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Monday, July 8, 2019

How the Fourth of July was ruined as a patriotic holiday

Nike's Betsy Ross shoes withdrawn from sale

Tanks rumble in the Capitol

Donald Trump was so impressed by a military parade he saw in Paris that he wanted one with his name attached to it.  He appropriated the Fourth of July as an occasion for such a spectacle and he ordered that military hardware--jet fighters and tanks, etc.--be brought out to a party over which he would preside.  He ordered tanks, which caused logistics problems.  They are so heavy that they break down the roads on which they travel, so they have to be hauled on special trailers.  Even then, if one of the trailers happens to roll over a sidewalk while making a tight turn, it will crush the sidewalk.  The National Park Service had to divert $2.5 million that it collected in fees to maintain and upgrade its parks to help fund Trump's obsessive whim.  Cost estimates place the total at $92 million.  Most people, including Republicans such as former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele, see the occasion as about Trump, not the American Declaration of Independence.  Everything Trump does is a denial of the process which led to the Declaration of Independence.

Steele points out that the streets of Washington, D.C., are not built to withstand trampling  by heavy armor,  because we never were or intended to be a nation that needed displays of militaristic power.  President Eisenhower said that shows of military force were a sign of weakness, not a display of confidence in our democracy.    So, Trump took over the national day to recognize the birth of our independence and tried to make it a display of the military.  He gave a speech which an Ivy League professor likened to  an "angry grandpa reading a 5th graders' book report on American Military History."

The most memorable part of Trump's speech was this line about the Revolutionary War:  "Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare it had nothing but victory."  That reference to airports  130 years before there was one or any purpose in having one reduced the day into an absurdity.  It was much more than a gaffe.  While the White House defended it as a malfunction cause by Trump reading the speech off of a rain-obscured teleprompter, the fact is the words that were uttered, and if any mind were present at the speaking of those words, it would have made some effort to correct the absurdity.  It may be be the most apt expression of the state to which Trump and his pompous inanity has reduced the nation.  And it must be stressed that Trump has speech writers, so those incoherent words had some planning.

Another event involved Nike's plans to issue a shoe that featured the Betsy Ross flag.  The plan was canceled when Colin Kaepernick, a consultant for the company, told it that the "Betsy Ross flag had been co-opted by groups espousing racist ideologies."  Kaepernick has been accused of being anti-patriotic because he chose to kneel during the national anthem before football games to mourn the unarmed black men who had been shot down in the streets during an epidemic of police killings.  The withdrawal of the Betsy Ross shoes also inspired those who participate in the resurgent racism to condemn Nike and Kaepernick.

Trump and his supporters turned the Fourth into an occasion marked by the malice and the incoherence that marks the Trump regime.  The Fourth of July is no longer a celebration of the beginning of a nation devoted to freedom, equality, and justice, but is now a reminder of the malignant forces that want to possess America.  

1 comment:

larry kurtz said...

The reading of the Declaration of Independence by members of the reporting staff at NPR on the 4th of July gets me every time. Past on-air personalities, some now correspondents at the pearly gates, also read for this decades-old feature. The tears stream down my face right up to the line that begins:

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare…"

That’s when it hits me right between the eyes.

When those words were being written, thousands of cultures inhabited a continent that seemed to keep growing huge ripe plums just waiting for Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton and the rest to pick and pick and pick and pick. Already, the Chesapeake Bay estuary had been mostly denuded of native vegetation, not to mention of its former human inhabitants.

Slaves tilled the fields and built the infrastructure, the ancestors of the Lakota and other Siouan groups that had been forced westward out of North Carolina generations earlier, traded with the Spanish and French while forging their own alliances (and marriages) with other indigenous peoples.

It’s time for all Americans to enjoy the protection of law by being part of one nation: erase the artificial borders and grant Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to all the people of North America…Mexico, Central America, Canada, even the Caribbean if they’ll have us.

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