Hi and welcome to the 2017 edition of the United States’ Independence Day!
First, I must congratulate all of the awesome fellow bloggers who are using the correct term in their Independence Day-themed posts! Independence Day in the US is not “the 4th of July” any more than Christmas Day is “the 25th of December” or US Thanksgiving is “the fourth Thursday of November”. So for that, I genuinely thank you. ❤
Today is a day of celebration in the US, even if the festivities have been watered down over the years, reduced to a cheap excuse to take a day off work, start fires with barbecue grills and fireworks, or have a mattress sale.
Independence Day didn’t quite used to be like that. Everybody trotted out the fireworks, yes, but the flags came with it. And so did a shred of patriotism.
Which leads me back around to what I wanted to write about today.
What is patriotism, anyway? What is a patriot?
Well hell, that depends on who you ask, and which time period you’re in.
These days, it’s sort of anybody’s guess, and there are a lot of hidden agendas involved.
If you ask the average US American, they’ll probably get the basic definition right: someone who loves and/or is devoted to their country.
Those of you paying attention might be starting to cringe right now, knowing that the plot quickly thickens and waters might get muddy.
Because devotion to one’s country is a loaded concept with sticky ramifications.
The original Founders of the USA considered themselves patriots–that is, they were devoted to the new nation, a branch of Great Britain’s tree that bloomed its own flowers and then planted roots of its own, becoming its own tree.
If you asked people in Great Britain in the 1770s whether or not the rebellious American colonists were patriots, you would have heard a much different story. They probably would have answered with an emphatic “hell no!” After all, the Founders were “traitors” to Mother England, supporting this “farce” of a country of their own. The Founders had bounties on their heads.
It’s all relative.
Relativity these days.
Relations with Great Britain sweetened again, and all was forgiven and forgotten. We still celebrate Independence Day, but it’s more along the vibe of the birth of the US, not animosity toward the UK. We’re smitten with Great Britain. And if you ask me, that’s not a bad thing. Far be it from me to hold a grudge. Especially one that’s 241 years old.
Let’s swing back to patriotism, though.
Today, although things have changed, things haven’t really changed. If you ask different people what patriotism means, you’ll still get different answers.
If you as a statist (a garden-variety Republican or Democrat who swallows the typical mainstream political spectrum), you might have different ideas about what it means to be patriotic or who a patriot is. You might think you’re a patriot for supporting your country as it is today.
But if you’re part of a militia group, you might think the statists are sheeple and that you’re the real patriot, because you stand for what you think the Founders stood for.
Am I a patriot only if I support the spirit of the original 13 Colonies and the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence and all that?
Or do I have to support everything the US has done since then, without question?
Can I pick and choose what I support and what I oppose, or does someone near the top have their index poised over an Independent Thought Alarm button, ready to send the hounds after me if I express any sort of dissent?
What if I like most of what the Founders had in mind (although slavery had to go, hands down, and gender equality had to happen, too), but can’t stand the fascism that permeates the US government and mainstream culture today?
Because I do think that many people near the top–the ones with the microphones and rule books–have sort of stolen the term “patriot” and co-opted it for their own use, assigning it an inappropriate meaning in a move that George Orwell would only define as “Newspeak”. Kinda like Doublethink, but in the printed word.
The most egregious example of this is the so-called “Patriot Act”.
In reality, the “Patriot” part of its name is an acronym: PATRIOT – “Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”.
And the powers granted to the government by this piece of–ahem–“legislation” are anything but truly patriotic. They don’t align with the spirit of anything the US was built to stand for. A few of the provisions include:
- The ability of the FBI to search telephone, e-mail, and financial records without a court order
- The expanded access of law enforcement agencies to business records, including library and financial records
- The access to voicemail through a search warrant rather than through a title III wiretap order
- The power of indefinite detention of any immigrant who the Attorney General believes may cause a terrorist act
That’s not exactly freedom, nor is it in line with what was intended to be the freest nation on earth.
And that’s only one example. Don’t get me started on how the US government has routinely (mis)treated Native Americans. Or the executive orders that have been signed by various US Presidents (those don’t exactly all make the news headlines).
Don’t get me wrong – I love what the United States originally stood for. I support the ideas of individual liberty and freedom.
But what has taken place since then is a gross misuse of power, akin to a nightmarish bait-and-switch. The classic novel by George Orwell (a name my iPhone refuses to learn–interesting) was intended to be a dire warning, not an instruction manual! And yet, that appears to be exactly what it has become.
The US is relatively unrecognizable these days.
So…would I be considered a patriot? Depends on who you ask. I support a free state, where intrusion is minimized and geared mostly toward the prevention of the loss of freedom.
I can’t, however, support this modern incarnation of fascist-patriotism, where people were encouraged to “buy stuff, because it’s patriotic to support the (national, global megaconglomerate) economy!”, or scorned because I was “unpatriotic” because I “fail to support a new piece of (overreaching, intrusive) legislation!”
So I might light off some fireworks or something, and celebrate what the US could be if it weren’t run by statists who want to use government powers to advance their various agendas (and believe me, both sides do it). But I will celebrate the ideals our Founders had in mind, except that I do like Great Britain, and I would extend those ideals and liberties to all individual members of the various currently-marginalized groups, not just the exalted few (the ones with the microphones, printing presses, recognizable corporate logos, government contracts, residence in the ‘right’ ZIP code, and/or fat balance sheets).
In the end, I wish everyone a Happy Independence Day, for real. I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade, literal or figurative. I do celebrate freedom and liberty. I’m just wondering how much is left compared to what the Founders set up. 🙂
That is all, and nothing more. 🙂 ❤
Jack of all tirades ~ (this blog, 2009)
Why the ‘4th of July’ term is Orwellian and I’m boycotting it ~ (this blog, 2011)