How About a Display of Gratitude Instead?

What does this flag mean? Why do we salute it? Is it appropriate to do so or should we hold it in contempt because not everything that has happened under this banner has been perfect?

american-flag

A Christian knows that citizenship in any nation is a temporary condition. We are, as the Scripture famously affirms, strangers and pilgrims on this earth. Yet we are also told to pray for whatever nation we live in and do all we can to help it conform to Biblical principles, in society at large and in the government.

This flag, and the national anthem that accompanies it in public venues, is now being disparaged in an unprecedented manner. I hold up no nation nor any of its symbols as sacred in the same sense as I revere God and His ways. However, I am to appreciate the good that has been done in a nation and honor its symbols.

The United States, despite its manifold problems throughout its history (and I know something about that history), has been one of the greatest forces for good that the world has ever witnessed.

The current controversy centers on slavery. Let’s review.

When has slavery never existed in the history of the human race? You have to search hard and long to find any place that has never had this institution, in one way or another. Why not, instead, acknowledge that the English-speaking world, both Britain and America, led the way in the banning of slavery?

You say that prejudice continued even after slavery was banned? Again, I ask this: where, in the history of the world—and even today—has prejudice not reared its head? It’s part of the human condition called sinfulness. Why not, instead, look at the efforts of this country, in particular, to minimize the natural prejudices that arise?

francis-scott-key-on-shipThe Star Spangled Banner is now under attack as racist. Why? Consider the history of the anthem. The author, Francis Scott Key, was on a ship in Baltimore’s harbor attempting to arrange a prisoner exchange. He had to wait through the night to continue the negotiations. He feared that Ft. McHenry, which blocked the British entry into the city, would fall. When he awoke the next morning and saw the flag still waving over the fort, he was inspired to write.

The third verse, in context, speaks of how the British have sought to wipe out the land of the free and the brave by the use of hirelings (remember the Hessians in the War for Independence?) and slaves. The latter were promised their freedom if they would come over to the British side and fight. The exact words are these:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore, that the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion a home and a country shall leave us no more? Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution. 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.

I see nothing obviously racist in those words when taken in context. It’s a simple statement of fact at that moment in our history.

francis-scott-keyKey himself is also being attacked because he was a slaveholder. Yes, he was, as were George Washington and many other luminaries in those early years. Those who disparage all the Founders overlook the desire most of them expressed to find a way to wipe out slavery once and for all. They also overlook the possibility that some slaveholders were kind to their slaves and even freed some of them when they had the opportunity to do so.

Francis Scott Key was one of those. Key was a committed Christian who despised the slave system he was born into. He believed slavery was wrong in principle and did free some of his slaves. As a lawyer, he took cases on behalf of slaves seeking their freedom. One of his contemporaries even said he was “ready to brave odium or even personal danger in their behalf.”

Key didn’t advocate for mass emancipation all at once because he didn’t see how that would work. As with many of his fellow citizens at the time who worked to end slavery, he favored a gradual merging of freed slaves into the culture and the economy.

Some fault Key for his support for the colonization movement, which sought to send freed blacks to Africa to set up their own government there. That did happen, by the way. That nation is known as Liberia. Many prominent Americans joined that movement. Some did so for racist reasons, hoping to create an America with a wholly white population. Others, though, such as James Madison (The Father of the Constitution) and Abraham Lincoln, lent their support because they thought it would be best for blacks who might find it difficult to enter successfully into a society dominated by those with a British/European heritage.

Calling all supporters of the colonization movement racists is a gross stereotype that doesn’t stand historical scrutiny.

America, throughout its short history, by comparison with other empires, has demonstrated to the world that representative government can work, even when it is messy.

America has come to the aid of the world by standing up to the tyrannies of fascism and communism.

America has, by law, thrown out ancient prejudices and attempted to place all citizens on an even playing field.

America has offered opportunities to the descendants of slaves that few nations have ever achieved. Does a racist society elect a black president? Does it pay black football players millions of dollars for athletic skills because it is racist?

Then those same individuals who have been so blessed decide to make a public protest over what they consider to be a racist society?

Colin Kaepernick and others on the various NFL teams will make more money this year than I will make in my lifetime.

Should I protest? Should I reject my nation because I’m being treated unfairly? I mean, I can make a case that what I do as a university professor is far more valuable than what they do when they play their games.

