What do we celebrate on the Fourth of July?
Our national independence! (As we subvert the national independence of Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, as well as assist in the brutal occupation of Palestine and Yemen – none of which threaten us with any harm?)
Our national sovereignty! (As unregulated legal immigration reaches new highs, unstoppable illegal immigration overwhelms the border, while the apolitical “Jarvanka” shills for the cheap-labor lobby and the bipartisan Durbin-Graham “DREAMer Team” shill for the amnesty lobby?)
Our military supremacy! (As our military grows more impotent as its $1.25-trillion-and-counting budget grows more exorbitant, the “War on Terror” – with its staggering cost of nearly $6 trillion and about a half-million lives – has nothing to show for itself, and our “superpower” status is overstretched?)
Our political unity! (As partisan polarization gets so severe that the government is constantly breaking down in gridlock and shutdowns – occasionally interrupted by tribalistic crises like the Kavanaugh confirmation – while fake news like the “Covington Kids” and “Jussie Smollett” scandals are insta-politicized by radicalized techno-mobs lynching each other online?)
Our liberal democracy! (As political scientists conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence” – in other words, that the government is an “oligarchy,” not a “democracy”?)
Our constitutional liberty! (As economic and social terrorism by “the Fourth Estate” and “Silicon Valley” repress our freedoms of expression far more pervasively than old-fashioned state propaganda and surveillance ever could?)
Our free press! (As the media becomes less informative and more provocative – from a public institution essential to self-government to a consumer product targeting various demographics with fake news appealing to their prejudices – while journalists defend Jim Acosta’s grandstanding as an expression of First-Amendment freedoms and condemn Julian Assange as a spy for reporting on war crimes?)
Our “Judeo-Christian” morality! (As our corrupt, decadent, “Weimerikan” culture embodies each and every one of the Seven Deadly Sins while “progressive occultism” and literal “devil worship” are the fastest-growing religions?)
Our economic prosperity! (As 78% of our workers live paycheck to paycheck, real wages have not risen since the 1970s, two-thirds of bankruptcy cases are tied to medical bills, the (under-)employment rate is over 7%, job growth is absorbed by immigrants, another financial bubble is inflating, and 40%, and 20% of wealth belongs to 10%, 1%, and 0.01% of the people?
Our historical identity! (As “antifa”-iconoclasm creeps from Confederate history to all of American history, even overthrowing figures as harmless as the songwriter Stephen Foster and the singer Kate Smith?)
Our racial diversity! (As minority groups become so triumphalist about demographic trends toward a “majority-minority” population – with skeptics pathologized as paranoid, prejudiced, and psychopathic – that “diversity is our strength” becomes “diversity is your punishment”?)
Our rule of law! (As “anarcho-tyranny” victimizes the lawful and peaceful while empowering the lawless and brutal, the “RussiaGate” conspiracy theory risks a soft-coup at home and a hard-war abroad, and a partisan judiciary interferes with the authority of other branches of government?)
What have the conservatives conserved? What have the progressives progressed? Nothing. (The less said about the libertarians, the better.)
National holidays such as “Independence Day” presuppose the existence of a sovereign nation-state – a coherent, distinct nation, for one, and a state which is the political expression of a nation, for another. What “Weimerika” is, however, is a nation against itself and a state against the nation – that is, a people who all hate one another and a government which hates its own people.
On July 5th, 1852, the freedman-abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave a speech to the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society of Rochester, New York, titled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” In his speech, which has since gone down in history, Douglass opened with a conventional tribute to the American Revolution but ended with a bitter twist:
What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
As rhetoric, Douglass’ speech is sublime; as history, it is dreadful. Douglass’ speech was one of the earliest ideological revisions of the Declaration of Independence from an act of secession which had more to do with self-interest than human rights into a veritable human-rights manifesto. According to Douglass, the American Revolution was not a colonial reaction against a faraway and meddlesome government, but an enlightened, universal expression of “the rights of man.” Thus, slavery, which denied that “all men are created equal,” was a “contradiction” to and “inconsistency” with the “principles” on which American independence was founded.
Douglass did not conceive of this literalist interpretation of the Declaration of Independence on his own, although his speech was one of the most eloquent and impassioned articulations of it. Such interpretations of the phrase “all men are created equal” had existed as soon as those words were written (though notably not from Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, or any of the other authors or signatories of the Declaration), but it was not until Abraham Lincoln incorporated this idea into his chiliastic and gnostic rhetoric that “all men are created equal” fundamentalism was canonized.
