A few contradictions about the 4th

Today, folks in the US are celebrating the 4th of July which is known as Independence Day. It is an important day, but what it meant was an idea of independence from Great Britain. We still had to fight for it. And, we should not forget there were many in our country who remained loyal to the crown and did not want indpendence.

I think this last point gets forgotten, but it is a precursor to what makes this construct created by our founders so lasting. Our citizens consistently disagree with each other on issues. This disagreement is not new, nor is it always civil. And, it has been violent on occasion. But, most of the arguments have been traceable back to power.

We argued about slavery from the outset which led to a civil war. When a landowner’s human assets are his most valuable possessions, it is hard to tell him he cannot have them.

When women wanted to vote, men did not want to share power saying women did not have the smarts or temperament to understand voting. I wonder if we went back in time and said more than 50% of college students are now women would we be believed?

When the KKK had a growing influence in Congress with 25 Senators and over 100 Congressmen with some ties, it took their misstep of openly condemning Jews to make their power lessen. This was not Nazi Germany, this occurred in the United States.

When Jim Crow continued for much too long, it took pictures, horrific events and courageous souls to make people take notice. It was an uphill fight that cost many lives, but men with names like Martin, John, Medger, Malcolm, Lyndon and women with names like Rosa, Billie, Coretta, Shirley, et al made us take notice.

When a populist from Wisconsin used television and his Senate pulpit to make things up to cause Americans to fear communism, people lost their jobs, reputations, and some their lives. It took a concerted effort and time from newspeople with gravatas and a few witnesses to reveal the evil nature of Senator McCarthy. Even President Eisenhower had to tread carefully with this mean spirited and untruthful acting person.

When a more quiet movement called the “Lavender Scare” occurred, men and women who were perceived or known Gays and Lesbians were fired from their government jobs. Many of these folks were loyal, diligent and proficient public servants, but they were let go. This movement continued from the end of the 1940s throughout the fifties.

When we moved hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans to camps during WWII, we violated their rights as citizens. We took away their possessions, livelihoods and homes. The communities they served with commerce were malserved. There had to be a better way than the cold-hearted decision that was made.

Now, we have a too divided union resulting from purposeful misinformation and disinformation. We had a populist president who has used similar tactics to that of McCarthy. Make things up, sow seeds of division, blame someone, rinse and repeat. We are more at odds because a former president with a shallow ego is not man enough to admit he lost an election. So using his own niece’s phrase, he is burning it all down to avoid losing.

Folks, it is OK to disagree. Even couples and siblings disagree. But, we should listen to each other and not take their heads off. We should not demonize their opinion as that is the worst form of name calling, which is simply not a good argument. When people name call, especially if they have clout, dig deeper. Ask questions. That is what finally got McCarthy to back down. He did not have answers to questions and sweated on camera when you asked good ones.

To say it simply, our country has survived a lot because we asked questions and showed spotlights on bad behavior. We should not let our democracy crumble because of name callers who per Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Freidman said “Do not have a second paragraph.” Civil discourse. Civil questions and answers. Fear sells and wins elections, but it does not govern well over time or sometimes from the outset.

Happy Independence Day. Let’s keep that flame alive.

27 thoughts on “A few contradictions about the 4th

  1. Well said, my friend. Your trip back through history, through the times this nation struggled to find common ground, to retain its foundation, reminds us that this doesn’t have to be the end of the “American Experiment”, that we CAN still pull a rabbit out of the hat, but that we ALL have to do something … we cannot simply sit on our thumbs and “hope for the best”. I tend to be somewhat less optimistic than you, but your optimism helps me to remember that there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.

    • Jill, thanks. Another interesting thing happened yesterday. A judge let Dominion’s lawsuit over defamation against Fox News and two other pseudo news groups go forward. The lawsuit is for $1.6 billion. One key note therein is Dominion asked them to stop early on and they doubled down on their unjustified claims of voter fraud. It does not mean these pseudo news agencies will be found liable, but they will have to prove they are not.

      Again, for the umpteenth time, when people fly to close to Donald J. Trump, they usually get burned. There is a reason this happens, but it is amazing how so many people have not learned this tough lesson. A lesson that parents know all to well, it is important to know who your children’s friends are. “You can’t play with little Donald. I am sorry. You will have to trust me on this.” Keith

      • I saw that in the news today and couldn’t repress a grin. I would LOVE to see Fox have to pay Dominion … do you think they might learn not to promote baseless lies in the future?

        Indeed, Donald Trump poisons everything and everyone he touches. From all I’ve read, he was that way even as a young child, so I imagine there were many kids who were forbidden to play with him even back then.