We need more historical common sense and less manufactured outrage. Displays such as these public protests only help bring us down as a nation. We need to pull together and show gratitude for what the blood and toil of previous generations have handed to us.

The Four Pinocchios Award

Political cartoons usually provide the best humor on current events, but sometimes a regular cartoon can do so without intending to. Let’s see if this Garfield cartoon makes you think of someone in particular:

Half-Truth

Maybe I’m too politically attuned, but I caught a glimmer of our current leader, perhaps striking a pose similar to another disgraced president:

Crossed Fingers

Yes, he has similarities to Mr. Nixon, except he’s taken the art of lying to a new level. Even the liberal organization Politifact, which gives out “awards” for the most outrageous lies, has recognized Obama’s talents in this area:

Lie of Year

That image of Pinocchio actually comes from the Washington Post, which gave Obama its lowest rating of four Pinocchios for his whopper about being able to keep one’s health insurance . . . period. I can’t recall the last time anyone accused the Post of being part of the vast rightwing conspiracy. As others have pointed out, though, giving him the award for 2013 only is somewhat limited—he’s been telling that whopper since 2009.

What can one do when caught in a bald-faced lie? Well, there’s another ex-president who is an expert on that. Perhaps he has some advice for the present administration:

Deny

Clinton maintained approval ratings above 60% even when it was obvious he lied. Will Obama be able to match that? It all depends on how subservient the media will be—will his friends continue to point out the problems or will they pretend all is well—and how gullible the American public will be.

By the way, bearing false witness is one of the Big Ten in God’s book.

Teenage Indiscretions As a Campaign Tactic?

We’re beginning to see the outlines of how this campaign is going to play out. Helped by his friends in the media, Obama is trying to make Romney look like a bully. It’s almost funny, though. The Washington Post gave front-page status to a story emanating from the time Romney was in high school. Supposedly, he and others forcibly cut the hair of a fellow student who may have had homosexual tendencies. Please forgive my skepticism, as this “story” appeared the day after Obama’s endorsement of homosexual marriage. It was given a prominent place in the newspaper as a counter to those who might disagree with the president’s policy on this issue. See, we’re supposed to think, homosexuals have been treated unfairly, so we need to make up for it now.

Well, the boy who was allegedly bullied can’t speak for himself since he has died. His family is outraged over the story. Romney says he doesn’t recall this specific incident. He does admit that as a teenager he did things that were foolish. He’s probably the only person who ever did foolish things as a teenager, right? I mean, I’m sure the reporters who cobbled this story together were outstanding examples of moral, civilized behavior when they were young.

This is almost beyond ridiculous. Do any of us really want to be held accountable for actions that, in Romney’s case, date back about fifty years? As a teenager? What’s next?

If we really want to search for youthful misbehavior, there are more glaring examples available:

Get over it, media. Try a new tactic, Mr. President. This one diminishes the office you hold almost as much as your policies do.

Journogate?

I thought summer was supposed to be a slow news season, but there’s been so much happening, I’m having a hard time keeping up with it all. Take, for example, the revelation that a discussion board for journalists was basically a device to coordinate attacks on conservatives.

It was called Journolist. It’s now been taken down from the web due to these revelations. A prime example of the activity on this site occurred when McCain chose Palin as his running mate. These journalists were scared by the choice, fearing it would undermine the uniqueness of their anointed candidate Obama. One of the participants, Spencer Ackerman, made a wonderful suggestion.

How are we going to defuse this bombshell of a pick? he asked. Easy. Find a Republican—take your choice, whether Karl Rove or someone else—and accuse that person of racism. Any accusation of racism makes the front page; this would then change the focus of the coverage away from Palin.

Another member of the group, Dave Weigel, was a reporter for the Washington Post assigned to cover the “conservative” beat—as if conservatism was something so out of the ordinary that it needed special coverage. Of course, at the Post that would be accurate; out in the rest of the nation, more than 40% of the electorate considers itself conservative.

Weigel’s comments about conservatives on Journolist were leaked. It turns out that he had contempt for the very people he was supposed to be covering. Some of the comments were so demeaning that he had to resign from the Post.

This political cartoon suggests that Journogate has taken over in the news. I think that’s inaccurate. Unless you follow the news on Fox or online, you probably have no knowledge of this event at all. Typical.

The exposure of what most of us already knew instinctively is good. It brings to light the true state of affairs.

Three cheers for the alternative media.