Here they come again – the Sousa bands, the waving flags, the cheering crowds, and the fabulous fireworks. Ah, yes, it’s Yankee Doodle time again in America. So let’s get ready to party.
It’s just that I really don’t understand what we’re celebrating.
I don’t really understand why millions of people in this country still pretend that they live in America the Beautiful. I don’t understand why they are not wailing in grief because Yankee Doodle is no longer “dandy.” I don’t understand why there is no widespread sadness about the tragic transformation of their national image.
In fact, in this eighth year of our Bush/PNAC captivity, far too few people in the United States are willing to acknowledge that Yankee Doodle Dandy has now become Yankee Doodle Deadly. The sad truth is that too few people are even remotely aware that the American flag, like Yankee Doodle, has lost every bit of its meaning.
For sure, on this Fourth of July, millions of US flags will be flown as if nothing untoward has happened to the nation they represent. So many Americans have no clue that their flag has lost its glory. They do not realize that Yankee Doodle – along with any other symbol of the USA – now stands for immoral wars, a shattered Constitution, domestic spying, legalized torture, and corporate greed.
I hate to admit it, but I don’t think any of this really matters. After all, it’s a national holiday, so God will Bless America, the flag-draped coffins and maimed bodies of our soldiers will remain hidden, and patriotism will abound as the band plays on.
For the record, none of the songs will be about war, death and destruction, post traumatic stress disorder, missing limbs, civilian deaths, habeas corpus, NSA spying, water boarding, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Valerie Plame, gasoline prices, joblessness, the national debt, or Katrina victims. It’s a time to fire up the barbeque and have fun, and a time to honor the troops by applauding the military bands.
But I just can’t do that and I can’t just keep quiet. I know that I’m putting a damper on a much needed time of festivity in America. But death does not have the luxury of taking a holiday, and the annihilation of our republic will not diminish over the Fourth of July weekend. So, the damper be damned.
As America gears up to celebrate its perceived greatness, I choose to acknowledge the shame and betrayal I feel as an American. There is no pride left to flaunt, and I cannot conjure up even a pretense of patriotism. And on this Fourth of July, I will silently mourn a most irreplaceable personal loss: the flag of the United States itself
To that end, I will remind our readers that the symbol of American hopes and dreams once belonged to us all. After 9/11, the Stars and Stripes were usurped by the fear mongers en route to their long-planned wars. Early on, in a heart-felt protest, TvNewsLIES.org tried to reclaim the flag because we still believed it could be done. Our editor wrote:
• Real Americans tell the TRUTH!
• Real Americans treat the world with respect.
• Real Americans value the Constitution.
• Real Americans value human rights.
• Real Americans value the environment.
• Real Americans believe in equality.
• Real Americans fight for veteran’s benefits.
• Real Americans fight for peace, not for war.
• Real Americans want to be respected, not feared.
• Real Americans want to lead by example, not by gunpoint.
That was then, this is now. That was years ago, this is 2008. We are very close to the base of the Bush/Cheney/PNAC abyss in which the American flag has been confiscated along with so much else. The Congress is a joke and he Constitution, as George Bush once said, is ‘just a damn piece of paper.’ By now, I have serious doubts about ever getting anything back, and more tragically, I can no longer define a ‘real American.’
Surely, I am not alone in my distress – but the voices of dissent have largely become silent across the land. Those of us who understand the enormity of the devastation continue to preach to our respective choirs, and to commiserate about our collective concerns. But as we stand on the brink of another illegal, profit-driven war, there is no public outrage. Instead, we party.
Think about it. On this historic holiday, millions of Americans will passionately celebrate their independence from tyranny. How ironic is that?
They do not understand that, at best, it will take decades to restore any of what has been lost. And at worst, the remarkable republic conceived by our Founding Fathers will wither away completely.
But never mind; right now it is Yankee Doodle time, so I will end with one caution to any reveler who might read this rant by chance:
Wave those flags and cheer those bands, but as the fireworks burst in brightness, don’t look at anything too closely. For if you do, you might notice that this time around Yankee Doodle is not at all what he appears to be. In a truly good light, you just might see that Yankee Doodle, the patriotic symbol of an America gone by, is no longer dandy.
In truth, you might actually discover that he is really, really, deadly.
Vachel Lindsay, The Leaden Eyed