Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy July 4!

Update: I can't believe I didn't title this. Oh well, I'll just blame my lapse on the residual effects of the root canal yesterday! Meanwhile, why are you still here reading blogs - go enjoy a beautiful day and celebrate our Independence!

This op-ed piece by Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson, expresses beautifully the ideals that American progressives hold about the American Dream:

In the Fourth of July, 1829, William Lloyd Garrison-- who looked like a shop clerk and set rhetorical fires like an arsonist -- took the pulpit at the Park Street Church in Boston. Rather than celebrate, he said, Americans should "spike every cannon and haul down every banner" because of the "glaring contradiction" between the Declaration of Independence and the practice of slavery. The grievances of slaves, he argued, made the grievances of the American colonists look like trivial whining. "I am ashamed of my country," he concluded. "I am sick of our unmeaning declamation in praise of liberty and equality; of our hypocritical cant about the unalienable rights of man." ...

...Even across the centuries, his gall is startling. But Garrison laid bare the central contradiction of the American experiment: that the land of the free was actually a prison for millions of its inhabitants...

...Which is why some of us love this holiday so much. It is the day when cynicism is silent. It is the day when Americans recall that "all men are created equal" somehow applies to the Mexican migrant and the Iraqi shopkeeper and the inner-city teenager. And it is the day we honor those who take this fact seriously. Those in our military who fight for the liberty of strangers are noble. Those dissidents who risk much in Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea and China are heroic. Those who work against poverty and injustice in America are patriots -- because patriotism does not require us to live in denial, only to live in hope.

In America we respect, defend and obey the Constitution -- but we change it when it is inconsistent with our ideals. Those ideals are defined by the Declaration of Independence. We have not always lived up to them. But we would not change them for anything on Earth.”

Bolding for emphasis is mine. This is rhetoric any progressive could have written and any modern day conservative would have panned as “bleeding heart liberalism at its worst.”

Yet, ironically, it comes from the man who was Bush’s chief speechwriter and still is a principled conservative. Where did all their idealism go?

Anyway, there are some principles we all hold dear in America. And this is the time, however temporary, to remember what binds us together rather than what separates us.

Happy Independence Day!

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