When I hear the call to stand at a public event and sing “God Bless America”(GBA), I stand in silence. Though I’m probably as patriotic as the next guy — and just as hypocritical — I’m student enough of history to know that we’re at least two grave sins short of grace.
It’s obvious that these sins have a root in the violence that came ashore with the first colonists and their primitive firearms. Was it necessary, or just inevitable? Either way, it flourishes today in the appetite that floats our largest entertainment industry. Football, of course.
Our first grave sin was our savage treatment of Native Americans. There’s hardly a deeper irony in our history than our view of them as savages. That being our excuse for herding them west until their shrinking numbers would be confined to pitiful reservations, a thin slice of the land mass that was their original home. The largest reservation is now the home of the Navajo and Hopi Nations in the northeast corner of Arizona, about one fifth the size of the state. It’s home now to roughly half of the nation’s surviving Native Americans, left to press their dreams and their cultures against the massive forces of capitalism and modern living.
No less grave has been and is our adventure in slavery. Greedy white men could not see that the importation of legions of black men and women would change the very character of the United States in too many ways to track, and eventually would doom the rule of lily-white society, while it would breed unimaginable conflicts and crimes for which we have yet to reach accommodation and solution. Little wonder that our prison population is the largest in the developed world.
Such is a price we pay for also being the gun-happiest country on the globe.
Primitive as the firearms were that landed with the colonists, we knew instantly that they overmatched any native weaponry. To ensure that advantage, we turned their improvement into one of our earliest industries, which gave us the long rifles that made it easier still to herd the Natives west, while also enabling wanton sportsmen to slaughter the vast herds of helpless bison that were the main resource of the Natives’ way of life.
Can thinking people see all this as history on which God smiles — as He/She hears our voices pounding GBA? Well, maybe the Creator owes us that, if indeed we came from divine hands?
Still, I can’t sing it, knowing that gunfire is claiming nearly a hundred lives every day in the USA. That’s a toll of more than 30K a year. I can’t believe that pleases a Creator whose aim was a just world, or a nation of Christian belief. In the National Rifle Association, the gunmakers and dealers, I see only the henchmen of the antiChrist. It was never the intent of the Founding Fathers that the 2nd Amendment would advantage such misguided souls.
Frank Mensel — June 2016
P.S. It’s my sad fortune that in my love of baseball, I must turn a deaf ear to GBA at every 7th inning stretch. FM