It’s the Fourth of July, Two Thousand Twenty.
This is one of those situations in which my tendency to be long-winded is actually beneficial, because there’s no short or succinct way to sum up my feelings about this specific day. To say that I’m conflicted would be close to the sentiment, but there’s no real conflict there. I know exactly what the situation is, and I know exactly where I stand. I know that there is nothing in conflict between my own positions and the ideals of the United States of America.
The conflict lies between those ideals, and the so-called “conservatives” who back a Nazi named Donald Trump, a man who surrounds himself with Nazis and various other white supremacists, who foments racial violence, who paints anyone who stands against him as “the enemy,” and who has succeeded in very nearly destroying this country, all while claiming to be a “patriot” and taking credit for successes that either weren’t his or haven’t happened at all.
The conflict lies between the ideals of this nation, and the system of policing that was allowed to develop within in, growing out of slave patrols prior to the Civil War, and further developing in the Jim Crow era into a force specifically intent on enforcing segregationist laws. It is a system that is inherently racist, will never cease being racist, and must be dismantled and replaced with an actual public safety apparatus. This does not mean eliminating law enforcement, it means eliminating this system of law enforcement, commonly known as “community policing.” It is both unnecessary (as proven by drops in civilian criminal reports every time it’s cut back) and harmful (as proven by numerous factors, not the least of which being the disproportionate rate of police murders of innocent black people per capita).
The conflict lies between the ideals that were enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and the so-called “conservatives” who claim to want small government and individual liberty – but only individual liberty for white, middle-class people like themselves, while electing politicians who vote against them despite claims of supporting the middle class, and looking the other way while those politicians perpetuate the revolving door between government and the private oligarchy of corporations; turning what was once a capitalist economy into an inverse fascist economy, complete with the violent jackboots on the ground to attack and imprison those who dare to protest it.
The conflict is not mine, the conflict is between The United States of America – my country, which I love because of the ideals it was founded upon – and those who would seek to destroy it from the inside while claiming to be “patriots.” The latter group includes the Republican Party, fake “libertarians” who are nothing more than Republicans trying to usurp the libertarian name (which started with Murray Rothbard, by the way, and he was the first to admit that), and the small but extremely vocal minority of active voters who still – by intentional ignorance at this point, which you know is my biggest pet peeve – believe that anything is better than letting a Democrat win any given election.
I could address that group here, but there’s nothing left to be said about them besides that they’re forces for evil working against the very foundational purposes of this country. And even if I were to say that to them, they wouldn’t listen. They’re hopeless. They cannot be reached. They cannot be convinced. They have turned their back on the self-evident truths that formed the basis for this experiment in 1776, and they will not return. They are to be rejected, socially and politically. They are not Americans by ideal, they are merely Americans by where they happen to have been born.
That last point is something we have to discuss.
Many of you know I’m a big fan of late-night TV, and one of my favorite hosts in particular was Craig Ferguson. Ferguson is Scottish by birth, but became a U.S. citizen in 2008, even going so far as to broadcast the test and his swearing in ceremony. His American patriotism is no surprise if you’ve followed his career. He has a prominent tattoo of Benjamin Franklin’s “Join Or Die” political cartoon on his right arm. He had a panel talk show on the History Channel by that name (Join Or Die with Craig Ferguson) in which he and the panelists would debate interesting topics in American history, such as the greatest Founding Father, the most doomed presidential campaign of all time, or history’s biggest douchebag. His memoir is titled “American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot.” The man has a deep and passionate love for what this country was meant to stand for.
Since its publishing, that title has been an inspiration to me. What does it mean to be “American on purpose?” Ferguson described it thusly in the book’s last paragraphs:
“For me, becoming an American was not a geographical or even political decision. It was a philosophical and emotional one, based on a belief in reason and fairness of opportunity.
“I swore an oath not to be cowed by the authority of kings and churches. I won’t allow any kids of mine to grow up as I did, witnessing casual hatred between children just because it had always been that way.
“I didn’t become any less Scottish when I became an American. The two are not mutually exclusive. I am proud of my heritage. I will always be Scottish in my heart, but my soul is American, which means: between safety and adventure, I choose adventure.
“Scottish by birth, but American on purpose.”
He has such a perfect grasp on it. It’s so elegant in its simplicity, and powerful in its meaning. To be American on purpose is to truly believe in and embrace the American ideal: all people are created equal, we all have the same inherent individual rights, and nobody gets to violate those rights.
Ferguson’s memoir was published before Trump’s election, during the Obama administration, and he hasn’t updated it since, so it doesn’t include his perspective on the current situation in this country. He’s spoken out about that elsewhere, though, and it’s pretty clear that he stands with the American ideal, not those who are trying to tear it down through false “patriotism” (which he does decry in the book, as it was on full display during the Bush administration).
Strange how the very basis for the existence of this country can be seen, embraced, and expressed more clearly and concisely by immigrants who come here; as opposed to the charlatans posing as “patriots” who were born here – and want to keep the immigrants who seek a better life in this country out of it, I might add.
