an American writer, the following reminder strikes me as absurdly
obvious, but in absurd times the obvious bears repeating. Friday
is Independence Day. It is not Veterans Day or Memorial Day.
As befits a nation founded on ideas, our chief holiday lifts
the quill above the bayonet. Had the Father
of Our Country wanted a tribute to war, we would save our
Roman candles for October
jingoes will rectify General Washington's oversight come Friday.
Your ears will ring with dulce
et decorum est pro patria mori, not "we hold these
truths to be self-evident." Expect myriad scenes of "liberation"
overseas; expect little notice of the
man who penned these
in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
people to dissolve the political bands which have connected
them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth,
the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and
of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions
of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which
impel them to the separation.
God forbid anyone recite the following:
is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries
to complete the works
of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with
circumstances of cruelty
and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the
most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head
of a civilized nation.
must support George
IV and his Hessians in the colonies, mustn't we?
an odd way for a free people to commemorate their own struggle
against empire. How about some genuine patriotism on the Fourth?
Instead of buying an Australian
huckster's plan for America, let's declare our independence
anew. Turn off Fox. Light your bottle rockets with blazing copies
of The Weekly Standard (justly acquired, of course).
Ignore the hyperreal
"America" of Los Angeles, New York, and D.C., a martial
by Rupert Murdoch, starring
George W. Bush. Now gaze at the real country around you,
with all its merits and faults, and decide whether you want
Independence Day or Independence
must-read essay at Counterpunch, Bill Kauffman untangles
these two countries. One is a chorus of oligarchs spouting democracy,
diversity, and freedom; call it the "military-industrial-infotainment
complex," the United Simulacra of America. Don't bother
looking for it in your atlas, because there's
no there there. You and I live here:
am of the other America, the unseen America, the America undreamt
of by the foreigners who hate my country without knowing a single
thing about it. Ours is a land of volunteer fire departments,
of baseball, of wizened spinsters who instead of sitting around
whining about their goddamned osteoporosis write and self-publish
books on the histories of their little towns, of the farmwives
and grain merchants and parsons and drunkards who made their
Jefferson choose, national goodness or "National
Greatness?" Kauffman is hardly being metaphorical when
he writes, "[T]he difference between republic and empire
might be restated as the difference between taking the girl
next door to the Sadie Hawkins Dance and paying
a Saigon whore in chocolate bars and the Yankee dollar."
I won't spend the Fourth applauding the
death my dollars have wrought. Nor will I indulge the sad
patriotism of feeble
minds, those who think they flatter their country by bashing
I will celebrate the real America, the friendships, investments,
ideals, and ingenuity that have produced so many heroes. To
each his own pantheon, of course, but the worship of presidents
and soldiers is incompatible with a free society. I'll take
Ben Franklin, George
Washington Carver, Dorothy
Haggard, and Martha
Stewart over Woodrow
Wilson and William
Calley any day.
this July 4, let's raise a glass to the spirit of '76, and to
all those still
seeking independence. We need a little more rebellion here
and now, to be frank. You think Sam
Adams would bow to the likes of John Ashcroft? If you know
the difference between a patriot and the PATRIOT
a minute on Friday to give the King an earful. Posterity