The University of Houston’s Gerald Horne believes that collective America does not acknowledge the darkest moments of its history — because we still recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem.
A professor of history and African-American Studies, Horne says the Pledge is the post-Civil War “glue” that served to bind together this “artificially-constructed former slaveholders’ republic.”
Formally adopted during World War II, Horne contends the Pledge again played into the need for national unity, “not least because a substantial percentage of the citizenry, particularly those of African descent, were subjected to routine atrocities.”
He adds that “it was felt that [blacks] would not necessarily be enthusiastic about shedding their blood and making the ultimate sacrifice for this so-called Republic.”
The professor also isn’t happy with The Star-Spangled Banner.
Well, you should look at the third stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner, which is sung routinely, as you know, at sporting events, at every major, perhaps even minor, event at this country. The third stanza, the lyrics, devised by Francis Scott Key of Maryland–who, by the way, was a slaveowner, and by the way, in 1835 helped to incite a pogrom against people of African descent, particularly slaves, in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area–in the third stanza, he denounces the black population of the United States.
And one of the reasons he denounces them is because the Star-Spangled Banner comes out of the War of 1812, when there was this conflict between Britain, the former colonial power, and the United States of America, which had seceded from the British Empire in 1776. Voila, the July 4 holiday. And the African population, by several orders of magnitude, not only fought against the secession in 1776, but they aligned with London.
And the Star-Spangled Banner speaks specifically and particularly to that, reprimanding, reproving, and denouncing black people for not standing alongside the Star-Spangled Banner, but instead aligning, as the black population tended to do, with the real and imagined enemies of the United States of America.
Horne goes on to point out that there is a “resolute insistence” in saying the Pledge because we live in a “jerry-rigged republic.”
“There is a denial of the reality that this so-called republic was based primarily upon enslaving black people, enslaving people of African descent. And rather than acknowledge that brutal and bitter reality […] we get this happy talk, and we get this insistence upon saluting the flag and singing the Star-Spangled Banner.”
While Horne does have a point about the National Anthem (the full third stanza condemns Britain’s use of runaway American slaves in the Royal Army), to claim that Americans do not recognize the sins of the country’s past (and present) in our schools, colleges, and other institutions, borders on the delusional.