04 July 2015

America -- becoming who we are

Independence Day can be a less-than-edifying time for the genuine patriot.  As with most holidays, it's been gradually transformed into a pretext for mall sales and parties, with hardly a word ever spoken about its true meaning.  The American flag is much in evidence, vulgarized in the form of pennants and balloons calling attention to the fireworks tents that have sprung up in seemingly every supermarket parking lot.  Some people don't even know the reason for the holiday.

But the fact is, there's a lot to celebrate on this 239th anniversary.  Consider the extension of equal marriage rights to gay people coast-to-coast, the upholding of ACA subsidies that allowed millions to keep health insurance they would otherwise have lost, and the long-overdue turn against the Confederate flag which has flown as an insulting symbol of racism and willful twisting of history for decades.

A few other less-noted rulings also deserve mention.  Arizona's independent commission to draw Congressional districts was upheld against Republican efforts to bring redistricting back under political control -- a rebuff to the gerrymandering which has given them a House majority despite their candidates receiving fewer votes than ours overall.  New Texas rules which would have closed more than half the abortion clinics in that state have been blocked, at least temporarily.  And Oklahoma's state supreme court ordered the removal of a Ten Commandments monument which has long stood at the state capitol in flagrant defiance of the First Amendment.

In the space of about a week, our country took half-a-dozen steps of varying kinds in the direction of delivering on its promise -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for everyone.  We're not there yet, and the march ahead will continue to face determined opposition -- but we are much further along now than we were in the middle of June.  All Americans, especially those who have contributed to the fight in their own varied ways, should take pride in this.

Image at top:  Artist Bree Newsome climbing the flagpole at the South Carolina capitol to tear that Confederate flag down has emerged as the iconic image of a week like no other.  Her act and subsequent arrest perfectly exemplify the vital young future asserting itself against the dead hand of a fading and uncomprehending past.

3 Comments:

Blogger Woody said...

Indeed, there are episodes in my country's past for which most of us feel no pride.
There are historical events (as in America) for which the true facts of the time are not just retold in a kinder light, but which continue to almost ignore all findings to the contrary. If I compare my country to others, I can find a lot to smile about. If I examine the facts as they are with no comparison to others, I can still find smiles but also with a sober nod to a hopeful future.

04 July, 2015 03:08  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Happy 4th to you.

What makes America exceptional is its Constitution, even if the SCOTUS at times doesn't get it right [Dred Scott, Citizens United, gutting of the Voting Rights Act, for examples]. And although the Declaration of Independence was a remarkable document, we must remember who was left out of the proclamation that "all men are created equal..."

But the past week clearly showed that that slowly but inevitably the arc of the moral universe does bend toward justice and inclusion.



04 July, 2015 12:37  
Anonymous Bacopa said...

I have to say something here because I had ancestors who fought under the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. Yes! What you think of as the Confederate Flag was not an official flag of the CSA. Most military units flew other flags or the Bonny Blue Flag.

The St Andrew's cross with stars flag became a flag of white supremacy when the KKK adopted it in the late 1890's. It was only put onto the SC and other capitol grounds in the early 1960's as an assertion of official white supremacy.

So what do I think as a dude who is actually descended from a person who fought under the ANV Battle Flag? Burn that flag. Destroy it everywhere.

04 July, 2015 14:14  

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