Ignorance, Taking a Knee, and Islam

Original Article


September 24, 2017

By Fr. George W. Rutler

The current mania for tearing down statues and stifling free speech by cultural ingénues ignorant of history and logic, has reached a stellar absurdity in demands to censure “The Star Spangled Banner” on lame claims that it is racist. If ignorance is bliss, then those who indulge their revisionism must be in Nirvana.

Francis Scott Key penned the words in 1814, later set to the English song, “To Anacreon in Heaven”—a tune that is a challenge to singers, as even Renée Fleming confessed after performing it at the 2014 Super Bowl. It is often mutilated by rock stars calling attention to themselves by “interpreting” it. Key wrote the words after watching 19 British ships fire more than 1,500 cannonballs, mortar shells and rockets on Baltimore. Key was a slave-owner, which was, sadly, not in contradiction to common practice. But he ordered the manumission of his slaves, and in 1820 he embarked on a seven-year effort pleading before the Supreme Court for the liberation of 300 African slaves captured off the ship “Antelope” along the Florida coast. He also worked with John Quincy Adams in the “Amistad” case to free 53 slaves.

Key’s poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry”—which, re-named “The Star-Spangled Banner,” became the national anthem in 1931—was based on verses he composed in 1805 to celebrate the victory over the Muslim slave-trading pirates on the Barbary coast (“the shores of Tripoli”). “And pale beam’d the Crescent, its splendor obscured / By the light of the Star-Spangled flag of our nation. . . . And the turban’d heads bow’d to its terrible glare . . .” John Langdon was a Founding Father who, as the first President pro tempore of the Senate, administered the vice-presidential oath of office to John Adams. In 1805 as governor of New Hampshire, he set aside a day in thanksgiving “for the termination of our contest with one of the African powers; the liberation of our fellow-citizens from bondage…”

Islam, which means “submission,” has never had abolitionists like the Christians Bartolomé de las Casas and William Wilberforce. Muhammed was a slave trader, and the Qur’an devotes five times as much space to regulating labor slavery and sex slavery as it does to prayer. Nearly 200 million slaves, white and black, were sold by Muslim traders over fourteen centuries, and almost all the Africans sold to European traders for export to America were enslaved by Muslims. Muslim slavers even raided Ireland in 1631. So many Eastern Europeans were enslaved that the word “slave” itself comes from “Slav.” While lip service is given to abolition in Islamic lands, slavery today is blatant in Sudan, Niger and Mauritania and was not abolished in Saudi Arabia and Yemen until 1962 under Western pressure. Where is the indignation of protestors here?

If revisionists would burlesque the past and mute the voice of reason, they should first recognize that the value of life is secured best by the standard of the Cross and not the Crescent.

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3 comments on “Ignorance, Taking a Knee, and Islam

  1. Catholic League President Tells Goodell: ‘You Should Be Fired’
    [Yeah, but he’s our SOB.]

    By Michael Morris, September 26, 2017

    Catholic League President Bill Donohue has written a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell–regarding the controversy over players not standing for the national anthem–telling him that he should be fired.

    Donohue also told Goodell he was sending him “my Giants lawn flag as a token of my disgust for you.”

    Below is the full text of Donohue’s letter to Goodell:

    Dear Mr. Goodell:

    You are responsible for the polarization in the NFL. Had you invoked the NFL rule regarding inappropriate apparel, you would have sanctioned Colin Kaepernick for wearing socks depicting the police as pigs. And you could have enforced the rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem. But you did neither, hence the protests.

    Accordingly, I am sending you my Giants lawn flag as a token of my disgust for you; as a veteran I am particularly incensed over your delinquency. I no longer support the NFL and hope that professional football takes a nose dive. Then you should be fired.


    William Donohue

  2. The NFL is the epicenter of the culture war right now. Trump blew it wide open, and I’m glad he did. I’ve been a Green Bay fan since I was a kid in the 60’s, but it’s over. The current quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, has asked for a kumbaya moment where everybody locks arms in a show of unity. Barf! Is he too dumb to realize he’s in the Great White North asking the fans to renounce their whiteness?

    This is all Obama, Black Lives Matter, and the New Black Panther movement. They lit a fuse under unlearned angry pawns of the collectivist state. The NFL is full of cowards. They are too stoopid to realize that dissing Trump’s base will cost them a lot. Good luck getting east-coast metrosexuals to swill Bud while cheering for the Ravens. Ha.

  3. NFL Controversy: Free speech, patriotism, and reality

    Louie September 27, 2017

    One of the stories dominating secular media over the past several days concerns the growing number of NFL players who refuse to stand for the U.S. National Anthem.

    Refusing to stand.

    This is rather different than “taking a knee;” an action which might be mistaken as an expression of deference.

    To be very clear, in the present case, at issue is that which is being withheld; not what is being given.

    In a nation already deeply divided, two camps have emerged, roughly speaking; each one laying claim to the mantle of patriotism.

    On one side, there are those who are offended by what they see as a show of disrespect – for the flag, for the nation, and for its citizens at large; in particular, those who currently serve, or have served, in the armed forces.

    On the other side are those who view the matter primarily in terms of “freedom of speech;” asserting that their understanding of the situation is thus eminently patriotic.

    Among this latter group are even persons who don’t necessarily find the protesters’ most basic premises convincing; namely, that police brutality and racial inequality are prevalent in the United States – claims lost amid the anti-Trump hysteria.

    As it is often said in this country, “I don’t believe in what you’re saying, but I will defend your right to say it.”

