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A Star-Strangled Banner?

Posted July 15, 2021

Jim Amrhein

By Jim Amrhein

A Star-Strangled Banner?

The original star-spangled banner — the actual flag that flew over Fort McHenry, inspiring the poem that became our national anthem — is housed at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. And I can tell you firsthand that seeing it is a supremely moving experience…


This photo was taken 59 years after the battle, in 1873. Look at the size of this thing — a grand old flag indeed, huh?

But I’m very worried about the ways in which America’s younger generations (and future generations, too) will be “moved” when they look upon this incredible piece of our nation’s history.

Will they be filled with patriotic pride, as I am?

Or will they feel shame and loathing for America, like they’re increasingly being taught?

Will they think about all the people who fought, died, and sacrificed to give them the ability (and the duty, I’d argue) to continually make ours a more perfect union?

Or will they only focus on the negative things about our nation and its history — caring more for self-aggrandizing condemnation and cancellation than actually forging an even greater future for themselves and their posterity?

Will they be reminded of the sacrifices the founders of this country made and the fearful odds they faced in the quest for the liberty all Americans now enjoy as a matter of right?

Or will they increasingly view our founders only as a bunch of privileged, greedy, evil white capitalists — again, like they’re being taught?

Few people realize that the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did not end up faring all that well, by and large. Nine of them didn’t live to see the end of the Revolutionary War. Five more were captured by the Redcoats, 12 had their homes sacked and torched, and still others were bankrupted, imprisoned, or hounded into the hills...

Legend holds that one of the Virginia signers was fighting alongside George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown when he discovered that his own home had been taken over for Cornwallis’ headquarters. So he directed the American artillerymen to open fire on it!

But I digress. Once again, my overarching point is that in the field trips of America’s future, will the stories of these imperfect, yet courageous men — who had everything to lose by rebelling against their own government — still be told?

Will anything that looks favorable (or even objectively) upon our nation and its history still be taught to them?

Will our star-spangled banner still fly — and the song that celebrates it still be sung?

Given what’s been happening over the last few years, I have my doubts.

Hating America for fun and profit

Just after Independence Day two years ago, in my first article for the reincarnated Whiskey & Gunpowder

I wrote about the racial controversy a certain high-profile athlete/celebrity stirred up regarding a Nike sneaker model with the original 13-star “Betsy Ross” American flag on it. I won’t promote this gadfly by directly naming him here, but I’m sure you know who I mean. He’s always got grass stains on one of his knees.

My point is that by outward appearances, this NFL star-turned-activist forced Nike — the biggest footwear company in the world — to pull a patriotic, flag-bearing, red-white-and-blue sneaker out of every store in America just before the Fourth of July. Whether he was genuinely offended, or the whole flapper-nick (see what I did there?) was a PR stunt to increase Nike’s share price and woke street cred is irrelevant…

What’s relevant is that the incident proved beyond all doubt to celebrities of every stripe that they can instantly increase their own power and visibility by taking “tactical umbrage” at America’s flag, anthem, holidays, traditions, founding documents, etc.

The diabolical twist, if I’m right, is that most of this stuff is happening for selfish or commercial reasons, rather than true conviction. I’m convinced of that because a lot of these statements and gestures seem to follow existing or rising trends in public sentiment rather than buck them.

I touched on this in my article for last year’s Fourth of July, when I wrote:

“Right now, just 17% of our nation’s people say they feel proud of America, with only 12% feeling satisfied with the state of our nation. More than half of us (53%) are not hopeful about our prospects for the near future.”

With sentiments like these, it’s really not a very big risk for some of our nation’s stars (and yes, I’m using that term loosely in a lot of instances) to bash America and her symbolic icons to increase their profile, put themselves on the map, or get back on the map.

That’s why more and more athletes are doing it — professional, Olympic, and amateur. Same deal with singers, actors, comedians, and other entertainers, too…

And leftist politicians, of course. They’ve elevated the contempt of America to a science in their quest for votes.

That’s why, again, I’m not naming any of these people. I don’t want to add to their profile or exposure in ANY way (it would be a different story if I thought they were sincere). But I’m sure you’re already thinking of any number of them right now…

Because the simple fact is that sniping at America’s symbols and icons is beginning to reflect the inevitable “escalation arc” we’ve seen in other things that have hit the public consciousness over the years.

It’s just like sex and violence in the movies

During the 30-year stretch from the early ‘60s to the early ‘90s, film directors had to keep getting more and more extreme and explicit with nudity, sex, and violence to get people’s attention. You could make a similar argument about rock-and-roll music pretty much continuously getting harder and edgier over time. I’m sure you could also make this same case with modern art and literature, too, during one span of time or another.

I’m no psychologist, but there seems to be something natural and organic about this “escalation arc.” That’s why I think we’re going to see the exact same thing play out with all this self-serving, quasi-ersatz celebrity hatred of America over the next two decades or more. You can see its progression over the last five years or so, easily.

The kneeling and back-turning during The Star-Spangled Banner and the maligning of Francis Scott Key. The cancellation of Columbus and the destruction of his statues. The destruction of statuary to other traditional American heroes, too — like Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt (yes, this is happening, look it up.) Now a lot of our holidays are no longer acceptable, as traditionally defined…

The American flag is next, for sure. That popular football star who took offense to the original U.S. “Betsy Ross” flag (the Nike incident, however it went down) set the stage for this two years ago. And now a popular recording star is calling for a redesign of our current flag. Again, I won’t name this person, but the details are not hard to find.

Sooner or later, it’s going to be the replacement of key dates in our national history with other dates, signifying other events. Our founding documents, too, will be under fire. Eventually, our city and state names could be on the chopping block, or even our national borders. You wait.

And it’ll all go on and on until we reach the point of saturation and desensitization. Or until we all wise up and realize that our natural affinity for our own nation is being perverted by a small number of people for profit and advantage.

The bottom line is that 207 years ago, when the original star-spangled banner withstood what some believe is the most pivotal battle in our country’s early historythe only thing trying to destroy that flag and nation was one powerful foreign adversary…

But now our flag and the republic for which it stands are both under attack from within, by multiple powerful adversaries, on a myriad of fronts. And those attacks are escalating at an exponential rate, for all the wrong reasons.

That’s why both “the land of the free” — and the flag that yet waves o’er it — are in more danger now than at any point since the Battle of Baltimore.

Unflaggingly Yours,

Jim Amrhein
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

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