Friday, July 6, 2007

The Fourth of July

My heart wasn't in it this year. We had the annual parade and it seemed so commercial to me. It wasn't just realtors sponsoring floats for civic organizations. It was realtors sponsoring floats for realtors. The best thing as far as I was concerned was the middle school drum cadet corps, making a lot of glorious noise as they walked down the street.

What happened to the precision lawn chair brigade that I remember from my youth? Too many people handing out flyers for things, and I can't blame them. It's a free country, and what a great opportunity to get your message out to the community. But still...I had hoped the Fourth of July parade would be about something else. When they wrote about a land of opportunity, I didn't think that meant we should be opportunistic.

I was driving somewhere when I heard the soundbyte from President Bush's speech to the West Virginia Air National Guard, when he said that "Victory in this struggle will require more patience, more courage, and more sacrifice." And the tone of voice when he said that, so defensive and so condescending, I couldn't take it. Paul Krugman in the Times today asked what sacrifice Bush has made, and I can't agree more.

To get the exact quote, I read through Bush's speech. It's highly inflammatory and deeply offensive.

Here are some excerpts:
"We were a small band of freedom-loving patriots taking on the most powerful empire in the world." Who was this "we" Kemo Sabe? And do we not see any irony in the phrase "taking on the most powerful empire in the world"?

And then, "You're the successors of those brave men. Those who wear the uniform are the successors of those who dropped their pitchforks and picked up their muskets to fight for liberty. Like those early patriots, you're fighting a new and unprecedented war -- pledging your lives and honor to defend our freedom and way of life." Ah, now it's "You" not "we."

"We believe in an Almighty, we believe in the freedom for people to worship that Almighty. They don't. They don't believe you should worship the way you choose. They believe the only way you should worship is the way they choose. And, therefore -- and, therefore, they will do anything they can to spread that ideology. And it's our charge, it's our calling to keep the pressure on these people, to defend America and to spread an ideology of hope and an ideology of peace so that the kids who came up here to give the Pledge of Allegiance will be able to live in peace and security. (Applause.)" Again with the "we," but with the pernicious "they" attached. This monolithic "they"--and how exactly are they going to force us in the US to worship in the way "they" choose? I never heard that this was a war about freedom of worship; if that's so, then bring the troops home immediately. I feel perfectly free to worship the way I choose.

verse 2 of O beautiful for spacious skies comes to mind:

"O beautiful for heroes proved
in liberating strife,
who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control,
thy liberty in law."

Makes me want to weep.

No comments: