God-USA Cantata 

I agree with Hammer’s column about the USA’s confusion of jingoism with patriotism (Hammer, “Who or what gives us freedom?” July 2-9). It’s the same as the way appropriate flag display (Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth) has been replaced by the mass purchase of (Chinese-made) American flags to hang from houses, fences, cars, businesses, the seats of their pants, ad nauseam until they are rotted and shredded by the exposure. The Fourth of July has taken a change for the worse from its former glory as a day of, as he says, beer, picnics and appreciation for the good things of this country.

Much of it dates back to the Sept. 11 event, which cynical politicians have appropriated as an excuse for damn near everything. Small wonder that John Q Public actually believes it was the same as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Like the Japanese and the Godless Communists before them, the Heathen Terrorists now lurk under every bed and doormat, waiting for a chance to overthrow Our Christian Way of Life. It seems we must, whenever we get the chance, put on a show of might and right or they’ll murder us as we sleep. The Fourth is a great time to get together with like-minded people and do this in public.

An example: Since the Sept. 11 event, Symphony on the Prairie’s Fourth of July celebration has gone from being a fun musical evening with Civil War uniforms, kettle corn and the best fireworks in the area to a rather grim God ’n’ Gunz event. We all stand when they play the National Anthem. That’s fine, that’s appropriate. But later on, some guy sings that tiresomely nasal “God Bless the USA” thing and half of the audience leaps up again. They stand there with a look of strained self-consciousness, not unlike the face of a small child on the potty, and sit back down when the song ends. Later on, someone, not Kate Smith, alas, sings “God Bless America” and they do it again. “The Star Spangled Banner” has somehow been appropriated into some sort of God-USA Cantata.

Then we go home and every male between the ages of 10 and 50 is out in his (or someone’s) back yard igniting things that boom, whistle, pop and bang, upsetting every non-human animal in hearing distance until 2 p.m., and the emergency room personnel must be exhausted at the end of it all. Then everyone does it all the next year. Hurrah.


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