Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Another 4th of July

Fireworks in my adopted hometown of San Francisco, CA

It's another 4th of July and last year I made a happy post about it. I, however, thought about what I'd said and realized I wasn't very happy with the legacy of race and slavery in my coutry and I certainly wasn't happy with how we're still behaving on the international scene: Iraq, withdrawing from the ABM treaty and trying to erect missile shields, withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol and not offering up an alternative plan, Guantanamo Bay, etc.

Again, as an American abroad, I see the values, culture and opportunities that still resonate and attract people worldwide to the US. Sometimes it's a positive attraction, however, these days it could also be attracting people who want undermine those values. The sad thing is, to some degree, with this administration they've been successful in undermining our standing and soft power in the world.

However, I'd be blind not to see the benefits that accrue to me as an American. I also see the results of the sacrifice that Americans have endured for people wholly unconnected to them. That booming and prosperous Europe I've visited a few times has a lot to give to D-day and American GIs as well as the Cold War era support of US money to rebuild it. Here in Korea many Americans and soliders from all over the world lost their lives to fight the Korean War. In fact, US forces are still here securing South Korea.

Those and other fundamental positives of my country thus make me someone who does recognize the 4th of July.

However, I think a major responsibility of being an American is being informed and critical of our government because power corrupts. I don't see acknowledging the 4th yet questioning the policies of the US government as mutually exclusive. In fact, in a free liberal democracy those two things work together.

I found this timeline at the very liberal Mother Jones' magazine website: Lie by Lie: The Mother Jones Iraq War Timeline (8/1/90 - 6/21/03). I didn't post a link when I found it in April because I felt something like this bubbling up in the background of my thoughts.

Today the link is very appropriate because the piece lays it all out and highlights things such as expanded executive powers, liberties eroded, and when we used distraction and torture. (Just click on the icons to get specific lists.)

I hope that by linking it together, people who read it will see the linkages. And, I say, like anything, read it critically. But I'm glad someone laid out a timeline.

So, Happy 4th of July, and, like last year, here is a link to Fredrick Douglass' speech "What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?" A full quote of the speech is here on my blog.

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