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A few days ago, Jon Schwarz, a former “researcher” for Michael Moore, published a piece in defense of Colin Kaepernick. The San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback, you’ll recall, is now taking a knee during the national anthem as a protest against America, a country he says oppresses people of color like himself. This from a man who makes $19 million per year playing (or, more accurately, watching his teammates play) a game, once a week, for few months per year — a man whose free speech rights are protected by the nation he accuses of oppression and discrimination.
Kaepernick, like Schwarz, parrots the rhetoric of Black Lives Matter, claiming racism in law enforcement is rampant, resulting in people of color being murdered at an unprecedented rate and thus proving accusations of oppression. Never mind that such claims have been thoroughly refuted.
Schwarz applauds Kaepernick, asserting that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is not only a musical, intellectual and moral atrocity, but also celebrates slavery and killing black people.
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Before we get into the details, it is worth remembering a few rules when dealing with Leftists like Schwarz: Understand that their purpose is demoralization through propaganda, historical accuracy is of no interest, “facts” are readily manufactured to support the common theme that America is evil, and playing the race card is always preferable to real research to the embrace of complexity.
It’s not about honest efforts to objectively pursue truth: It’s about recruiting more Leftists to mimic Kaepernick, tear down the country.
Point 1: Is Schwarz credible? His first accusation: The national anthem “literally celebrates the murder of African-Americans.” He leads us to the end of the third verse to present his evidence, first claiming the War of 1812 started because nasty Americans were trying to steal land from Canadians. Herein lies one of the “facts” manufactured by our researcher, and as usual, “historians” in this tradition oversimplify, ignore facts and dispense with distractions like context, the dynamics of the situation, lack of communications at the time, and other complexities. For the record, Canada was a British colony at the time, and American moves to annex some of that territory were largely viewed as attempts to obtain a bargaining chip, and defend the western border, rather than an example of American lust for empire.
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Simple fact-checking reveals several reasons for war with Britain in 1812: France and England were engaged in a long war and both attempted to prevent the other from gaining advantage by placing trade restrictions on Americans; the British especially clamped down on American trade, demanding licenses be obtained, going so far as to board American vessels and kidnap American sailors, forcing them into British service; and yes, there was conflict between Britain and America over westward expansion, especially in view of British exploitation of Native American fighters pressed into service against America. And let’s not forget, only a few years before, American colonists fought a bloody eight-year revolutionary war to throw off British rule, so the War of 1812 was seen by most as the Second American Revolution.
Schwarz would distill all this down to racist Americans plundering a continent and celebrating the murder of blacks with a national anthem.
Indeed, Schwarz is correct that the British actively recruited blacks to fight against Americans in the War of 1812, and many blacks fought for Great Britain. However, he ignores the fact that both the Americans and the British were struggling with the moral question of slavery, and that the Americans had recognized their hypocrisy in the reading of the Declaration of Independence before anti-slavery sentiments sparked in England. He also ignores the fact many more patriotic blacks served with American forces in a variety of capacities against the British, services largely credited with delivering an American victory in 1815.
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Point 2: Back to the accusation that the national anthem “celebrates” killing blacks. The basis for this broad, despicable generalization is this passage in the third verse of the anthem:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.
Schwarz fills in the gaps for us: “The Star-Spangled Banner … was written by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812.” Many blacks fought with the British and died during this battle. So when Key wrote these words, Schwarz asserts, “he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves.”
Interesting conclusions drawn by Schwarz based on the fact pattern he devised versus facts we can substantiate:
- Blacks who joined our enemy — the British — because they wanted freedom became enemies by definition, and joined the most oppressive force on earth, one having no interested in freeing the slaves, one known to exploit blacks, even imprisoning and torturing 1,000 American blacks taken prisoners of war.
- It was a sure sign of Key’s racism to “celebrate” an American victory over the British and their black allies during the darkest hours of the war when all seemed lost, a victory ultimately won by a majority of Americans, including patriot blacks.
- Therefore, the national anthem actually celebrates murdering blacks, even though no death in legitimate war on the battlefield can be considered murder?
- And by the way, every American that sings that anthem is responsible for Key’s worst motives, however unproven and presented in the most speculative manner.
Schwarz ends his article with attempts to smear Key, as if that puts icing on the cake, however half-baked.
Point 3: The truth is the situation in America was complicated from the very beginning. Beginning in the year 950 with Norwegian exploration, the North American continent was visited and inhabited by people from all over the globe, bringing visions of a New World characterized by new hope, new freedom and new prosperity, and also plagued with horrible traditions and prejudices, chief among them slavery.
But rather than take a proactive approach to solving problems that remain — strengthened by people like Orlando Patterson who point out the amazing, incomparable progress achieved while showing a willingness to rightly define remaining problems — people like Schwarz and Kaepernick prefer grinding an old ax on a stone of false accusations, sharpening tactics that only serve to set us back, as if they oppose progress.
The ultimate question, then, for Black Lives Matter and these two men, as well as for President Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who support them and agree with them: Why would you prefer inflaming passions to aggravate problems versus healthy approaches to solving them?
Truth be told, there is no slavery in America, and oppression and discrimination have been largely confronted and erased. As Patterson has demonstrated, never has a country achieved such heights of “liberty and justice for all.” Indeed, if we look at slavery and racism around the world, America is a beacon of freedom and justice, while much of the rest of the world is still suffering from slavery, trafficking and racism.
Why, then, do so many people here dismiss our achievements, condemn us unjustifiably and ignore crimes against humanity elsewhere?
Could there be an agenda rightly labeled “fundamental transformation”?
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.