But that’s nothing new. America has always had a problem with racists (we fought a whole war over that, and we obviously still haven’t fixed the problem), xenophobes, misogynists, religious zealots, homophobes, transphobes, and any number of other types of hateful people and groups who manage to weasel their way into political power. Prior to our involvement in World War II, there were even Nazi sympathizers in prominent places of business and politics in this country. It’s sadly no surprise that they’ve risen to prominence yet again. Hatred is all too easy to fall into and spread.
I’ll relate this to my standard statement to fake “Christians” – and “Evangelicals,” in particular, who are actually just the renamed Dixiecrats of old by way of the “moral majority.” How are you representing Christ by being hateful? We can tick off all the boxes: racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, religious bigotry of any kind; I’ve seen it all. We all have. You cannot claim to be a Christian and tell gay people that the way God created them is a sin. Fucking learn science, you hateful shits. God made them that way, and God doesn’t make mistakes. You’re not Christians, and you’re certainly not Christians on purpose. You’re bigots, and you’re the reason people reject God.
The same applies to these fake “Americans” – and “conservatives,” in particular, who are also just the Dixiecrats of old by way of the “moral majority.” How are you representing America by being hateful? We can tick off all the boxes: racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, secular bigotry or any kind; I’ve seen it all. We all have. You cannot claim to be an American and tell black people that their demands for justice make them “the enemy.” Fucking learn the Constitution, you hateful shits. We are all to be protected equally under the law, and that hasn’t been happening. You’re not Americans, and you’re certainly not Americans on purpose. You’re traitors to this country, and you’re the reason why people think America is evil.
Let me address the misnomer these fake “conservatives” usurp, as well. I’ve explained this before, but it bears repeating in this context. “Conservative,” in the true, traditional American political sense, means adhering to the founding and governing principles of the country as laid out in the Declaration and the Constitution. Basically, to be a conservative means that you believe in the inherent rights of all people, that government should exist only to protect its people and uphold the laws that protect those inherent rights, and that as long as what you’re doing doesn’t harm anyone else or their property, you’re free to do it.
In that sense – the TRUE sense – of the term, I am a conservative through and through.
Donald Trump is not. His supporters are not. The Republican Party is not. The Republicans ceased being a conservative party when Ronald Reagan brought in the “Evangelical movement,” which I have said many times before was the worst mistake he ever made. Barry Goldwater warned him that they would take over the party. Billy Graham warned him that the party would take over the religion. They were both correct. And as I said before, these people are nothing more or less than the Dixiecrats who left the Democratic Party in the late 60’s through the early 80’s. Regardless of the reasons why (and we can debate that until we’re blue in the face), the Democrats began supporting the civil rights movement in the mid-60’s, and the Dixiecrats started looking to build bridges on ostensibly economic issues with the Republicans. Then it became “moral” issues. Then they finally admitted that meant social issues. Now they’re openly racist once again. They are not conservatives. You can’t even call them big-government liberals (though they are). They’re just racists. That’s what motivates them. Nothing else.
But those people, as I said earlier, are a small, vocal minority in this country.
There’s still a problem, though. The majority of We the People of the United States of America, historically, have not been bothered enough by that hateful minority enough to care about the problems that minority causes until it reaches power. We’re a live-and-let-live bunch, but we tend not to stand up to the live-and-kill bunch because we’re not usually in the crosshairs. That’s not being American, on purpose or otherwise, that’s just being. Being American means being American on purpose. It means standing against anyone who would oppress, attack, kill, or let die, on the basis of race, creed, skin color, sex, gender, orientation, nationality, or status as an immigrant or citizen. Being American on purpose means to actively stand for the American ideal, not simply dismiss the problems and hope they get solved down the road.
We have to be American on purpose.
And that’s exactly why I’m not conflicted today: because I’m seeing that happening.
We have people protesting in the streets because the government is not only ignoring the problems, the government is actively perpetuating the problems. We have people protesting in the streets to demand justice, not just decry the lack of it. We have people protesting in front of the houses of elected officials, demanding their action or resignation because they have done little to nothing to fix the problems. We have people working politically to remove the corrupt, indifferent, and performative dead weight in governing bodies. We have an ongoing, nationwide protest of a government that has become so anti-American to the point that this protest has even spread around the world, with solidarity demonstrations in countries that both do and do not have the same or similar problems. People are tearing down the statues and monuments meant to honor evil, oppressive and racist historical figures, almost all of which (save for those outside our country) were put up to intimidate black people after the Civil War and have nothing to do with “heritage,” only hatred.
THAT is American patriotism. THAT is being American on purpose. This country was founded on protest and destruction of property that represents oppression, including the Boston Tea Party. This country’s ideals were upheld by protest and destruction of property that represents oppression, including John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. This country’s ideals demand that response and more, as “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
There is no more patriotic, American activity than protesting, fighting, and abolishing a corrupt, oppressive, outright destructive government. And baby, you’d better believe our current government fits the profile.
So I’m encouraged today. This is the 244th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Americans are standing up against the government that has been holding them down. Americans are showing their patriotism by protesting and working to eliminate the problems. Americans are demanding the American ideal is upheld.
It is the Fourth of July, Two Thousand Twenty. Independence Day. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.