Mary­land an­them un­der re­vi­sion to cut Con­fed­er­acy ref­er­ences

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By ELIANA BLOCK Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

AN­NAPO­LIS — Mary­land leg­is­la­tors are show­ing their de­vo­tion this ses­sion with four leg­isla­tive ac­tions in­tent on re­vi­tal­iz­ing state pride con­sid­ered in the past two months.

One bill, passed in the Mary­land Se­nate on March 17, pro­poses to rid con­tentious lines, like “North­ern scum,” from the state song.

The move to wipe se­ces­sion­ist lan­guage from the song aligns with a for­ward-think­ing Mary­land, in­stead of one that high­lights past racism, bill sup­port­ers said.

Law­mak­ers this ses­sion also con­sid­ered leg­is­la­tion that would change the state’s motto, and es­tab­lish a state duck and a state tar­tan.

The an­them, as it is, lifts verses from “Mary­land, My Mary­land,” a poem writ­ten by James Ry­der Ran­dall af­ter the death of a friend shot while protest­ing Union troops march­ing through Bal­ti­more dur­ing the Civil War. The an­them, adopted in 1939, faced heat over verses that threaten the Union and im­plic­itly call Pres­i­dent Lin­coln a “despot” and a “tyrant.”

Re­vis­ing the song could be rewrit­ing his­tory.

Mary­land’s state an­them fell flat for bill spon­sor Del. Karen Young (D-Fred­er­ick) who said Tues­day that the an­tag­o­nis­tic lyrics, which en­dorse tak­ing up arms against the Union, are “of­fen­sive.”

“A lot of peo­ple are say­ing ‘fi­nally.’ Oth­ers are say­ing it’s chang­ing his­tory,” Young said. “It’s not chang­ing his­tory, and it’s just not ap­pro­pri­ate to have in a state song.”

Though he doesn’t con­done the Con­fed­er­acy, Sen. Robert Cas­silly (R-Har­ford) said that al­ter­ing the song is like try­ing to erase what hap­pened dur­ing the Civil War.

“The song was writ­ten at the time in the age when the peo­ple of Mary­land were most out­raged and in­flamed,” Cas­silly said in op­po­si­tion. “Ob­vi­ously it speaks with a great deal of pas­sion... the fact that we cap­ture that pas­sion is a good thing.”

Cas­silly said that at it’s essence, the an­them memo­ri­al­izes peo­ple who “stand up and fight for their lib­erty.”

Still to come is a House ver­dict on whether the Calvert fam­ily motto, which ap­pears on the re­verse of the state seal, should be changed. Senators ush­ered the bill through Wed­nes­day in a 40-6 vote to adopt.

From Tus­can, the adage trans­lates to “manly deeds, wom­anly words.” Sens. Michael Hough (R-Car­roll) and Bryan Si­mon­aire (R-Anne Arun­del) ver­bally brawled Tues­day in a Se­nate floor back-and-forth over Si­mon­aire’s bill, which would change the trans­la­tion to “strong deeds, gen­tle words.”

“That lit­er­ally makes no sense,” Hough ar­gued be­fore the Se­nate on Tues­day. “They’ve in­ter­preted it one way since 1632, so the words say what the words say... to me this is just ridicu­lous.”

Si­mon­aire de­fended his trans­la­tion, ques­tion­ing Hough’s knowl­edge of Tus­can.

The Mary­land State Ar­chives, how­ever, al­ready fol­lows the re­vised trans­la­tion, ex­tract­ing gen­dered lingo and re­plac­ing them with “strong” and “gen­tle,” for a “more ac­cu­rately trans­lated” motto.

In March, Cas­silly, who op­posed song re­vi­sions, spon­sored a bill that would make the can­vas­back duck the state wa­ter­fowl. The white-bel­lied, red-headed species was cho­sen for its dom­i­nant role in the diet of early pi­o­neers. Ac­cord­ing to Cas­silly, you just had to “go to shore, grab a gun, and you had din­ner.”

The bill was heard in both Se­nate and the House com­mit­tees, but no fur­ther votes are sched­uled.

Like­wise, a bill to cre­ate a state tar­tan — oth­er­wise known as plaid — was voted un­fa­vor­ably across both cham­bers, and with­drawn.

Bill spon­sor Del. Michael Malone (R-Anne Arun­del) came up with the idea for a state tar­tan af­ter at­tend­ing a Univer­sity of Mary­land, Col­lege Park bas­ket­ball game with his son, a ju­nior there. He was in­spired by the school’s in­ter­mis­sion tra­di­tion of un­furl­ing the state flag, and thought the col­ors would be a good way for small busi­nesses to profit on Mary­land-themed prod­ucts.

“The bill gives them a pro­mo­tional idea,” Malone said. “You could sell ties and socks with the pat­tern.”

Ac­cord­ing to Malone, a state tar­tan opens the door for busi­nesses to sell pa­tri­otic prod­ucts with­out be­ing sub­ject to lim­i­ta­tions of what you can do with a Mary­land flag.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAP­I­TAL NEWS SER­VICE/ELIANA BLOCK

The state seal in the Miller Se­nate Of­fice Build­ing, with the motto writ­ten in Tus­can.

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