A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Another Trip Into the Archives: Fourth of July 2008*

Today we mark another anniversary of this continuing experiment in democracy called the United States of America.  It is an anniversary celebrated with parades, fireworks, backyard barbecues and lots of pats on the back about what a great country this is.  We should all agree on this point: America is a great country, but we must nevertheless acknowledge that we as human beings fall short of its ideals on many occasions.

Chris Satullo, a newspaper columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, recently suggested that we put our fireworks away and forego all the picnics for a moment of atonement .**  He reminded his readers about all the less than ideal incidences which have occurred in America’s name in recent years.  Satullo mentioned the abuse of prisoners at Abu Gharib and the detainees at Guantanamo held without due process as two examples for which we should be ashamed.  

Naturally, readers exercised their First Amendment rights and responded quickly.  The Inquirer only printed two letters – one pro and one con – but I imagine they received many more than this and I’ll bet more than a few of those called Satullo every un-American name in the book.  I feel sorry for these people who feel that America is great, but also believe it is not strong enough to withstand constructive criticism.

These are probably the same people that believe wearing a flag pin makes a person patriotic.   If only patriotism were that easy.  They forget patriotism is not a show, but is a deep felt faith in their country’s ideals.   America has wonderful ideals to uphold: liberty, justice for all, and peace and tranquility in an environment in which each of us can pursue our own happiness, among others.  

Some Americans see that these ideals have been soiled by the current administrations actions during the last seven years.  Other Americans would say that that last sentence is heresy and that I am un-American for even doubting our government’s wisdom.  So be it.  I would argue that Americans can criticize their country and still love it in the same way that an adult can love their own children and correct them to be better human beings.  Yet, we should denounce these adults as anti-children?  I don’t follow this logic at all.

Once again, we must separate criticism of the government‘s policies from the cherished virtues of the country.  Many people don’t want to do this and use their patriotism as a blindfold to the acts committed in our name.  It’s as if we capitulate our rights to question our own leaders and say, “Go ahead, do what you want to do to other people.  Just leave us get our morning coffee, fight the traffic to our jobs, and let us get home in time to see the latest reality show on television.”  Our leaders count on this apathy to justify their own selfish policies, even as they tell us they’re doing it for our own good.

I would not go as far as Satullo suggested as to give up our celebrations, but I do agree that we could take a moment to reflect on what our country has done and which direction it should take next.  This is our right…to think, to criticize, and to act.  We are after all Americans, engaged in this great experiment of democracy, working “to form a more perfect union.” 

*Originally published on this date in 2008.   The references are a bit dated,  but I think we need to be reminded of what America can achieve,  despite the efforts of the current regime to do otherwise.

**”A Not-So-Glorious Fourth”, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 1, 2008.


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