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Letter to the editor: A racist anthem?

David, Boston | 9/28/2017, 6 a.m.

Whatever one’s views are about Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand and “properly acknowledge” the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” it might be helpful to read the following excerpt from the 3rd stanza of the “Star-Spangled Banner:”

“No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,”

Few Americans are aware of these lines, but their writer, slaveholder Francis Scott Key, wishes doom upon mercenaries (hirelings) hired by the British and the escaped slaves serving with them.

I wonder how Kaepernick’s critics would feel if he or others refused to stand if this 3rd stanza of the National Anthem were played and sung.

Incidentally, Key’s sister, Anne Phoebe Charlton Key, was the wife of Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, Roger Brooke Taney, who gave us the following infamous words in the Dred Scott Decision of 1857:

“In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show, that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves, nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument...They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”