Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 4th: Both/And

I struggle with this holiday. I adore John Adams. He was a bit of an asshole and I adore him. As for the rest, I struggle with this holiday.

On the one hand, there is the fact that what happened in Philadelphia two hundred thirty-odd years ago was truly brilliant. No one had ever done what these men did. They broke with the mother country and created an entirely new one. The confluence of brains and bravery is, quite frankly, unparalleled in my opinion.  They pulled this shit off. They were men ahead of their time.

On the other hand...they were men of their time. They were racist, misogynistic white men who had built their new country on the backs of slaves and at the expense of the indigenous people who helped them survive in the first place.  I learned from a very young age that the Preamble should have read: "We the white, male, land-owning people of the United States ..."  Attempts to abolish slavery through the Declaration were not only ignored but used as blackmail. Admonitions to "remember the women" (Abigail Adams to her husband, John) were disregarded. The effects are still in play to this very day.

I believe the Constitution is one of the greatest written works ever, right up there with Hamlet. Its ideals should be celebrated, lauded, emulated.

I don't believe we have ever, going all the way back to that hot room in Philadelphia, truly lived those ideals in this country.

So. Do I celebrate the Constitution? Toast the bravery and brains that accomplished the truly unthinkable and lay the groundwork for every other revolution? Or do I call out the bigots who lay the groundwork for the inequalities they refused to acknowledge and we still face?


Those are deeply patriotic and conflicted Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.