July 3, 2011

The 4th of July

This has never been my favorite holiday. Maybe it was my dislike of large group picnics. I don't know. I know I have enjoyed some individual 4ths, but not all of them. Maybe it is because the dogs never enjoy the noise.

I remember the first summer we had Streak. Anglican's apartment had a great view of the fireworks, so we all went down there to watch, and I brought this little dog who had adopted us. He was so scared. He spent the entire fireworks with his head under my arm. Damn I miss him. I am watching my thumbnail grow out with a little sadness. He bit me during a treatment and the mark is just about gone. That has been a pretty steady reminder, though I know I don't need that to remember him. But it is still sad.

We have tried to rehabilitate this weekend, mostly by trying to spend it with friends. Last night we had a couple over and tonight we head to more friends. That will be good.

I think I have always struggled with the patriotism part. I get loving your country. I just am not sure what to think about people loving it in such an angry and hateful way. I read this week about a congressman from Georgia who said that he would do anything "short of shooting them" when he saw illegal immigrants. I suspect he sees himself as an uber patriot. As do most conservatives.

Yet, it makes me feel a little ill. And the conservative war on people continues. Minnesota has shut down state offices (non essential) primarily because Republicans refuse to raise taxes on anyone. That makes no sense to me, but those Republicans will tell me that they believe in freedom and that they are patriots.

And I read that across the country, not only are women seeing abortion outlawed, but states are starting to criminalize any kind of miscarriage. I get the opposition to abortion, but this is going a step beyond. And what amazes me about this kind of law, is that I am pretty sure that the upper middle class white wife will not have her miscarriage questioned. I am pretty confident of that. If that is small-government, then I have to just throw up my hands. That is fascism. That is what a totalitarian state does--not one that preaches freedom.

I do love this country. I refuse to wave a flag and won't put one up on the house. But I have deep respect for our country's history and actual freedoms. I still consider our constitution a brilliant document. I believe our system is amazing, and one way it has proven that is how much expansion and access we have added since the original document. I believe in what Herbert Croly called "the promise of American life." But I don't see it in conservative thought today. All I see is hate and bigotry and stupidity.

We can do better. On this 4th, I will remember my friend Streak, and I will think of all my friends and family around the country and here in town. I will think of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for us, and for those others who have stood up for the least of these here at home.


leighton said...

I've been spared that difficulty this year by being on a Thursday - Monday schedule where we don't get holidays off. But it does seem like any adult form of patriotism will be more about what you do than what you say. Men who wave the flag and persecute people who do things they themselves couldn't possibly do (e.g. be gay, be pregnant, be present in the country without permission from Department of State) are about as mature, and as ethical, as a De Beers advertiser insisting you don't really love your wife because you don't buy her diamonds on every special occasion. It's ridiculous, it's untrue and it's obscene.

Bob said...

"I refuse to wave a flag and won't put one up on the house. But I have deep respect for our country's history and actual freedoms. I still consider our constitution a brilliant document."

To me the flag is a symbol of the constitution, what it is and what it can be. It is not to be flown to make me look better, or promote a religious or political agenda. We shouldn't be pledging allegiance to it, or making laws to protect it from harm.

I have always been a flag waver, but the conservative flag wavers have taken that joy away from me a bit. On my porch I have an American flag and below it an Ethiopian flag commemorating my son’s birthplace. I had not flown the flag for some time until my son came home.

This year the 4th was kind of cool because my son obtained his certificate of citizenship about a week ago. It was nice to mark the occasion with his first fireworks show.