Probably my least favorite holiday.

Yeah, nothin’ says you love your country quite like waiting until midnight to both illegally blow up small chunks of it and annoy the bejeezus out of your neighborhood.

Fourth of July really does nothing for me. I believe in my country, but her official behavior over the last several years has been nothing but reprehensible. I survive by believing in the ideal of America, in what we can be.

Patriotism’s been reduced to its lowest common denominator. Several years ago, and I were at Red White and Boom. He and I remembered to remove our hats and stand when the national anthem played. The trailer trash a little ways in front of us who was singing along with that odious Lee Greenwood jingoistic jingle couldn’t be bothered to get off his cell phone, much less take his hat off.

Patriotism, public patriotism, has come to mean who can shout “U!S!A!” the loudest, preferably while waving a beer around. It’s come to mean not questioning your government, and questioning those who do.

That’s not patriotism. That’s chauvinism, jingoism, even self-delusion. It does not help the country move forward to keep cheering it on while it moves backward.

If you really want to celebrate Independence Day in true Jeffersonian style… raise hell.

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9 comments so far

  1. argh_jim on

    OTOH, some my friends ( and ) have made a big deal of an annual multi-hour party at their home on the fourth. I have to say, it’s one of the highlights of my summer. It’s all about the people, though.

    …and blowing things up, but that’s secondary.

  2. caindog on

    A group of us get together every year to grill, watch a movie (usually “1776”), eat some more, then watch as the city of Plano turns thousands of tax dollars into pretty lights in the sky. But it is all about the people and remembering the words of Mark Twain: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

    Oh, but if you want to make people’s heads explode, play this:

    Yes, it’s really Lee Greenwood. Yes, their brains will melt. Enjoy.

    • I need to get ‘1776’. That is such a great movie. I’ll check out that YouTube link over my lunch (telecommuting today). :)

    • Side note: when I was in grade school, we were taken to see 1776 in the theater as a field trip.

      Hands up time — who else remembers CBS’ “Bicentennial Minute”?

  3. gorgeousgary on

    It’s all a matter of perspective. We spend our July 4th on the grounds of the US Capitol, with 250,000 other people of every race, religion, ethnic group, and political affiliation. It really does remind one what is great about America.

    As for Lee Greenwood, there are several Capitol Steps parodies that help… ;-)

  4. min0taur on

    Ideology is, too often, used as an excuse for claiming exemption from social responsibility, on scales both large and small. I’ve never seen legislation that requires the inclusion of “redeeming social value” in nationalistic pronouncements, but wouldn’t it be a hoot …?

    I think my favorite bumpersticker from the Awful Aughts is:

    “YEE-HAW is not a foreign policy.”

    • It’s not the celebrations that bother me—a celebration doesn’t need to be a solemn and cerebral affair. It’s the mindset, or at least the lack of conscious thought from some of these people. I mean, they can stand there in rapturous silence rocking back and forth waving a flag during ‘Proud To Be An American’, but the people who observed proper and correct behavior for the National Anthem were us two “long hair hippie fags”.

      They’re the sort of people who consider the 1980 Olympic hockey victory to be a major foreign policy coup, as opposed to just being a remarkable and exciting sporting event. I don’t even know how to approach that kind of “thinking”.

      I love that sticker. Right up there with “I never thought I’d miss Nixon”. :D

  5. cashewlou on

    Sometimes I try to convince myself it is a generational thing; you and I were trained from a very young age that for the anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, you stood, removed your hat if you were wearing one, and placed your right hand over your heart. And we knew the words to both!

    You are right about many (not all, I must note, but many) Americans these days: if you are a belligerent thug about your country, and you have a $5 yellow ribbon (likely made in China) on your SUV, you are a patriot. Nothing else is required.

    The average American has no sense of history (else we would not be going through McCarthy II or Vietnam II), no sense of reality and no sense of what truly makes this country great. The United States was founded on religious freedom, which includes freedom from religion, if one should so choose. That is profaned today by the assumption that the US is a white, Protestant Christian nation. Period. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans, agnostics and atheists need not apply–they are being told from the White House on down that they do not count as Americans. This is an obscenity.

    I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that I do love my country, but I do not love the lazy and profoundly stupid people who claim to be patriots while acting in a thuggish, fascistic manner.

    • White Protestant *Straight* nation. Don’t forget that, too.

      I learned what I need to know about patriotism from my Grandpa Schultz, who was mayor of my home town while I was growing up. For him, the phrase “my country right or wrong” meant that we had a responsibility to do something about it when our country *was* wrong. America is not about shutting up and going along for the ride. It’s about rabblerousing. It’s about a system that doesn’t always work right, but always works in the long run.

      See, I really do believe in America. I believe in what we can be, and what we have been some times in the past. But I believe in the America of the civil rights and anti-war protestors of the 60s, of the labor and free speech activists. I consider McCarthy and Nixon and Bush anomalous, even anathema, to what we’re really about.


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