My husband forwarded me this link in horror on Friday as we geared up for our neighborhood’s celebratory marathon. Could our neighborhood’s weekend frolicking among red, white, and blue bunting really transform the children of bleeding-heart liberals into blood-thirsty Republicans?
Of course not. Children who attend militaristic parades, because their parents and communities mistake militarism for patriotism, may well imbibe the ethos and enlist in elephantine politics. Parades and parties reflect the personalities of the people who plan them. On a block that interprets the 4th as an occasion to turn the street over to children, America’s infinite capacity for renewal outweighs any reactionary eulogies for an pretend past.
For some, fireworks may be small explosions co-opted from Chinese competitors in order to command cultural space with light and noise. I prefer to think of the array of color that comes forth from the original pop of white in the night. While Michele Bachmann and her ilk fabricate a history in which “American” bears a boring homogenous definition, I cherish the variety of cultures on the ground and colors in the sky. If our founders had desired national uniformity, they would have stayed on the far side of the Atlantic. Uniting states in governance NOT culture remains their greatest contribution history. Our most solemn patriotic duty lays in preserving that peaceful diversity.
This glorious 4th, when the parade passes or fireworks flame, suppress any instinct to imagine an invasion. Notice your neighbors’ nutty causes and kookie costumes celebrated in the streets. Look up at the irregular shapes and random squiggles dancing among the stars. Enjoy the marvelous mayhem that is America.