      • Jill, they should pay a price for intentional misinformation and sloppy reporting. This is especially true when they were asked to stop and chose not to. I am not surprised by anything I hear about Trump. Keith

  2. Thank you, Keith. A most erudite and well thought out review of how America was to be given her due, despite the flaws (which every other country shares)
    I applaud your sentiments and hope this will just be another ‘episode’
    May you be having a good ‘4th’

      • The details of that shooting turned up on our news feeds just after I had sent that to you Keith.
        It may come out the suspect has a history of mental illness, but in this atmosphere of polemics and confrontation a shooter would have been gifted their own twisted rationale for action.

      • Roger, at this point, rationale matters less, the fact that there is no way on earth for the US to stop its mass shooting, suicide and other gun death problems without tangible action is the issue. We passed a watered down bill, but tend to ignore data driven truths that show better paths forward. Keith

      • This is true Keith.
        The problem is the mindset of the pro-gun lobby and its supporters who live in this contradictory state.
        They have the right to tell women how to conduct their physical lives. But they also demand the freedom to carry weapons of death. They see no contradiction though in suppression of others and ‘freedom’ for them.
        This is indeed a Gordian Knot which is tightening its grip on the domestic life of the USA. Frightening the ordinary folk but encouraging the extremists and the disturbed, not just to carry guns but to use them.
        The courage displayed by politicians such as Liz Chaney is sadly lacking is many others.

  3. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    I find celebrating this Independence Day to be a bit macabre, rather like throwing a big birthday bash for someone who was just murdered, but then I lean toward pessimism these days. Fortunately, our friend Keith reminds us of all the times this nation has started down the wrong path but managed to turn back around. Let’s work toward turning it around yet again, shall we? Thank you, Keith, for these reminders and for your continued reminder about engaging in civil discourse rather than lowering ourselves to the level of the ‘other side’.

      • You’re right … it MUST … but it’s getting harder and harder to be civil in the face of all the lies and outright hatred being spewed these days. Sigh. I try, but I’m not always successful.

      • Jill, keep reporting the facts. I find myself deleting editorial comment at times when the facts speak pretty clearly. I also like trying to ask that the politicians need to do better than they are dead wrong. Yet, it is hard. Keith

      • And I shall, my friend. And I rely on you to let me know when I need to re-think, need to calm down and regain my perspective, for you are so good at that!

    • Janis, thanks. We have indeed. Our construct often withstands not the best of incumbents. Have a good 4th. We are low keying it this year. Keith

  4. Note to Readers: A lesson for our two political parties, but more so with my latest old party the GOP, when the incumbents have damaged the reputation of the position, the party he or she represents should take the fastest action to remedy the situation. To me, that shows they care to represent us well. When they tolerate people who are not serious minded, then it hurts their party first, then the full body. Yet, we the people are the greatest victims.

  5. Note to Readers: Some of the above observations come out of historian John Meacham’s book “Soul of America” which also is covered in a documentary by the same name. I was so unaware of the KKK intrusion into Congress until I read his book. A scary corollary is the highly racist movie “Birth of a Nation” was in the Top 100 of most influential films – and not in a good way looking back. It falls to us to shine a spotlight on this poor excuse of behavior.

  6. All it takes is one failure to turn the tide for a nation to be flooded and destroyed. If the lesson you are learning from the past is that somehow you always overcome, you (Americans) are doomed to eventual failure. I do not want to see it happen, but if you keep beating a horse it will eventually die

    • Rawgod, thanks for your comment. Your point is well taken, but I think our construct is better than our incumbents. We have survived bigger inanity than this, but clearly the challenges persist and are a tall mountain to climb. To me the biggest challenge is we are largely uninformed country, which means it is easy to sway opinion. Keith

      • There lies the problem, Keith. It seems easy to sway certain opinions, but not other opinions. But “opinion” might be the wrong word. Certain people are more willing to believe bullshit over truth, but refuse to believe truth over bullshit. “The Big Lie” is utter bullshit, yet over 30% of Americans choose to believe it, no matter how many times it has been proven a lie. When Americans can be swayed to believe truth over bullsit, then America might become a sane country. Meanwhile, insanity rules. The inmates are in charge of the asylum.

  7. Note to Readers: One of the finest displays of governance occurred during a dark time called Watergate. Governance held serve in this case. President Richard Nixon was forced to resign before he was impeached and convicted by Congress. The bipartisan votes were there to do so, following a lengthy hearing chaired by folksy, but very smart Senator Sam Ervin of NC. The Waterloo for Nixon was his paranoia to not only sanction the break-ins to get information from his opponent, but to record conversations in the White House. Nixon famously said he was not a crook – he was wrong.

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