July 4th became my favorite holiday in 1981, replacing Christmas. Maybe it was a sign of my maturity.
It was also a sign of the times. After a ten-year hiatus, patriotism was chic again, thanks to Ronald Reagan. Here’s a few other things that made me fall in love with Independence Day:
* Fireworks—who doesn’t love blowing stuff up? * Parties * VP Fair (tragically renamed to Fair St. Louis) * Girls in bikinis * Beer * Girls in bikinis * and no gift-giving
That’s right, no gifts. By seventeen, I was already tiring of the glut of gift-giving holidays and all the burdens and guilt associated with them.
But The Fourth of July was freedom day. Freedom and liberty and redwhiteandblue everywhere you looked.
This year, America has no freedom to celebrate—Americans, no independence. Home of the free? Hardly. Canada is freer than than the USA. The government in Washington spies on our farmers with drones. You call that free? The government in Washington now decides which doctors you see and whether you’re worth treating. Free my ass.
Nor is America, really, the home of the brave. Brave peoples drive out cowards like John Roberts; they don’t elevate the rats to Supreme Court Chief Justice. Sometime between 1981 and 2012, we lost much our national spine. We learned to fear everything from terrorism to weather to winning. We became immune to glory and its associated risk.
We bartered away our freedom to experts in Washington. We gave away the most precious gift God and God’s nature granted us: sovereignty over our own lives. If we are born kings of a nation of one, as Locke said, then we have voluntarily climbed the stairs of the Tower, shackled ourselves to the cold, stone deck, and asked only that someone feed us gruel and bread and provide a blanket and reality TV now and then.
Is every American a quivering blob of helpless fear? No. But somehow the Dr. Zachary Smiths of the world run the show now. I saw a few of the brave at Art Hill on Thursday, but their numbers are dwindling. Most Americans fit Tocqueville’s horrifying prophecy, circa 1838:
After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community.** It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd**. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
I can no more celebrate the realization of that prophecy than I could celebrate a suicide. I’m going to work on July 4th this year. No parades, no bottle rockets, no parties. I can find no reason to celebrate the independence of a people who gave it back.
[For the flag-ettiquette idiots out there (aka progressives), the ensign flown upside-down is a nautical distress signal]