Oh, the Places I’ve Gone!
When I was a kid, I loved the Fourth of July: Independence Day! Admittedly, part of it was because they showed 1776 on television that day every year and I loved musicals. But I was also super patriotic because I totally bought all the lies my teachers had told me about this great nation.
Now it is just a night filled with loud noises and ignorant people.
One Nation, Built on Racism
Things really changed for me just a few years ago when I read The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.
I really should have known, of course. Historians have been writing for a long time about the fact that the primary push for the southern colonies to enter the Revolutionary War was their fear that England was going to take their slaves away.
Now I understand: for about 30 percent of the modern US population, that sounds like a damned good reason to start a war. In fact, all those people clamoring about “states’ rights” only really care about them in so far as it will allow them to bring back Jim Crow if not outright slavery. It certainly isn’t a concept they believe in when California wants to maintain high pollution-control standards.
Yes, I’m calling 30 percent of the nation bigots.
And the Racists…
The rest of us are just racists — regardless of color. That’s just what happens when you grow up in a racist society. The best of us fight it, but it’s still there — poisoning us.
As Jesse Jackson said, “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps… then turn around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”
I feel the same way when I involuntarily tense up when a young black man gets on the bus. I disgust myself.
And the Liars…
There are, of course, people who claim not to have a racist bone in their bodies. They were wonderfully satirized by Stephen Colbert. I suppose some of them are just clueless racists. But mostly, I think they are lying bigots.
If you can’t admit to your faults, you have no hope of fixing them — or even becoming slightly less vile.
Revolution: What Is It Good For?!
Ultimately, the American Revolution was good for the white men that were already doing well. For everyone else — and that includes poor white men — the war didn’t improve their lives. And made the lives of millions to come far worse.
It’s Not Just About Racism
Dylan Matthews makes pretty much the same argument that I just made, but better because he didn’t spend the day writing and editing a mammoth article on Unix shells, Three Reasons the American Revolution Was a Mistake.
In the article, he also addresses the treatment of the first Americans. They would have been treated badly regardless — as they were in Canada. But it’s most likely that there wouldn’t have been a genocide committed against them over decades.
If you want to get a good idea of how badly we treated the first Americans, you should check out the ignorant and racist comments to my article Ayn Rand and Indians. I don’t want to get into it here. I’ve written a lot about this subject in the past.
Matthews third reason for why we would have been better off not separating from England is that we would now have a much more stable system of government: a parliamentary system. I’ve also written a lot about this, so I’m not going to dive into it.
You should really just go read Matthews’ fine article. I agree with it point by point.
The Bottom Line
Tomorrow, when I wake up, I will put the flag out. I don’t especially like to because I don’t like the way that people see the flag. I have traditionally seen it as aspirational. Right now, I see it as pictured above: the zombie apocalypse has happened; they’ve destroyed what’s good about us and now they’re hungry for our best aspirations.
But even if we fight them back, our vile and partisan Supreme Court will do all it can to bring the end. Because they crave brains too.
Happy “Independence” Day!