Progressive Writers Bloc

Fourth of July

By Merrily Davies

The Fourth of July gives rise to thoughts, patriotic and poetic. I love America for the goodness, creativity, confidence, independence and genius of her people. I love America for the boundless energy and diversity of her cosmopolitan cities. I love America for the vast, incredible beauty of so much of her landscape. I love the freedoms that many Americans take for granted, and the documents that keep us free. We have so much, and Americans for the most part, are supremely blessed. So, the contrast of what follows in this article disturbs me deeply.

I am ashamed that throughout the world we are perceived as bullies and aggressors. Our "to hell with the rest of the world" foreign policy puts the world's population including Americans at terrible risk. Our president after 9/11 asked, "Why do they hate us? We're good." He obviously intended the question to be rhetorical, but it is a question we all should be asking…reflectively.

I am ashamed that a substantial answer was not even attempted by the press, and we allowed ourselves to be pacified and placated by homilies from an ignorant president. They don't hate us "for who we are." They don't hate us because they "envy us our freedoms." They hate us for what we have done to them.

I am ashamed that the real reason we are in Afghanistan is to gain a foothold in that region for the oil reserves that grace the country to its north, as well as to gain control of Afghanistan's drug trade that facilitates the machinations of Wall Street.

I am ashamed that U.S. citizens bought into the lie, told by the administration and perpetuated by our press: that we went to war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that we sold to them and that had already been destroyed during U.N. inspections. It was clear from the outset that the evidence didn't hold water. It was clear all along that it was really about oil and political and economic domination. I am ashamed that we have killed many times the people in a war based on lies than were killed in the World Trade Center, an event that had nothing to do with Iraq, but everything to do with the lies about Iraq.

I am ashamed that the Bush Administration has withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the first time in history that the U.S. has reneged on a major international arms control agreement. I am ashamed that there was no national outrage.

I am ashamed of the part the U.S. played in the overthrow of Aristide, the democratically elected president of Haiti, in order to facilitate control of oil shipment routes between the U.S. and Venezuela, with complete disregard for the lives and well being of the people of this poor country.

I am ashamed of the decades-long embargo we have enforced against the small nation of Cuba to starve it out of existence. Does our foreign policy really require an embargo of this itty bitty, absolutely insignificant, economic gnat? Is it because a government is oppressive that they get this kind of treatment from American policy? Not really. We have supported hundreds of dictators around the world, regardless of what they did to their own people, as long as they provided conditions for cheap labor, or sold us their resources at bargain basement prices. I am ashamed that there is no national outrage.

But, I truly love America and the documents that aspire to keep us free. I wish we would direct our pledge of allegiance to the Bill of Rights instead of to such an easily manipulated symbol as the flag. I am proud and grateful to have the right to voice my own feelings and opinions. I may not be "with" this adiminstration, but that does not make me "with" the terrorists. Anyone who holds that dissent is unpatriotic obviously doesn't understand what America is about.

The Constitution was drafted by elites. The Bill of Rights was the demand of the People as a precondition for accepting the Constitution. In the Bill of Rights our most precious freedoms were put right up front in the First Ammendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." These are all about the freedom to be who we are, and to express who we are without interference. A government that empowers and is responsive to its own people is a government whose wrongs can be righted.

But these are not just American rights. They are fundamental human rights. If we don't observe the rights of other human beings and nations to autonomy and self determination, Bin Laden's infamous words will become tragically prophetic, and not only America, but the whole world, will indeed become "a shadow of herself".

"America, America, God shed his grace on thee." May we, as Americans, endeavor to deserve our heritage.

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