Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Teach Your Children Well

As the Civil War was beginning, Massachusetts troops were marching through Baltimore, on their way south to join the fray. (Just think - if no one ever went and joined a fray, there would be no more wars.)  Anyway, several Baltimoreans died on Pratt Street downtown when they chose to riot in the street as part of their demonstration of Southern loyalty.

A man by the name of James Ryder Randall, then living in Louisiana but a former Marylander, wrote a nine-stanza poem about all this 1861 unpleasantness.  His goal was to urge Maryland to secede from the Union and join the ill-fated Confederacy.

That didn't work out, good to hear, but along the line, the wise solons of the Maryland legislature made that song our state song, putting the poem to the tune of "O Tannenbaum." (aka "Oh Christmas Tree.")

The words to the song are offensive to many and arcane to others.  You have to know your history to know that the despot, the tyrant mentioned in the words was Abraham Lincoln.  And elsewhere, they mention the Union as "Northern scum."

This has to be the only state song that calls for the overthrow of the US Government, unless Oregon recently changed their state tune to something by Ted Nugent.

State Sen. Ron Young, D-Frederick, has filed a bill for the legislature to consider, which would eliminate some of the offensive lyrics and add a verse written by a man from Middletown in 1894.

"This is not a song that should really be our state song," Sen Young said. 

Of course, there is opposition to the opposition to having our state song be so nasty.  Jay Barringer, division commander of the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans, said that "Maryland's unique and vibrant history is embodied in James Randall's 'Maryland, My Maryland.'"

People are quick to rise up against changing things on the grounds that they dislike being "politically correct," which is another way of saying they don't mind hurting people's feelings. Mr Barringer says the song is "a history lesson" about which too many Marylanders are unaware.

I can tell the story of some awful people in history - the Hitlers, the Pol Pots, the Agnews - without calling them "scum."  As my dad always said, people who have to call others names and say revulsive things about them do so because they don't know the right words to use.

Teach the children what happened when some people started a riot. But don't make it a glorified part of our history, because it wasn't.

No comments: