Thumbs Down on the Fourth of July

Anthony Gregory has a great  post up on TLS today, Should We Celebrate the American Revolution?, which exposes many myths about the “libertarian” nature of Independence Day and the Revolutionary War. (See also Jeff Tucker and Doug French’s column today, The Birth of Sedition.) I previously expressed skepticism of Constitution Day (Black Armbands for “Constitution Day”). Likewise, it’s problematic “Independence Day” is upheld as some sort of libertarian event.

Doing some random wikipedia searching about the Statue of “Liberty,” I came across a great quote, from 1886, by an African American newspaper, scoffing at the dedication of the Statue of Liberty (official name: Liberty Enlightening the World) and at the idea that America was a some free country and beacon of liberty. These thoughts express basically how I feel about the 4th of July, celebrations of the Constitution, American “independence,” and America’s “birthday” (note: by calling July 4–the date the US government may be said to have emerged–the country’s birthday, a subtle equation is made between country and state; which is why today yahoos say you are “unpatriotic” or “you hate your country” if you don’t “respect the flag” or don’t send your kids off to the military meat grinder to fight in its savage wars, etc.):

Shortly after the dedication, the Cleveland Gazette, an African American newspaper, suggested that the statue’s torch not be lit until the United States became a free nation “in reality”:

“Liberty enlightening the world,” indeed! The expression makes us sick. This government is a howling farce. It can not or rather does not protect its citizens within its own borders. Shove the Bartholdi statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the “liberty” of this country is such as to make it possible for an inoffensive and industrious colored man to earn a respectable living for himself and family, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged, and his property destroyed. The idea of the “liberty” of this country “enlightening the world,” or even Patagonia, is ridiculous in the extreme.

They had a good point. I’m so sick of libertarians upholding America or its Founding slaveholding “Fathers” or the Declaration or the abominable Constitution (the word is rightly used as a swear word in L. Neil Smith’s The Probability Broach or Gallatin Divergence, as I recall, as in “Constitution! I just hit my thumb with a hammer!”). Today will see countless American yahoos, the products of government schools, cheering on our “freedom” by singing Lee Greenwood songs and crying when they put their hands over their hearts to worship Old Glory, in violation of the First Commandment.

All these state-sanctioned state-worshiping “patriotic” holidays only serve to equate country with state and to glorify the state and its statism1 and wars. I’ll watch fireworks with my kid tonight, but tell him to enjoy the lights and chemical reactions, not what the state wants it to signify.

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  1. See Re: War and Civil Liberties Under Obama

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  • Clearly you need to go to a re-education camp, traitor.

  • Gary North has written a large body of material addressing the nature of the American Revolution. All of it enlightening and none of it upholding the ideas that the revolution was done for the sacrosanct reasons found in high school/college textbooks. The founding fathers were not libertarians.