Independence.....Week

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Okay, so I am a day late. But I have an excuse. My wife and I moved out of the old "party couple" house and into a new "suburban responsible couple with a kid" house over the weekend...and I don't have my computer or DSL hooked up yet.

With that said, as we sat in our new suburban home and met many of our new neighbors, we got a glimpse of how many of them chose to honor America: mowing, drinking, grilling, watering their yards...and blowing stuff up until midnight.

As we sat on our new neighbors' deck, we discussed the merits of July 4th, and what it meant to us (yeah...like anyone, we wax nostalgic and philosophize as we get a good buzz cookin'). It was unanimous in our discussion: that dissidence and the need for constant review and change are the true benefits of what our forefathers laid out for America.

Kudos to LLPN fo their post on this topic and the links they chose. They support the notion that we are successful as a ntion because of the victory of dissent, the freedom of our press and the rule of law, not tyranny.

Sometimes we indeed pass laws that are oppressive by their very nature, usually in reaction to some threat or perceived threat. But through constant review, questioning and dissent, these types of laws are repealed. I am reminded of Thomas Jefferson's remarks in response to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Act in 1798, which we opposed:

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt...If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience until luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.
I love that quote, because it is always our principles that are at stake. When you are a free and liberal (in the classic definition of the word, not the Fox definition) society, you are always going to deal with mayhem, both from abroad and, quite often, from home. It's a consequence of being free, and one we can't lose even in small pieces. It's why laws like the Alien and Sedition Act are repealed, and...who knows...maybe even parts of the Patriot Act. Woodrow Wilson oppressed us with his own version of a Sedition Act. F.D.R. interred Americans. It happens in war, serves no purpose ultimately, and is put to rest. That it keeps happening is a normal part of the human condition. That is keeps getting undone is a credit to our extraordinary ability to hold to the principles that keep us free. As Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas warned:
As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
It is the repeal of laws that we oppress ourselves with, and the vigilance to keep them from happening again and again, that mark true independence and patriotism.

4 comments:

red, white and brew 12:35 PM  

Your argument that liberal patriots want to renew America has a problem. Liberals only see what is wrong with America and are doing their best to dismantle the freedoms that the majority of Americans want and have enjoyed for hundreds of years.

Instead of returning back to the days of American freedom, liberals want to turn American into their image. You want to eliminate God and forbid school kids from believing in him. You want to take away the right to defend our freedoms, by outlawing our guns. You want to enforce your agendas by paying for it with everyone else's tax dollars.

What about celebrating the things that America has done right? We have a country that allows everyone a place at the table. We have equal rights, not special rights for the minority (gays, illegal aliens, etc.). We have majority rule for those who actually want to participate. We defend the word from crazy people.

Conservatives celebrate what America is, while liberals scorn the 4th because of their failure to turn America into a French colony.

Smitty 9:43 AM  

Hey! You're back!

So, as usual, a few things:

It is simply demagoguery bolstered by a ratings drive amongst EIB and Fox to suggest that liberals celebrate what is wrong with America and want to dismantle the freedoms we have enjoyed for some 230 years. It is simply patently false. I cannot imagine one single person, save for maybe Kim Jong Il, who wakes up every day wondering what he or she can do to ruin America adn take away freedoms. It is a notion that simply isn't based in fact. One single simple example is the bipartisan outrage over monitoring Americans' communications. Both sides argued equally and vehemently that it was a fight over two things: too much Executive power and and infringment on my right to free speech. If liberals were truly bent on destroying America, we should have no problem with monitoring communications.

As for the elimination of God, again, I see is a distortion of the issue. I can't agree more with your notion that we have a country that allows everyone a seat at the table. The important bit about that, relevent to the religion discussion, is that any religion ought to get a place at the table too. They do, except if only one philosophy is stressed over all of the others. By doing that, you effectively shut the other voices out. So the solution we have right now, upheld by the overwhelmingly consevative supreme court, is "pray on your own time." Which is fine. It would be burdensome to have Buddhist Prayer Wheel day, then Islamic East-facing mat day, then Catholic snack time day, then snake handling day, followed by agnostic extended recess day, etc. From my own perspective, there is only 1 God who exists as a Trinity, and praying to anything else is a waste of time in the end, but I certainly cannot and will not stop the Buddhist family from doing their prayer wheel thing, or the Hindus from praying to that weird one with all the arms. I am unaware of a "liberal" who has introduced a bill explicitly stopping anyone from believing in God.

