On this day, September 14, in 1814, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem that was eventually set to music and, by act of Congress in 1931, became America’s official National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The poem, originally titled “The Defence of Fort M’Henry,” was written after Key witnessed the Maryland fort standing up to furious bombardment by the British during the War of 1812. A lone, tattered U.S. flag was still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, giving rise to the anthem’s most bracing line, “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”
I’ve listened to the Anthem being attacked more or less my whole life—it’s bellicose, it’s too hard to sing, it’s set to the music of a drinking song, it was written by a slave-holder. What matters is that the Anthem, unlike so many others nations’ anthems, has a authentic historical origin linked to an existtential crisis in our history, and that it eloquently represents the American character and its dedication to hope, perseverance, and resilience. The Star Spangled Banner may be hard to sing, but when a crowd sings it with passion, or when a singer knocks it out of the park like the late, great Whitney Houston, only France’s Marseillaise can equal it for sheer chills.
The current assault on the Anthem, and the use of it for cheap political theatrics by refusing to stand and convey proper respect for what it represents, is an attack on American history, values and culture. Nothing less.
1. It’s called “paying one’s debt to society.” I have no intense objection to allowing convicted felons to vote once they have served their sentences. I also have no intense objection to banning convicted felons from voting for life. In 2018, Florida’s voters decided to end the disenfranchisement of those convicted of felonies, except for murder and sexual offenses. Then the battle became whether convicted felons should be required to pay all the fines related to their crimes before they became eligible to vote again.
Well, of course. Isn’t that intrinsically obvious? You can vote when you have paid society’s requirements as a punishment for the felony: whether that is time in prison, or time on probation, or a cash fine, it’s all part of the “debt to society.” Pay that debt, and then you can vote.
But Democrats are expert in representing legitimate requirements and safeguards for voting as sinister voting suppression schemes, so in May a Florida court ruled that requiring convicted felons, many of whom are indigent, to pay court-ordered fines before they could regain the vote was unlawful discrimination, by imposing an unconstitutional “pay-to-vote system.”
What an astoundingly deceitful and dishonest argument! Is requiring people to pay for their groceries a vicious “pay not to starve to death” system? The fines have nothing to do with voting. The fines have to do with completing the punishment for the felonies. Calling the fines the equivalent of a poll tax is clever but deliberately misleading, yet a court bought it. Fortunately, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta overturned that decision, and ruled that the 2019 Florida law requiring ex-felons to pay their fines before being re-enfranchised was indeed constitutional.
And it is. Continue reading