On July 4th of last year, leading “Black Lives Matter” agitprop-activist Shaun King shared Douglass’ speech. “Frederick Douglass was a prophet. Every single word of this is as true today as it was over 150 years ago. Read it all. The Fourth of July was always a sham.” In response, mewling “conservatives” over at Breitbart (and even at American Greatness) recited their “proposition nation” catechism. (They did not even challenge the big lie at the heart of the “Black Lives Matter” protest movement: The reason that blacks are arrested and even shot by police in disproportionate numbers is, sadly, because blacks commit crime in disproportionate numbers.)
Instead of continuing to cling to a corny, saccharine civic religion which offers them nothing, Americans should do as Douglass did and ask themselves the hard question, “What, to me, is the Fourth of July?”
What is the point of celebrating the independence of your country when your country has been reduced to lines on a map with nothing holding it together but the money and power of a central government? (Indeed, even “secession,” a question which for over 150 years has supposedly been “settled” by the so-called “Civil War – the same way that the Indians’ titles and treaties were “settled” by the Indian Removal Act? – is now making a comeback!)
What is the point of celebrating the independence of your country when everything for which your country stands at home and abroad disgusts you? (Check out publicly funded NPR reporting on the U.S. State Department promoting feminism in Iran and the U.S. government’s Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty criticizing Russia for censoring homosexual content in American media!)
What is the point of celebrating the independence of your country when your country is so unrepresentative of the people that it might as well be occupied by aliens? (And I, for one, would be interested in hearing what any prospective extraterrestrial overlords had to say!)
As painful as it is to doubt something about which you have always been certain, it is foolish and even dangerous to continue to cling to a belief that is clearly based on a falsehood. False knowledge is worse than mere ignorance.
As the country as a whole unravels – that is, as the bourgeois, “neo-liberal” institutions of capitalism and democracy lose their legitimacy in the face of economic stagnation, environmental degradation, and mass-migration, not to mention anomie – what does the ruling class of this country do? Instead of listening to their fellow citizens and doing anything differently, the elite continues to tug on the threads of the cultural, economic, political, and social fabric while vilifying those who realize that the status quo is neither normal nor moral as “Communists” (if they are on the left) or “Nazis” (if they are on the right). On issue after issue – playing nice with other countries rather than bullying them or reducing immigration numbers rather than boosting them, not to mention the bogeyman of “democratic socialism” – the people are ignored and their will is rendered irrelevant. The U.S.A. does not belong to “us”; it belongs to “them.”
The whole point of national independence is that a country’s interests are supposed to be more accurately and effectively represented by its own people – “self-government” – but independence is worthless if no one actually represents the people. The lobbyists to whom politicians listen closely and whom they understand very well have good reason to celebrate independence, perhaps, but not the people whom are overruled whenever they try to take back their country and are otherwise ignored.
Thomas Jefferson, for example, did not support independence for independence’s sake alone, but supported it as a small step towards the larger goal of self-government. In fact, independence was so beside the point to Jefferson that he would have rather been back home in Virginia framing her new government than in Philadelphia drafting the Declaration of Independence! “It is a work of the most interesting nature and such as every individual would wish to have his voice in,” Jefferson wrote to a friend about the constitutional convention in Virginia. “In truth it is the whole object of the present controversy; for should a bad government be instituted for us, in future it had been as well to have accepted at first the bad one offered us from beyond the water without the risk and expense of contest.” As Jefferson’s biographer Dumas Malone explains, “He regarded political independence not as an end but as a means, and was more deeply concerned about what should follow the formal separation than about the action itself.”
The philosophical statesman Edmund Burke once observed, “To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.” Well, lately, our country – if it can even be called “ours” – has been anything but lovely. Indeed, whether it is bombing, looting, or polluting the rest of the world, Weimerika has warped into a downright demonic force for chaos and evil.
