the supposed thrashing Key and his troops received from the Colonial Marines that contributed to his supposed hatred of all Black slaves.
Dietrich also makes mention of an act by Key that detractors seem to ignore.
“… it was Key who stood in front of a jail door and faced own the white lynch mob that wanted to skip the trial and hang the suspect, Arthur Bowen, from the nearest tree.”
Additionally, Dietrich refers to a number of Blacks who fought for America against the British.
“For example, there was William Williams, a runaway slave that escaped bondage in Prince George’s County in 1814. Williams escaped and immediately enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army to defend his country during the British invasion. He joined the 38th U.S. Infantry at Fort McHenry, and was one of the four Americans to die during the British bombardment.
Williams escaped slavery — so he could volunteer to give his life for our country.
George Roberts was an African-American privateer that was celebrated in Baltimore throughout his life for his role in the Battle of Baltimore. “Old George was among those who took up arms in defense of the city of Baltimore in 1814, and throughout his long life was always highly thought of by the citizen soldiery,” The Baltimore Sun wrote in his obituary in January, 1861.
Michael Buzzard joined him in the battle, an African-American that served bravely in the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the U.S. Corps of Artillery.
Charles Ball was an African-American that served in the U.S. Navy in the Chesapeake campaign as Seaman aboard Commodore Joshua Barney’s U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla, and passionately recruited fellow free blacks and runaway slaves to join him against the hated British.
Caesar Wentworth was an African-American that also served in the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla as the naval forces cook. Gabriel Roulson served as an Ordinary Seaman aboard the U.S. Sloop of War Ontario at Baltimore. Many other skilled free blacks like John Allines and James Ambly and “Fiddler” Jack Murray served as naval mechanics and ship builders in the Baltimore naval yards, building naval ships and privateers.
They, and countless others whose names have been lost to history, helped build and man the defenses in the city of Baltimore.
A Baltimore merchant noted during the construction of the vital defenses in Baltimore, “They are throwing up trenches all around the city, white and blacks are working together. You’ll see a master and his slave working side-by-side. There is no distinction whatsoever,” according to “The Slaves’ Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812.”
So while everyone has a right to their opinion, none of us have a right to make up our own facts. And integrity demands that we try to be as accurate as possible when we chose to publically state our opinions. Such efforts at integrity will go a long way to countering the multitudes of kneejerk comments that only serve to stir up hostile emotions and contribute to the atmosphere of confusion.
 I am know that such work has been done by Black thinkers, but I am not aware of an honest White report on the issue, I welcome suggestions.