Founding Father John Adams thought that July 2, the day the Second Continental Congress of the 13 colonies voted to split from Britain, should be celebrated as “the day of deliverance...with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other…”
He was two days off. July 4 is the day people toss hot dogs and burgers onto the grill, wave the old stars and stripes and explode fireworks, since it was the day that the Congress finally approved the Declaration of Independence.
I won’t be celebrating anything.
I don’t believe in America.
I don’t believe in a country that started out by decimating the native populations of this land (unintentionally through disease and intentionally through outright slaughter and Small Pox-contaminated blankets) and subjugating another group of people by bringing them from Africa to work in the fields down South.
I don’t believe in a land that declared itself a democracy yet at its inception denied the vote to Native Peoples, Blacks, women and non-land owning white folks. A nation supposedly founded on the principle that “all men are created equal,” yet it had to be torn asunder in a bloody civil war in order to free the slaves.
I don’t believe in a nation of immigrants that has treated every successive generation of “huddled masses yearning to be free” (no matter where they originated) with racism, violence, and anti-immigrant laws and policies. The sign on the State of Liberty should be changed to: “Welcome to America, now go the hell home.”
I don’t believe in a land where workers were exploited to the max, being forced to work long hours for little pay; where the children of immigrants went not to school but to the local sweat shop every day; and where those who built this country were met with police clubs and suspicion of being enemies of the state when they organized to better their condition (for instance, with a 40-hour work week).
I don’t believe in a country that shipped Japanese Americans off to internment camps and incarcerated and relocated thousands of Italian Americans, simply because they were perceived to be enemy aliens. And don’t forget: “Don’t speak the enemy tongue.”
I don’t believe in a nation where the right to free speech and assembly is supposedly sacrosanct, yet every movement for social and/or economic justice in this country has been spied on by local police and the FBI (and now Homeland Security) and treated as if they were doing something wrong in questioning the status quo or advocating for the rights of the disenfranchised. I wonder how many pages Homeland Security has on my political activities?
I don’t believe in a land that spends trillions on wars for profit in countries with huge supplies of oil, while allowing millions to go homeless, hungry, without jobs or without healthcare.
I don’t believe in an America where the disparity between the haves and have-nots has never been greater and where the poor and homeless are made into criminals via Sit/Lie, anti-panhandling and other inhumane laws. Where the Republicans are controlled by looney, right-wing Christians who consider abortion murder and capital punishment justice, and the Democrats are spineless and ineffective, especially when it comes to social and economic justice fights such as universal healthcare. Where banks can get away with stealing millions of people’s homes through foreclosure and eviction and nothing is done to stop them, and where the rich can evade taxes, ship jobs overseas and control what we see and hear in the media, which they own.
I’ll skip the fireworks, thank you.