by T.J. Webb
If you are like me, you may be really wrestling with whether or not today should see you donning an American Flag t-shirt, throwing the kids in the sidecar, waving tiny American Flags, and driving down to participate in the local parade like you do every year (or whatever your annual 4th of July tradition is). It’s hard to know how overtly patriotic to be when the nation is in the midst of such moral crises. Are we permitted to parade in the streets while privately and publicly denouncing so many of the actions of our government and the words and standpoints of our elected officials?
I don’t know the answer. I don’t think I would judge anyone for celebrating, and I don’t think I would judge anyone for giving the 4th of July a miss this year. I keep being reminded that tomorrow is, first and foremost, a Patriotic holiday. That means it is a celebration for anyone who loves our country, who is thankful for America and what it stands for, for the ideals upon which we are founded. It is not a Jingoist holiday; that is, it is not for those who would celebrate our right, by virtue only of our nation of birth, to dominate or oppress others. It is not a Nationalist holiday; that is, it is not for those who would celebrate the supremacy of America and Americans over all other lands and people, for the creed of America is inherently inconsistent with Nationalism.
So, tomorrow I will be celebrating this wonderful nation along with my family and friends, because we love and are very thankful for our country. We will wave flags, we will wear our shirts, we will eat Freedom Fries and Hamburgers (Ameriburgers?). We will celebrate that ‘America is the only nation founded on a creed’, and that creed revolves around the equality of all men and their right to justice. We will remember that we are a nation of immigrants.
But if someone’s pride in America is of the sort that sees our primary duty in the world as promoting our own interests regardless of the suffering of others, or of seeing our own people- or a subset of our own people- as more inherently deserving of dignity and compassion, or if the phrase “they aren’t Americans” seems like a valid justification for acts of cruelty or inhumane usage… Might I recommend that they stay home and watch TV instead? Because the 4th of July is the celebration of the fact that “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” If that isn’t an idea that your conceptualization of American can get behind, then this probably just isn’t the holiday for you.
And yes, I realize that would mean it would be a quiet 4th of July at the White House.