Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Maryland, My Maryland!

The University of Maryland marching band will no longer be playing the state song, “Maryland, My Maryland” at upcoming school events. Given the current arc of progressive action in blue states, the government may be looking into the same action in the very near future. Why?

Come on, man. Surely you’ve guessed by now. We’re taking down flags, monuments and statues all over the place. It was only a matter of time before we started banning music with “unacceptable thought” in it. And the state song of Maryland has a decidedly Confederate tone to it. (CBS Baltimore)

As much as I’ve railed against the erasure of history, even I will give at least a small nod to the fact that there’s no disputing that the song is based on the Confederacy. You can read the full lyrics at the state’s website. Here are just a few excerpts because it’s actually quite a long tune.
The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Yes, the “despot’s heel” isn’t exactly subtle, is it? The sixth stanza continues with this theme.
Dear Mother! burst the tyrant’s chain,
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain-
“Sic semper!” ’tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back again,
Arise in majesty again,
Maryland! My Maryland!
One can assume the “tyrant’s chain” is being held by the North. And answering the call of Virginia is fairly obvious. But the dead giveaway comes in the final verse.
I hear the distant thunder-hum,
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum,
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!
Northern scum? Speaking as someone born and raised in New York (even though I’ve developed a deep fondness for the south over the years) that’s kind of harsh, isn’t it? But taken in the context of the times, understandable I suppose.

One thing that’s missing from the song is any reference to slavery, to racial divisions or anything related to it. But still, it’s a battle hymn and no doubt about it.
It's widely acknowledged that most of Maryland was really a southern state at the start of the civil war, and only the presence of the Federal armies kept them from seceding  too. Maybe they would have broken like Virginia, which lost much of it's mountains to West Virginia. But the song, written at the height of the Civil War (excuse me, War of Northern Aggression) in 1861, wasn't adopted by the state until 1939.

The song seems kind of lame. It's set to the melody of "O Tannenbaum." But this means the band will no longer be playing "Oh Christmas Tree" at games! War on Christmas?

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