Friday, July 6, 2007

Happy Birthday

To my country. A Canadian says it best:

Those of us who didn't grow up in America, but under the sway of America's media, imbibed a very pure form of the American mythos and civic religion. The American Civil Religion, with its secular saints such as Jefferson, Hamilton and Washington and its written Constitutional scripture is also a source of wonderment. Canada has no equivalent, no deep sense of history, no touchstone that is written back to to justify the present. Those words of your founders, those words that resound through history are words that inspire men and women who have never seen America and never will.

The Declaration of Independence spoke to all humans, with its assertion that all men are created equal and have unalienable rights. The US system of government, with its checks and balances, seemed unique and able to take shocks that might topple other democratic forms of government.

The Statue of Liberty, holding its torch aloft in New York's harbor, proclaimed that in America the wretched masses of the world might find a home, hope, liberty and opportunity.

And, of course, there was the US's role in both World War II and the Cold War. When Europe was in chains, America freed it. It may be true that the German army died in the plains of Russia, but without the US, all of Europe would have fallen into the gray pit of Russian rule and despair.

And then the Bush years happened. George Bush, with the acquiescence of Congress and the consent of the majority of voters, who elected him in 2004, made the US a unilateral actor on the world stage, a country that engaged in pre-emptive war and threatens to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. A nation, moreover, which has repudiated the freedoms that the rest of the world admired it for, has engaged in torture, struck down habeas corpus and openly mocked the Geneva Conventions.

America had become, in the eyes of the world, un-American.

The America we loved - the America which, if it did not always match words to ideals, still seemed to move more in jerks and starts towards those ideals, died, choking, gasping, in front of our very eyes.

What is so sad about this, to me, is that if America had lived up to its own ideals, America would be safer.
An American blogger is more bleak:
No matter how we the people want to be governed or how we decide we want our country to look, Bush sticks stubbornly to what he wants, to what he mandates and what he decides in his delusional world of absolute power and authority over all he surveys.

It's a bitter irony that what we celebrate today is deliverance from just such an absolute power and authority in the form of King George III, about whom the Founding Fathers railed in the majority of the Declaration of Independence and from whom they declared our freedom. We broke away from the colonial rule of a tyrant and, in the preamble to this sacred document, we stated that our leaders are ultimately governed by those for which government is created and that those elected president get "their just powers from the consent of the governed."
His administration has also found a way to diminish a great holiday like our Independence Day, to make us feel less like proudly waving our flag and to even cause many like me, who have worn our country's uniform, to wonder what the hell it was for.

And, for that, every American who voted for Bush, should take time this July Fourth to perform a truly patriotic act and be profoundly ashamed.