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Happy Independence Day

The United States turns 230 years old today. And what a great, venerable country it is...but...

On a day like today, it's easy to get caught up in the festivities, the pageantry, and the flag-waving without thinking about the true history of this country. It's easy to be blinded by the great principles--freedom, liberty, equality, self-determination--which our revered Founding Fathers set forth, principles which they sadly never actually put into place when the country was established, as they reserved these inalienable rights strictly for men similar to themselves, leaving women as second-class citizens, blacks as slaves and Indians as "barbaric savages."

One of our greatest patriots, Frederick Douglass, denounced the Founding Fathers' unfulfilled promises in 1852, uttering the following:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

This is a great country, but one which could be so much greater. One of equality, of prosperity and opportunity for all, of the common good, of genuine morality, of peace. Not one of increasing divisiveness, selfishness, myopia, intolerance, greed, fear and combativeness. Enjoy your beer and barbecue today, but pause for a moment and think about how we can together make this a better country--better for every single one of us.

July 4, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink


Well said. Well said.

Posted by: Ron at Jul 4, 2006 10:07:59 PM