Requiring trigger locks on guns, as a gun owner myself (here in Michigan, we own guns to get food and ward-off black helicopters), is not the same as taking my guns away. I do disagree with the party on this gun issue: if I want to own an AK-47, an AR-15 or a vintage M-16-A1, with the "rock-n-roll" option still equipped, I should get to. But we live in America! I can disagree!

The notion of "agenda enforcement" by overtaxation is a holdover from the Reagan-era accusation of the tax-and-spend-liberal. It is undeniable that Bush has outspent Clinton 7.6% to 3.4%. Spending bills from the Republican majority, which Bush has not vetoed a single one of, has grown 29% in 4 years. Republicans in Congress have increased nondefense discretionary spending at a record rate of 36%. Bush has yet to veto one pork-barrel spending bill. In just 4 years, the Bush administration has increased nondefense discretionary spending by 1/3 more than the Clinton administration did in 8 years. Granted, our war is expensive, but the right thing to do would be to cut low-priority government spending. We used to have a balanced federal budget which allowed us to pay-off debt. That apparently left with Clinton. Who's agenda is being enforced by paying for it with MY tax dollars?

Let's not forget, too, that Bush actually does want to grant special rights" to illegal aliens.

And the indictment that liberals "scorn the 4th" is simply insulting, ripped straight from the propaganda machine of Fox news, and absolutely based on a fictional view meant to divide America along political lines. Conservative talk radio, conservative news shows, consevative articles spit vitriol and vehemnce, imploring you to hate your liberal neighbor who is tearing apart America. But with an implored level of "other-party" hatred, who really is tearing apart America? I love it as much as you do. Who doesn't get a proud lump-in-the-throat at reading the moving words behind the Declaration of Independence? Nobody writes like that any more...

At the very least, the 4th of July is one day you and I can agree on. It's a far better thing to have the freedom to debate important issues than to be a French, German, or British colony.

Otto Man 8:28 AM  

Very well said, Smitty, in both the post and the rebuttal to RW&B.

Let me add that, despite what the right-wing noise machine would say, the idea that "liberals only see what is wrong with America" is worse than a cliche. If liberals seem to you to be harping on the problems in America, it's because we hold the ideal of America close to our heart and very badly want the reality to live up to it. As Sen. Carl Schurz said over a century ago, "My country right or wrong -- if right, then to be kept right; and if wrong, then to be made right."

By your logic (or Limbaugh's or Fox News's), conservatives only see what's right in America. Denial may help you sleep better at night, but it's not doing anything to help your fellow Americans or make this great country even better.

In practice, however, conservatives seem to have no problem with America, but lots of hatred for their fellow Americans. Conservative politicians, despite the "uniter not a divider" rhetoric, are constantly ginning up ways to turn Americans against one another. Nixon's men called this "the politics of positive polarization," by which they meant it would benefit them to pit groups of Americans against one another.

And, judging by your post, RWB, it's working. You've bought the lies that liberals want to eliminate God -- I'll be sure to confess that one to my priest -- and you've obviously received the marching orders that this year you're supposed to hate the gays, the immigrants, etc. etc.

Somehow you've convinced yourself that it's possible to hate your fellow Americans and still profess your love for America. Interesting.

Thrillhous 1:54 PM  

Here here, Smitty. And I agree w/ OM as well regarding the validity of RWB's characterizations.

RWB, I recommend to you an article by E. J. Dionne, a liberal op-ed writer at the WashPost, from the 4th. Here's an excerpt that might help explain what you see as librul's criticism of the U.S.

But the progressive and the reformer have a problem with what passes for unadulterated patriotism. By nature, the reformer is bound to insist that the country, however glorious, is not a perfect place, that it is capable of doing wrong as well as right. The nation that declared "all men are created equal" was, at the time those words were written, the home of an extensive system of slavery.

Most reformers guard their patriotic credentials by moving quickly to the next logical step: that the true genius of America has always been its capacity for self-correction. I'd assert that this is a better argument for patriotism than any effort to pretend that the Almighty has marked us as the world's first flawless nation.


This is a core belief for liberals, that our democracy is a continuous experiment, that we will never reach a point where we can say "This is good enough". Anything less would be the soft bigotry of lowered expectations.

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