The Irony of the Fourth
Something in particular bugs me about how we treat the Fourth of July. So many people I know are conscious of the vast destruction done by the U.S. to its own residents, to natives, and to foreigners, and don’t fall into that blind jingoist “Proud to be an American,” “USA is the greatest country in the world!” delusion. And that’s good.
But I also see so many people “celebrate” the day ironically. Even socially conscious folks in my own community. Wearing it like costume, poking fun at it. “Hey, isn’t it funny that people think this and act like this?” It’s no different than bigoted jokes told for that shock-value humor — “Isn’t this so horrible that it’s funny? Isn’t it hilarious that people believe this bigotry?”
But it doesn’t come across as funny, and it doesn’t come across as satire. It comes across as blind privilege. The same way those racist or homophobic or misogynist or transphobic jokes do. The same way appropriating offensive stereotypical costumes of racial minorities does. It comes across as people who haven’t felt a red, white, and blue boot on their neck thinking it’s funny to stomp around in them for a little while. The is true for the many others who simply find it harmless to adopt the fanfare for the same reason — because it has never harmed them, only others.
Let’s not celebrate and laugh about how great our country is. Because it isn’t. It was and is quite a horrific place to live for many and a destructive force against those living outside it. And let’s not celebrate and laugh about how horrible or out of touch our country is either. For the exact same reason. As disturbing as it is to celebrate the U.S. jingoist propaganda as true or helpful or even neutral, it’s just as disturbing to celebrate its lies as funny and entertaining.
Say no to glorifying and celebrating a whitewashed history of the U.S. Say no to pretending its current state is one of liberty and justice. Say no to nationalism in all forms, from blatant jingoism to ironic distance. By all means, gather and celebrate. Celebrate your friends, your families, your communities. But gather in resistance. Gather and say no to the propaganda of the Fourth.