And some of those who made it great
It’s the Fourth of July again, that time when we break out the fireworks and celebrate the Declaration of Independence, that document written 227 years ago by a bunch of rich white guys who would have labeled myself and my family peasants.
Hats off to the Founding Fathers, who interpreted the Constitution to mean that it’s OK to own slaves, murder Indians and treat women as the property of their men. I’ve never understood why we pay so much homage and importance to the so-called Founding Fathers. We even speculate as to what they’d think when trying to solve our contemporary problems.
Well, I don’t think that the Founding Fathers have a damned thing to do with me or my situation. And I don’t, under any circumstances, want to have to follow the instructions they left for us. They can keep their wooden teeth and their archaic ways.
But it’s the Fourth of July, so we have to celebrate our forefathers, no matter how corrupt or evil some of them were.
In that spirit, hats off to Harry S. Truman, who was too weak to resist the urge to use the atomic bomb against the Japanese, even though Japan’s surrender could have been achieved without such a massive loss of life. Harry was also the guy who let Alger Hiss, a traitor of the worst kind, work in the State Department, and in fact defended him despite irrefutable proof of Hiss’ treachery.
As long as we’re saluting great Americans, hats off to Joe McCarthy, who blacklisted good people from governmental work by falsely accusing them of being Communists.
And hats off to Jack Kennedy, who cavorted with gangsters and their whores and sold out his principles to them. And hats off to his brother Bobby, who let himself be intimidated by J. Edgar Hoover into authorizing hundreds of illegal wiretaps. And hats off to Hoover, who tried to destroy the name of Martin Luther King through blackmail.
And, if we’re celebrating America’s great past, three cheers for George Wallace, who stood in the schoolhouse door and refused to let black students enter.
And hats off to Franklin Roosevelt, who possibly could have prevented the massacre at Pearl Harbor, but didn’t. And hats off to Lyndon B. Johnson, who let himself be talked into escalating the war in Vietnam, causing millions of deaths. And hats off to the war protesters who by their actions helped the Viet Cong defeat us.
And hats off to Janet Reno, who authorized the use of force against the Branch Davidians in Waco, thereby causing a huge loss of life.
And hats off to George H.W. Bush, whose inability to find a peaceful settlement in 1990 caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and caused thousands of Americans to come down with Gulf War Syndrome.
Hats off to the line of thinking that led to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and to the people who deliberately exposed Americans to nuclear radiation.
Hats off to Ronald Reagan, who thought ketchup was a vegetable and who sold weapons to Iran because he thought it’d lead to freedom for hostages.
And lift a glass to the Supreme Court that made segregation the law of the land.
And three cheers for the Ku Klux Klan, which found in Indiana a home and a supportive environment for their terrorism.
And hats off to the people who deported workers back to Mexico when they were no longer of use to them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m as pro-American as you can get. When I think of America, I think of the Bill of Rights, something so wonderful that it must have been an accident.
I think of King, fighting a system and a government that would have happily kept Rosa Parks in the back of the bus because it was too inconvenient to treat her as a human.
I think of the other side of Truman, the side which found compassion and charity for the people of Europe in the dark days following World War II. I think of the people who volunteered to go away to some godforsaken land and die in order to ensure our freedoms.
I think of Jackie Robinson, who fought a lonely battle to integrate the sports world.
And I think of my parents and grandparents, who, like millions of others, worked their fingers to the bone so that their kids would have a better life than they did.
So I’m going to celebrate on the Fourth of July, but I’m not going to celebrate the worst that America has to offer.
America’s greatest strength is in its people, the average Joes and Janes you pass on the street every day. If you’re going to observe the holiday, lift a toast to those people, because without them this country would be in worse shape than it is. That’s what makes America great.