Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Reflections on the "Land of the Free" (it is not) on July 3.

   John Adams wrote that July 2 would go down in history as the day this country declared its independence from England. A different date appears on the formal document that memorializes the "birth" of this country. Of course, there are other minor errors in modern knowledge about the initial events that gave start to what became the United States of America. Our country was born in irony or paradox, but perhaps hypocrisy would be as good an adjective.

   All men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, amongst these being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...

   For starts, the "overthrow" of the British occurred on North American soil in Massachusetts in 1774. There were rumblings in the intervening two years. For another, Paul Revere did not make his historic ride. He was stopped by British soldiers. Samuel Adams is remembered as a firebrand who whipped up colonists against the British king. Again, this is a bit "off." Samuel---only later, and after his death, were references made to "Sam" Adams---for the most part counseled against "independency." He did not like to drink and put his father's brewery into bankruptcy. (Never trust a thin cook and never trust, to run a brewery, a tee-totaller.) The Boston Tea Party, of which many today are so proud, was an occurrence of which many were embarrassed at the time it occurred. Drunken vandals dumped cargo into Boston Harbor. 

   The "revolution" was a rebellion. There was no overall change of the social structure. Many of the same upper-class, white males still held positions of power similar to those the same men held prior to the outbreak of hostilities. (The Who probably had it right when they sang "here with the new boss/same as the old boss" in "Won't Get Fooled Again.") The same economic system, patched together as it was, operated. Northern states, fairly quickly, abandoned the institution of slavery, but not out of higher moral principles. They simply did not have such things as plantations on which slaves could work to the owners' profit. Southerners, on the other hand, clung to that evil institution.

   The Constitution was drafted and the new Nation was on its way.

   There is the huge paradox/hypocrisy. The institution of slavery was allowed to exist. Another paradox/irony is that even when slavery formally was abolished in all States shortly after the Civil War (and in Mississippi with its passage of the Thirteenth Amendment earlier this year), women would not receive the right to vote or recognize other aspects of equality and "freedom" until the early 20th Century.

   There were some 60 offenses for which the penalty was death. Blasphemy---"irreverence toward a religious icon or something considered sacred---was a crime for which, in some instances, the guilty party's tongue would be bored out. The First Amendment was a nice sentiment, except when free speech and assembly, for examples, were inconvenient. When people demonstrated against the Civil "War"---and I use quotation marks only to distinguish that conflagration from wars waged under the Constitutional provisions for declaration of "war"; President Lincoln wanted to make clear that the leaders of the Southern States had, through secession, committed treason and therefore were outside some of the niceties of formal war (although bodies blown apart by lead still are bodies blown apart by lead)---and World War I, they were arrested. When free speech holds no threat of actual change, people are free to talk all they want.

    Today, here in the "land of the free," we have such a large population of prison inmates that we account for 25% of the World's total with only Five percent (5%) of the World's population. That means we have more people in prison than North Korea and China. Our telephones and internet messages are monitored. We are searched and shaken down by uniformed officials when we board aircraft---unless you're wealthy enough to own a private airplane, in which case there are no metal detectors at a private flying service---or enter certain public buildings. Informally? Try to remain seated when, at the start of a sports event, everyone is asked to stand and remove their hats as someone sings the English drinking song to which Francis Scott Key adapted lyrics that became "The Star Spangled Banner." We have satellites that can zero in on our backyard cookouts (we'll have ribs) and mini-drones that soon will buzz around wherever and whenever some kid at a console in wherever it is such things are controlled and monitored decides to buzz by. Did you think that was a hummingbird? Think again.

   I know what someone is about to say or think: Don't like it here? Love it or leave it! That person has a right to her or his opinion. This is, after all, the "land of the free." "Love it or leave it"? I say---change itr or lose it. Don't get all syrupy about the stories handed down to us about our early history. Stand up and try to change things. Object to what has happened. Write---as in hand-write---letters to people in Congress. Bitch about what goes on. Read. Listen. 

    There are other countries whose citizens enjoy far more freedom than the citizens of this country. Of course, if they try to brag about that, we might just pull up in one of our aircraft carriers and blow their sorry asses away. Hey, bub! You can't blaspheme against the United States! We are the land of the free! And if you don't believe it, we'll wipe you out!

    I hope everyone has a happy---and safe---Fourth of July.

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