Ed.: 070417 – Words: 914 – Audio: 09:06
This is the season of patriotism as we celebrate the 241st year of American independence. Blog people will typically make a 4th of July post to fit the occasion, especially political blogsters, like myself. The national celebration encompasses a wide range of “patriotic” assignment, such as remembering soldiers who have fallen to preserve our independence, re-newing our individual commitment toward what the flag represents, and reflect on our American pride, traditions, and prestige in the world.
But… there are other holidays/celebratory days where we also hold that reflection. Veterans Day to remember those that gave their lives for our freedoms; Flag Day to remember the symbolism of our flag; and other days in the year set aside to remember American achievement and tradition. I tend to think that we should not blur the celebration of the 4th of July with peripheral reflection. The 4th of July is the day we assign to celebrate the signing and presentation to the world our Declaration of Independence. History will show that the exact dates of signing, dates the document was prepared, dates it was actually read by the King… how many copies were made… are all different and make great tidbits of knowledge… but nonetheless, the 4th is the day we assign to celebrate the document being presented to the world, accurate or not.
The War itself.. the War for Independence, essentially a rebellion up to that point, had already started nearly a year before with the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord. So it is not a document that set the country off to war… but rather a document proclaiming a measure of unity toward the war, and expanding the war, among the signatories, state representatives to the Second Continental Congress, gentlemen of power and influence in their day. It was a document that created cause and focus for what was to come. It was a supremely ballsy move… even by today’s standards. It made the signatories immediate enemies of the Crown and subject to death. That’s a helluva commitment in any time. But it also defined for the first time… patriotism toward a cause.
The book definition of patriotism is.. ” …a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
You will note the definition says… “a person who supports their country”; it does not say, “a rebel against their country”. Which brings the adage, there is a fine line between rebel (or terrorist) and patriot. To King George the colonists were absolutely rebels and to outsiders in the day the colonists were indeed “rebelling” against British authority. In fact, one could assign, based on definition, that loyal colonists, and representatives of British authority within the colonies, were patriots in their own right; supporting England.
But the Declaration set aside the idea that the rebellion was just a bunch of rag-tag pissed off farmers with pitchforks who will return to their homes in time for the harvest. The document provided a unified cause for continuing the conflict in placing British authority, King George, on notice. At that point the rebel colonists became patriots for a cause and not rebels without a cause.
I think it’s important, especially these days, to make these seemingly semantic definitions because patriotism has become very loosely defined in American culture, to the point where it’s become a political identifier to further divide and polarize political thought. This particular 4th finds the nation embroiled in political turmoil and division, within the nontraditional chaos, crisis, and controversy surrounding the current President and his administration. The growing discontent over the President and the growing hostility between his supporters and those in dissension is also a growing concern.
Right wing conservatism, typically a nationalist movement, has found a home using patriotism as a battle cry. It’s as if conservatism exists for two things alone… making every issue a patriotic fight to protect the country, and to establish Christianity as THE religion of control.. and that tolerance for other religions exists as some benevolent right rather than an inalienable (or unalienable.. both are accepted) right. In fact, right wing conservatives have no more “ownership” or license of the use of “patriotism” any more or less than any other American citizen. I consider myself equally as patriotic as President Trump or the guy sitting at home dressed in camo, dry firing his AK-47 into the TV set. You swear allegiance to this country then you can be its patriot. But don’t suggest to me one bit that conservatives are some Knights Templar wannabes selected to defend the “holy grail” Constitution. That’s MY job.. as it is the job of 350 million other U.S. citizens.
Don’t quote the Founding Fathers, don’t presume you understand the Founding Fathers, and most certainly don’t try and interpret the Founding Fathers. They were a different time, different political climate, different lifestyle, different morality, and different ideals. What they passed on the rest of us at the risk of life and limb was an IDEA for governing… not a mantra for dissension. They were the power brokers of their day; the rich guys, the elite establishment of their day, and they were educated. All the elements that make up what right wing conservatives dislike about contemporary America.
You know what? I celebrate American independence each and every day I make a post on this blog. I also celebrate ALL the amendments… not just the Second.
Let’s have a patriotic day… everyday.
Carry On, America!