The Iranians call the U.S.A. “the Great Satan.” (Americans would do well to check their kneejerk-jingoism and remember that to Iranians, the U.S.A. is a country which in 1953 deposed their progressive government in order to install a subservient dictatorship, since 1979 has isolated them diplomatically and economically, from 1980 to 1988 backed Saddam Hussein as Iraq invaded their country and unleashed chemical weapons on them, since 2002 has vilified them as a “martyr state” and “state sponsor of terrorism” for helping neighboring countries quell rebellions and repel invasions, since 1948 has been allied with a “Zionist regime” which menaces the Middle East, and just recently broke their denuclearization deal on false pretenses, legitimized a criminal group which was exiled from their country, labeled a branch of their armed forces a terrorist group, and is now threatening – in all-caps – to “end” their country.) Given the U.S.A.’s utter mendacity and malevolence toward Iran – which it has never forgiven for “declaring independence” itself – it is no more of a wonder that the Iranians chant “Death to America!” and burn American flags than it was a wonder that the Americans of 1776 chanted “Death to King George!” and burned the British in effigy.
In a sermon against the “Great Satan” and “Zionism,” the Islamic scholar Yahya Jafari described the nature of these Western beasts:
They do not understand the language of reason. They do not follow international law, nor do they follow moral and humane laws. They have no religion and do not accept God. They are a bunch of profane people, but seemingly, some are called Christians and some are called Jews. If the prophet Jesus were among us, would he justify the criminal measures America takes today in the name of promoting democracy and freedom?
As insulting as such an epithet is, what makes it even worse is that it is all too true. The utter stupidity and savagery of Weimerika is shameful – and Donald Trump is merely a symptom, not the disease.
Does Weimerika listen to reason? No, it rejects any information which seems to limit its belief in its own “exceptionalism,” “indispensability,” and other chauvinistic conceits.
That imperial arrogance is why it broke the denuclearization deal with Iran despite ample documentation of compliance which it had even certified itself.
That imperial arrogance is why it broke the Paris Agreement despite the dire ecological consequences of climate change.
Weimerika is, then, irrational and unreasonable.
Does Amerika follow international law? No, because of its chauvinistic belief in its own “exceptionalism” and “indispensability,” it pursues a unilateral foreign policy which not only defies its own allies and treaties, but also defies reality itself.
That imperial arrogance is why it not only broke the denuclearization deal with Iran in bad faith, but also punished Iran and its former P5+1 partners for continuing to abide by the deal that they all negotiated in good faith.
That imperial arrogance is why it broke the Paris Agreement, not only setting an example of bad faith in an agreement based on good faith, but also undoing environmental regulations and undermining climate science at home.
Weimerika is, then, lawless and reckless.
Does Weimerika follow human-rights laws? No, it perversely weaponizes human rights, calling out abuses in so-called “rogue states” (e.g. Iran and Syria), covering up abuses in its client states (e.g. Israel and Saudi Arabia), and carrying out its own abuses whenever and wherever it wants (which is allowed because of its “exceptionalism” and “indispensability”).
Israel can snipe Palestinian children, journalists, and medics at their border or proclaim itself a “Jewish supremacist” ethno-state and Weimerika will respond by blithely reaffirming the Israeli-American unholy alliance. But if someone attacks a Japanese ship in the Persian Gulf (during a diplomatic mission to Iran from Japan) or Iran shoots down an American drone (encroaching on Iranian airspace), Weimerika will immediately play the victim and threaten violence.
Saudi Arabia can attack Yemeni marketplaces and weddings or strangle and dismember a Saudi dissident working for The Washington Post, and Weimerika will respond by blithely reaffirming the Saudi-American unholy alliance. But if poison gas supposedly goes off somewhere in Syria, Weimerika will immediately launch airstrikes on Syria before figuring out what really happened and then lie about it once it does.
Weimerika is, then, unfair and untrustworthy.
Does Weimerika follow religion? No, its traditional Christian religion having been purged from public spaces and private hearts, if it has any gods at all, they are profane "gods" of consumerism, egalitarianism, hedonism, individualism, materialism, narcissism, permissiveness, selfishness, and transgressiveness. (Overweening delusions of “exceptionalism” and “indispensability” are chauvinistic expressions of this underlying narcissism.)
Prestigious cultural and social events like the “Met Gala” and “Time 100” epitomize this godlessness. Supposedly held in honor of influential public figures (artists, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, philanthropists, statesmen, and the like), these events have instead degenerated into platforms for moronic and narcissistic pop-stars to exhibit – and in some cases literally expose – themselves for attention.
Weimerika’s only gods, then, are false gods.
Would Jesus promote “democracy” and “freedom” in other poorer countries as Weimerika does – by isolating them from the global economy and dropping bombs on them until the crisis reaches a breaking point, then exploiting the crisis to impose unpopular and predatory economic policies? Would Jesus even approve of the nature of “democracy” and “freedom” here in the so-called “exceptional and indispensable” Weimerika, where abortion and pornography are protected as quasi-sacred constitutional rights, where corporate greed and governmental corruption sustain an opioid epidemic, and where sporting events glorify militaristic propaganda?
