The new mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, gave a shocking inaugural speech on Tuesday—where he claimed that the National Anthem of the United States was an “ode to slavery.”
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Mayor Melvin Carter III, who is black, said in his speech that he was honored to have a local musician sing “The Star-Spangled Banner”—but cautioned that the song itself was apparently racist.
“We cannot ignore the painful reminder, written into our anthem’s third verse, of just how deeply injustice is rooted in the American tradition,” Carter said. “Our national freedom song is an ode to slavery.”
“This is the American paradox, passed from generation to generation, dating back to the noble group of rich white straight male landowners who embedded into our founding principles a yearning for a set of God-given rights they sought to secure for only themselves,” he added.
Carter was, apparently, referring to the little-known third verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—which is almost never heard in any public context. That verse includes the line: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.”
Historians differ on whether or not the line was an explicit reference to the runaway slaves who fought on the side of the British during the War of 1812, when the lyrics were written—or whether the word “slave” was a simply a hyperbolic attack on all enemy British troops, contrasting their “slavery” to the freedom enjoyed by the all-volunteer American militia.
Regardless, Carter’s strange and obscure attack—during his inaugural address, no less—continues the left’s highly-unpopular assault on the National Anthem.
During the height of the controversy of the NFL’s kneeling protest of the National Anthem last fall, a poll showed that 52 percent of Americans opposed gratuitous attacks on “The Star-Spangled Banner”—no matter what claims of racism may arise.