As I sit here watching the Capitol Fourth on PBS, I find myself reflecting on the same things I reflect on each Independence Day. This show has a tendency to remind me of all of the ways that my country and fellow citizens disappoint me. I know it is reasonable for the propaganda machine to go full force on the one national holiday, and that doesn't so much bother me - after all, many of the claims in your average patriotic song were at least nominally true at one point. But the patriotic music and the reminders of our nation's history just bring to mind our current shortcomings.
We talk about our soldiers "fighting for freedom", but the reality is our soldiers fighting overseas are fighting for corporate profits for companies like Lockheed, Boeing, and Raytheon. The people fighting against us in the Middle East are fighting for their own freedom against a foreign imperial government, every bit as much as George Washington fought against the British over two hundred years ago. We may not agree with their ideals, but it's disingenuous to claim we're fighting for "freedom", since they pose no threat to us, and if one group is subjugating another, when we're done with them, it'll be the same, just the other way around. The only benefit is in the military contractors who profit from all the war and destruction.
They did a nice little montage of "This Land is Your Land", and another included Miss Piggy dressed as the Statue of Liberty. You may recall the inscription on the statue: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door." I'm embarrassed at the way Americans treat immigrants and all people who want to come here to make a better life for themselves - you sneer at fifteen people living in a small townhouse, who work as day laborers for three dollars an hour, but you have no idea what they came from - huts made of scrap metal and no indoor plumbing. They aren't parasites looking for a handout. They are willing to work hard, to do things that are "beneath" your average self-entitled American, and do it for next to no pay... and then send half of that pay back to their families who couldn't escape the squalor that they were lucky enough to be able to. Americans waste enough food to feed every hungry person on the planet. But Americans scream about "illegals" taking their jobs and lowering wages. They want to build fences, and have mass deportations. The reality is that having people treated as "illegal" opens them up to victimization, since they can't go to the police for protection without fear of deportations - but they certainly pay taxes and allow you to enjoy the low prices you pay for many services. But they don't get any of the basic protections that any human should enjoy. Where would you be, if your family hadn't been welcomed here, or at least tolerated long enough to become safely established?
I love my country - there's no place on Earth that is founded on the liberties that America was founded on. It's just sad that so many people have forgotten where we came from. Peace, equality, tolerance, and opportunities for everyone. Not warmongering, corruption, and hatred. Happy Independence Day.
—Brian (7/5/2014 12:14 AM)
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