Happy Fourth of July?
The roots leading to and the founding of the United States of America are riddled with inaccuracies and myths to fit the concepts of what Americans claim to hold dear. It begins with Christopher Columbus and how he was hailed as a “hero” for finding the “New World.” The world was not new and had been inhabited by indigenous peoples for centuries. One of the biggest boosts to the myths was spawned with the Puritans coming to the Colonies in pursuit of religious “freedom”: however, that freedom was only for themselves. They lacked tolerance and kindness toward anyone who disagreed with their brand of faith.
As you all know, the Colonies broke away from England to establish a country to “establish justice,” prominently stated in the Preamble to the US Constitution. The Preamble also states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. “Later, the Pledge of Allegiance echoed this sentiment: “with justice and liberty for all.”
Even taking “men” as a general, outdated, sexist term for all humankind, these proclamations are a lie and applied to rich white men. If you had money or the wherewithal to gain it, your life was better ensured, your liberty extended to the right to vote and speak your mind, and pursuing happiness was at your discretion. Women and people of color were not created equal, were denied their “rights” (which means that they were really “privileges” and privileges extended to white men), and the happiness of women and people of color was dependent on the white men who oversaw them as wives, slaves, and oppressed minorities.
If a person’s religion was not mainstream, he/she also suffered although the Constitution ostensibly guarantees freedom of religion; it seems that the freedom to choose consisted of Column A or Column B of Protestantism. Thomas Jefferson writes, “But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god” (https://www.monticello.org/…/r…/jeffersons-religious-beliefs), but that is seldom “advertised” when fundies discuss the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers.
Over the decades and centuries, these ideas were challenged and the challenges resulted in the Civil War and amendments to the Constitution that allowed women and people of color to vote. The legal changes did not change social and cultural conventions, however, and women, people of color, and poor people continued to be second class citizens.
In recent times, I thought we were working toward equilibrium; now, I fear that we will lose any gains we have made.
I love America. My Irish ancestors immigrated to the colonies in the 1730s. My seventh great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War. While the Constitution did not originally mean freedom for all, many people were working to toward making the incomplete ideal the complete ideal.
Happy Birthday, America. You are too old to still be feeling the pangs that accompanied your birth, and your old age will is being fraught with fear, division, and the destruction of the even limited ideals that started the grand experiment.
This country is responsible for so much bloodshed. First the indigenous were slaughtered as they tried to retain their own lands and burial sites. TO THIS DAY they are still losing everything. Measles blankets were handed out by Puritans to kill them off. Their land is being taken for oil pipelines, desecrating their ancestral homes and burial sites. They were always wanderers following bison, or deer. That was their life and they no longer have any of it. Only small reservations and little else; they lost their pride, their independence, homeland and everything that they lived for. I lived on Pine Ridge for awhile and the devastation and poverty they suffer to this day with square houses from HUD or something when they had round homes openings facing east.
[theslot.jezebel.com] Then was the importing of Africans and using them as slaves, opportunities to rape, beat and hang, then the Civil war the south wanting to keep slaves (cheaper than paying help) and the President and North against it. "Before the war, millions toiled in legally sanctioned lifetime slavery; afterward, the laws permitted slavery only as punishment for crime." [independent.org] In our blind love of country (which doomed Germany BTW) "what Yeats called “the blood-dimmed tide,” the brutal establishment of slavery, the race wars with the original inhabitants that Bailyn is not afraid to call “genocidal,” the full, horrifying details of which have virtually been erased." [smithsonianmag.com]
I say from my own experiences America has never been great. It strives for greatness but leaving the past in the dust doesn't get you there, you are only bound to repeat it.
I just love the revisionist history of the country being founded on religious freedom . In the early years. , just straying into a town with a different denomination was enough to get bumped off as a heretic. Ironically religion had nothing to do with the first settlers . I suggest reading New World Inc for a fairly complete look at the actual commercial reasons for the colonies, but it's not complete, they only covered what was in British government records. Considering I had a great. Great to the umpteenth power Grandmother who was born in what is now Haverhill Mass( in fact, all the streets in the center of that town are named after my various ancestors). ..20 years before the Mayflower got there the town was already established before then( yeah. I thought it was a typo too, until I contacted the Massachusetts Maritime Museum and found there were countless private trading settlements all up and down the coast long before the official story. They even had ships passage records whe great Grammy etc travelled to England in at 16 years old and came back on the 2nd ship after the Mayflower with a new husband. Yes, I can officially thumb my nose at the Mayflower crowd. Religion had zero to do with it., although many adopted the denominations of the religious groups who moved in later.These folks were generally not trading above board back in England, much was diverted to other European ports to avoid tax ...gee , rich guys operating offshore to avoid taxes...hmmm)
The whole, bit about the US constitution etc being unique... the brits would beg to differ. These rights were already present back in England. and had been for a while.
My late Grandmother was old enough, born in 1880s, to have been raised to where she wasn't supposed to learn how to read and was ostracized for it.( epic fail, she became an English teacher and was well into adulthood before being able to vote. It's no secret where my family got its progressive views.
All the schmaltz about too much taxes, just the same tired bit we hear today from Republicans groaning about having to pay too much, when in reality they pay less than just about anywhere in the world. During colonial times, the people back in England were the ones with something to complain about. They were paying way more in taxes, in order to subsidize the military protection along the coast to protect the 'mericans from Spanish etc raids. So the rich white guys were getting the poor folks back home to subsidize their business ventures.
At the time the revolution was brewing. Some native communities in the upper Ohio valley ( my kids are partially descended from one )were already ( and had been for ages) living in nice houses. Had schools stores etc, but were having a huge problem with I'll prepared white folks showing up and stealing their stuff. The brits showed up and told them if they helped quash the rebellion, they would keep the squatters away. We all know how that went. One of good 'old Washingtons first things he did was to disband these folks and kick them out. Nothing says freedom and equality like a little good 'old fashioned ethnic cleansing.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
I was PROUD to be an American because it meant it was a sophisticated and open-minded enough country to be able to take criticism, even condemnation, in stride. That was the country's greatest strength.
In listening to, and learning from, critical voices it was able to learn and improve, constantly learning from mistakes and correcting them, thus ever improving, thus creating an ever more perfect union.
Notice I didn't say PERFECT, but ever MORE perfect, never actually attaining the state of perfection, so always deserving of criticism. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.
This reminds me of Jefferson's words, "...the PURSUIT of happiness," never actually attaining the state itself, for who can be truly happy when so many of our citizens are not happy, instead are miserable? But free to look for it, at times catching a glimpse of it, occasionally experiencing moments of it, even perhaps days, weeks, months, even years of it. But for most of our lives usually an elusive target.
So we are constantly in pursuit of perfection, but smart enough to know that pursuit is constant, never-ending, most often or in extreme cases always, out of reach. But as long as we keep pursuing it, it WILL be within reach. It's when we STOP pursuing it that it drifts OUT of reach, and when that happens, hope fades, enthusiasm wanes, spirits flag.
That's when I stop being PROUD to be an American.