There are some who worry that we are heading down a dangerous road. They see a trend to make America pure. We are in the process of examining the action of those who lived in America over seven score years ago and examining that person’s actions. Anything done by him that offends our present day sensibilities then actions must be taken to show our disdain for that person.
The question is where will it ever stop because the United States like other nations has not been perfect. Many people acted in accordance with the laws in existence at the time. Those laws differ from what we now believe. The question is whether it right to judge a person by the laws under which he lived or by our present day standards.
That is the basis for the division that exists in the Supreme Court of the United States. A civilized society must have some certainty in the laws that govern it. That is why the doctrine ol stare decisis was developed. This means something decided in the past must be followed except in extraordinary circumstances. Some judges take it seriously; other judges give lip service to the doctrine. The latter decide that if it is out of step with their current thinking then the law must be changed.
There is a small movement on to change the national anthem from the Star-Spangled Banner to some other song. This reason is that the author of the poem, Francis Scott Key, was a slave holder and a bigot. It seems he was district attorney in Washington, DC and enforced the law which did not outlaw slavery. It was written of him that in 1836: “Key made national headlines by asking whether the property rights of slaveholders outweighed the free speech rights of those arguing for slavery’s abolishment. Key hoped to silence abolitionists, who, he charged, wished to “associate and amalgamate with the negro.”
The author who wrote that also asked: “How is it that neither Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X nor Public Enemy came up with lesser-known hip hop artist Brother Ali’s line, “land of the thief, home of the slave?” He added to that: ““All Men are Created Equal” and “The Land of the Free”—both those mottoes sprang from the pens of men with quite narrow views of equality and freedom.”
That points to the problem of going back to find Unites State’s documents that were written by pure Americans; those whose opinions fit into the ideas of the purest of the present day. If we are to throw out the Star-Spangled banner because of the beliefs of Key then we also throw out the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution. These were all written, at least in part, by slave holders and were ratified by slave holding states.
Like Saudi Arabia has the Mataween to enforce Sharia law the United States is seeing the rise of its own purity police (PP) who seek to purify society and to rid us of any reminders of the past which offend anyone. They want to whitewash the past so it does not blacken the present. Their goal is to ensure the memory of any person who did not conform to our present day thinking be erased from public view.
These deciders of what we shall remember are now actively pursuing Justice Robert B.Taney, who in 1836 was appointed the fifth chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Most of the scholars believe he did an exemplary job in his 28 years in that position. He died over 150 years ago.
He is dead and buried in Frederick, Maryland, where he practiced law and resided. A bust of him has stood outside its City Hall for 85 years. But will not for much longer.
It offends some of the citizens because Taney was the justice who wrote the infamous Dred Scott decision in which he was joined by six other justices. His bust is to be removed if someone will take it. There seem no takers because of the fear if the PP. The PP have gone throughout Maryland demanding that all other reminders of Taney’s existence be washed away.
When that is done his gravestone and grave will remain. Will they be considered a blight on the soil of Frederick? I expect the PP will attempt to do that. You see Taney not only authorized the Dred Scott decision he also married the sister of Francis Scott Key.