Weimerika, then – its cesspool of a culture, its house-of-cards economy, its gangster-style government, and the insanity of its society, all of which it also exports around the world – is indeed “the Great Satan.” Indeed, in Islam and the other Abrahamic faiths, Satan is, above all else, “the Deceiver.” What better word, then, for a country whose current chief representative to the rest of the world in one moment jokes, “We lied, we cheated, we stole,” and in the next moment preaches, “It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment” – all to the applause of his audience of college students?
What better word for a country whose chief representative to the rest of the world, in the midst of overthrowing another secularist “regime” with more jihadist “rebels” in Libya, blathered about “humanitarian intervention” and “smart power,” only to burst out cackling “we came, we saw, he died!” upon learning that the Libyan head of state had been lynched?
What better word for a country whose chief representative to the rest of the world, despite invading Iraq under false pretenses, still boasted, “Our record of living our values and letting our values be an inspiration to others I think is clear, and I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to what America has done for the world”?
What better word for a country whose chief representative to the rest of the world, when asked about the human cost of economic sanctions against Iraq (that is, a half-million dead children), retorted, “We think the price is worth it,” yet when later asked to justify military force against Iraq, rhapsodized, “We are America…we stand taller and we see further than other countries into the future”?
What better word for a country whose chief representative to the rest of the world, in order to reassure the Soviet Union, promised, “If you remove your troops and allow unification of Germany in NATO, NATO will not expand one inch to the east,” but after the dissolution of the USSR, expanded NATO so far to the east that it is now massing forces on Russia’s very border (all the while calling Vladimir Putin “the next Hitler” or “the next Stalin”)?
Remember when Ron Paul was booed at “GOP” debate hosted by FOX News and The Wall Street Journal for suggesting that our foreign policy should be based on the “Golden Rule”? (By contrast, Newt Gingrich received a roar of approval from the audience for responding, “Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about America’s enemies: Kill them.”) Needless to say, booing the Golden Rule is, quite literally, “Satanic.”
The only other word for Weimerika besides “Deceiver” that comes to mind is yet another anti-American Iranian epithet: “The Capital of Global Arrogance.” As Weimerika’s current chief representative to the rest of the world just declared, “What’s good for the United States is good for the world,” and “America’s aggressiveness” is justified by “America’s essential rightness.” The pseudo-idealistic language with which Weimerika traditionally cloaks its imperial arrogance is simply insufferable, and thus such “swagger” – in this jingoist-turned-diplomat’s words – is at least somewhat refreshing for its lack of pretense.
Yet as a certain ex-President (who, just like a “deceiver,” followed up winning the Nobel Peace Prize with setting records for drone-strikes and prosecuting journalists) would say, “Let me be clear.” So let me be clear: As much as I hate all that is chaotic and evil about “Weimerika,” I love all that is lawful and good about “America.” Just as there cannot be light without darkness, there cannot be love without hatred. Thus, I hate the plastic, toxic Weimerika that has supplanted the organic America that I love and to which I am loyal. Weimerika is to America what McDonald’s is to Bern’s.
“What to the American is the Fourth of July?” Good question. I answer: A day that reveals to us, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which we – and the rest of the world – are the constant victim.
To us, our so-called national independence is a sham.
Our much-ballyhooed “values,” an unholy license.
Our self-assurances about ruling a “unipolar world,” swelling vanity.
Our redefined identity and retconned history as a “nation of immigrants,” empty and heartless (to native citizens at least!)
Our self-proclaimed status as “a city upon a hill” and “a light unto the nations,” brass-fronted impudence.
Our self-righteous shouts of “fighting terrorism” and “spreading freedom,” hollow mockery.
Our platitudes about “the character of this nation,” “the core values of this nation,” “the soul of this nation,” “our standing in the world,” “our very democracy,” and “who we are,” are, to us, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
There is not a nation on earth less independent – as Eugene J. McCarthy put it, “a colony of the world” where businesses control economic policy, foreign states control foreign policy, and immigrants control immigration policy, all in their own self-interest at public expense – than are we the people of these United States, at this very hour.
James Rutledge Roesch lives in Florida. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, as well as the author of From Founding Fathers to Fire-Eaters: The Constitutional Doctrine of States' Rights in the Old South.