    Let’s take a closer look at the situation through the lens of Catholic tradition; i.e., reality.

    The discord in this case is animated by a certain tension that has arisen between rights and duties; at least insofar as they are largely perceived.

    Properly understood, rights and duties are never truly opposed to one another, but rather do they harmoniously coexist, and it is only in the degree to which each is given its due that society will come to realize authentic peace and harmony.

    It should perhaps go without say, but clearly it must be admitted that the very concept of duty is rather unpopular in our culture; with demands for so-called “rights” being so commonplace as to strip the word of any real meaning.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

    So, what comes first; a citizen’s duty to honor his country, or his right to free speech?

    Let’s begin with an examination of the latter.

    Far from being viewed as merely a civil right or a constitutional matter, churchmen in our day often cite freedom of speech as if it were a religious precept.

    For example, in an article recently written for National Catholic Register (Catholics Beware: The Attack on Free Speech is Growing Stronger), Monsignor Charles Pope said:

    One of the greatest and most prized things about our country has been our dedication to free speech and open, honest discussion and debate about issues and policies. Unfortunately, that has been eroding over the past few decades.

    After documenting various efforts on the part of the political left to suppress the dissemination of opposing views, he then implied that the concept of free speech is tantamount to an article of faith, saying:

    As Catholics, this should alarm us because it touches on religious liberty.

    Msgr. Pope is referring, of course, to the Second Vatican Council’s concept of religious liberty; one modeled after the pluralistic U.S. Constitutional approach whereby false religions are placed on the same level as the one true faith established by Jesus Christ.

    Much has been written in this space demonstrating that this view of so-called “religious liberty” is in no way compatible with authentic Catholic doctrine. I invite you to search for and read those articles if you’ve not already.

    Msgr. Pope comes to his main point:

    Many of today’s politically required views run counter to our moral and doctrinal teachings. These teachings have not changed for thousands of years; until about twenty years ago these positions were held by most Americans. We Catholics sincerely believe them to be revealed by God Himself and firmly rooted in both the Bible and Natural Law.

    The error here is subtle, but it is an error nonetheless, and it is simply this:

    Not only do we Catholics sincerely believe that certain moral and doctrinal teachings have been revealed by God Himself; they have been revealed by God Himself.

    The difference is substantial.

    According to Msgr. Pope’s presentation of the “free speech” approach, we have a right to proclaim the things that we sincerely believe. Why? Because we have religious liberty, and the State is obligated to honor it.

    According to a fully Catholic understanding of the matter, by contrast, we have a duty to proclaim those moral and doctrinal teachings that have been revealed by God. Why? Because He is God!

    What’s more, the State has a duty to order its affairs according to those very same teachings and for the very same reason.

    At this, let us now turn to the wisdom of the Angelic Doctor for greater insight into the matter of patriotism:

    Man becomes a debtor to other men in various ways, according to their various excellence and the various benefits received from them. On both counts, God holds first place, for He is supremely excellent, and is for us the first principle of being and government. On the second place, the principles of our being and government are our parents and our country that have given us birth and nourishment. Consequently man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. Wherefore just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to piety, in the second place, to give worship to one’s parents and one’s country. (Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ, II-II, Q1, A1)

    In this brief treatment touching on a proper understanding of patriotism, otherwise known as piety for one’s country, St. Thomas reiterates the indispensable key several times:

    God holds first place… He is the first principle… Man is debtor to others, including his country, but only after God…

    As mere creatures, more than anything else, we stand before the Creator, both as individuals and as nations, as those who are duty bound first and foremost.

    We find this truth reflected in the inaugural Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, wherein the Holy Father described patriotism as “the stimulus of so many virtues and of so many noble acts of heroism,” but only insofar as it is “kept within the bounds of the law of Christ.”

    Otherwise, Pope Pius explained, it can become an “incentive to grave injustice.”

    Indeed, the first demand of justice (that is, rendering to others their due) is that we grant unto God the worship, the reverence, the gratitude, the obedience, etc. that He is owed simply because of who He is.

    Whatever authentic rights we may enjoy as creatures come to us from Him, and they can only be fully comprehended, realized and exercised in relation to Him, and this includes any claim to freedom of speech.

    At this, let’s return to the question at hand, asking it another way:

    Is it more patriotic to lay stress on one’s duty to demonstrate piety toward one’s nation, or one’s right to freely express oneself in an effort, well-conceived or not, to better one’s nation?

    The answer is neither.

    Missing not only from the current debate, but from the guiding principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution (as explored in some detail HERE and elsewhere in this space) is precisely what St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope Pius XI stressed.

    Our failure as a nation to acknowledge the primacy of God and the Law of Christ has created a society wherein man has turned, not only against his neighbor, but against himself; even to the point where our civil laws literally promote extinction by way of so-called “rights” to abortion and gay marriage.

    Professional athletes who refuse to demonstrate piety toward their own nation, as they most certainly should, and the controversy that has ensued, are but symptoms of a much graver evil:

    God is not, and never has been, our first principle in this nation; rather, “We the People” have anointed ourselves as such.

    With the very Source of authentic unity thus denied, of course we are a nation divided.

    Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. (Mt. 12:25)

    Should NFL players stand for the National Anthem as an expression of piety for their country, the one they claim to love and wish to improve?


    But unless we as a nation learn to kneel before God – and that means willingly submitting to the “sweet and saving yoke” of Christ the King, staying within the bounds of His Law, and rendering unto Him all that He is due – we will continue to hurtle toward our demise.

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