Independence Day in America – July 4 – is not for the political left to celebrate. Not anymore, at least. Those who have spent decades belittling basic American values, demonizing displays of patriotism, and publicly insulting – and even physically assaulting – anyone who dares believe that America is an exceptional nation has no business participating in Independence Day festivities.
More to the point, in these times of political violence and vicious disputes over the fundamental meaning of American ideals, there is no place, on July 4, for those who either do not understand or refuse to recognize the very principles upon which this country was founded.
Nationalism and Independence Day
Most nations have at least one day in the calendar year when they honor their nationhood. Some recall the official founding of a country while others commemorate gaining independence from a colonial power or establishing political autonomy from a larger and often oppressive political entity. In the United States, July 4 is a celebration of all three of those things. Ultimately, however, founding and independence days across the globe are – and should be – the celebration of unashamed patriotism and nationalism and the championing of original values and traditions.
Nationalism is not a bad word even though, in certain parts of the world at certain times in history, it has had negative connotations of racial superiority, xenophobia, and exclusion. American nationalism means none of those, though. As is often said, America is a nation of immigrants, and nationalism in the United States cannot, by definition, make exceptions for ethnic origin.
A nationalist is a person who values his or her own nation above all others, and, in that respect, those who aspire to govern should be viewed with much suspicion if they reject the concept of nationalism.
On a side note: The bizarre concept of “white nationalism” is not really about nationalism but primarily about race. True white nationalists are far more concerned with perceived threats to the survival of the white, ethnic-European race than they are about the fortunes of any one specific country.
A Celebration of Liberty and Equality
While it is easy for anyone to state blandly that July 4 is a day to celebrate American values, it is worth remembering exactly what those values are: freedom, independence, self-reliance, the right to worship, and the right to aspire to greater accomplishment. Yes, all of those things, and, far more fundamentally, the two concepts that underpin them all: liberty and equality, protected and guaranteed by law.
The French revolutionaries aspired but utterly failed to reshape a monarchy into a democracy that respected — above all else – liberty, equality, and fraternity. The success of the earlier American Revolution was imperfect, but the Founding Fathers avoided the mistakes later made in France by eventually drawing up a Constitution to enshrine into law a system of government designed to preserve the same values later pursued by the French revolutionaries. There were still imperfections, and those were rectified by the Bill of Rights and by later amendments extending a guarantee of equality to blacks and women.
Liberty and equality go hand in hand – neither can exist without the other. A fundamental American value is government’s solemn duty to protect and promote both ideals. As the 17th-century English philosopher John Locke said: “The [purpose] of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.”
The modern American left, though, fails to understand the fundamental meaning of equality. When any one section of society – formerly denied equality – is afforded special treatment under the guise of making amends for past injustices, the concept of equality is perverted.
The way to create equality is simply to remove barriers to it, not to elevate any one group of people over others, and claim that the previous denial of equality to that group now justifies its elevated status. By its very definition, equality demands that all are treated equal and all are guaranteed the same opportunities for success, prosperity, and security.
The Role of Government Misunderstood
Nor does the left agree with Locke’s view of government – one that was shared by the Founders. The government’s role, the left believes, is to restrict liberty in the name of public welfare. The common good – being more important than individual freedom – demands that certain practices and even certain opinions should be repressed or banned outright in order to protect and sanitize society as a whole. This is the basic belief behind all leftist political systems.
While claiming to act in the interests of justice and both economic and physical security, the American left no longer even attempts to disguise its all-out attack upon the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution.
Neither does the left respect the Fourth Amendment. The idea of suspending the Fourth Amendment rights of gun owners is, to leftists, perfectly reasonable. What about the Fifth Amendment right to due process? American progressives do not recognize it: If a leftist is suspected of committing a crime, that individual is defended vociferously. A conservative suspected of criminal wrongdoing is assumed guilty – due process be damned.
Democratic presidential contenders are almost unanimous in their desire to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens – or, at the very least, to make it almost impossible to legally carry or use a firearm under any circumstances.
At the same time, the left’s Sturmabteilung – the masked middle-class white boys known as Antifa – are physically attacking people in the streets in a naked attempt to silence political dissent. Neither Democratic politicians nor their media lapdogs express the slightest misgiving over these blatantly fascist tactics. It does not take much to imagine what the reaction of these same politicians would be if a conservative organization orchestrated such routine and ongoing violence.
This Is Not Your Day, Progressives
Why then should the presence of leftists at July 4 celebrations be tolerated? Why, in fact, would leftists even want to celebrate this particular day? This day does not belong to the left; it belongs to the right. It belongs to those who genuinely believe in true liberty and equality. It belongs to people who believe the government has no role beyond guaranteeing the security of the nation and the liberty and equality of all Americans – regardless of political opinion, religion, and ethnic origin. This day belongs to people who think waving the flag is an act of patriotism and burning it an act of spiteful betrayal.
July 4 is not a day for those who hate and divide and who believe a person should be silenced or assaulted because he or she refuses to conform to a progressive worldview. Above all: July 4 is a day to celebrate everything progressives despise; for that reason, it is a day more worthy of celebration than any other.
Read more from Graham J Noble.