Born on the 4th of July …

Understanding the Meaning of Freedom
by George Lakoff

Not since the Civil War has America been more divided politically. The Civil War was fought over the question of what freedom in America was to be. The issue was in the open for all to see: human slavery, the bluntest effrontery to the idea of freedom.

The Culture War today is once more about the question of what freedom is to be in America. But it is subtler. No slaves. Instead, “detainees” in Guantanamo, held without due process; more than a million young African-Americans in US prisons, many held for nonviolent or victimless crimes; torture in Abu Ghraib and at secret destinations in Egypt and Syria; government spying on ordinary citizens. No slaves. Instead, illegal immigrants who want to come here to do back-breaking work for low pay and few rights. Remarkably, all this is in the name of “freedom.” It is a right-wing conservative conception of freedom and it flies in the face of the freedoms declared by the Founding Fathers and expanded upon since.

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The Boston Globe ~ July 4, 2006


To Defend Our Freedom, We Must Defend Voting Rights
by Jesse Jackson

If the greatest liberty is the freedom of speech and assembly, enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, then the greatest power to enforce our liberty is the vote. For the civil rights movement, the Voting Rights Act — passed after Bloody Sunday in Selma — was essential to transforming the South. The act empowered the federal government to police the states that were using a range of devices to suppress African-American votes. The act required that any change in election laws in the states with a history of segregation be pre-cleared — and that none be allowed that would diminish the right or the power of minority voters.

Now that basic principle is under assault once more.

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The Chicago Sun-Times ~ July 4, 2006


Patriotism and the Fourth of July
by Howard Zinn

The Declaration of Independence gives us the true meaning of a patriot, someone who supports a country’s ideals, not necessarily its government.


Mark Twain, having been called a “traitor” for criticizing the U.S. invasion of the Philippines, derided what he called “monarchical patriotism.” He said: “The gospel of the monarchical patriotism is: ‘The King can do no wrong.’ We have adopted it with all its servility, with an unimportant change in the wording: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ We have thrown away the most valuable asset we had — the individual’s right to oppose both flag and country when he believed them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it, all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism.”

If patriotism in the best sense (not in the monarchical sense) is loyalty to the principles of democracy, then who was the true patriot? Theodore Roosevelt, who applauded a massacre by American soldiers of 600 Filipino men, women and children on a remote Philippine island, or Mark Twain, who denounced it?

Read all of Patriotism and the Fourth of July
AlterNet. ~ July 4, 2006

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