Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Independence Day? Independence for whom?

I missed the whole July 4th event. I usually look forward to July 4th, not because of the meaning of the day, but because of the BBQs and fireworks. But I also dread July 4th because I usually get sick to my stomach in church on July 4th (and it actually fell on a Sunday this year ) because of songs like, "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me." Rather than take the emotional energy to tell you why this song makes me physically ill, and to explain why I have unfavorable opinions towards "Independence Day," I will post from Alex Kane's blog, because it really sums up the way I feel on July 4th:
The Fourth of July always brings out in me conflicted feelings. On the one hand, I would love nothing more than to celebrate the United States of America, to be able to carelessly sing the praises of this country. Most Americans are able to do this because they are ignorant of this country’s foreign policy, or just don’t give a damn. I’m sure it feels good.

But for myself, and for many other Americans on the left, this day is a sad reminder that the flag we all celebrate and turn into a sacred cow is also the representation of occupation, murder, theft and death for millions of people around the world.

So on this Fourth of July, I will think of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, suffering under the boot of American occupation (or in the case of Palestine, American-funded occupation).

I will leave you with an excerpt from this eloquent speech by Frederick Douglas, still, unfortunately, highly relevant and applicable today, but just with different actors:
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

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