Free at Last
Greetings, and a belated happy Independence Day to one and all.
In reflecting on this sacred and inspiringly patriotic date, it strikes me that it may just be time to stop all this nonsense already. Officially, July 4th is the day we celebrate our independence as a nation. It’s not, it’s worth noting, a celebration of our nation, though we seem to hold it as such. It’s a celebration of our independence. Independence from what? From the British.
Now look, it was a great thing and all, but it was rather a long time ago at this point. Those terrible tyrants across the pond have long since stopped laying any claim to us. We got free of them and eventually they got over it. In fact, the Brits have given up tyranny altogether by now, replacing it with some sort of government in which people take turns lobbing snarky, loudly intoned remarks at each other across some sort of large desk bearing gold boxes while their peers yell and stomp. No one understands it, but at least they’re no longer plotting to rule America. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that these days, they’d just as soon have as little to do with us as possible; hence, our independence is safe.
In fact, the Yanks and the Brits have about as amicable a relationship as any two exes could hope for. We’ve sent each other gifts. They’ve sent bacon, The Beatles, Cadbury chocolate, Gordon Ramsay, and The Office, and we’ve sent them jazz and instant coffee. We’re mad for each other’s cultures. And citizens can now travel freely between the two nations without fear of capture.
In the many years since our escape from British rule, a couple of events have cropped up that were at least equally impressive and, arguably, more deserving of all this hoopla. The founding of the United Nations was pretty good. How about the Civil Rights Act? Why are there no huge discount sales in their honor? Many assert that Election Day ought to be a national holiday. This seems like a fine day for celebrating America, since voting is one of the most American things we can do. And wouldn’t it be far more sensible to set off fireworks in the fall, when there’s less risk of burning ourselves to the ground in a nationwide act of stubborn Darwinism?
Look, the Curmudgeon is a patriot—truly. My sentiments in that regard may differ markedly from some of my fellow countrymen. (It seems to me that these days, many Americans' expressions of so-called patriotism share absolutely nothing in common with our founding principles.) Regardless, I am also of the strong belief that many of our early policies and practices simply haven’t aged all that well. I’d even go far as to say that, in retrospect, some of them are downright embarrassing. So maybe we don’t need to jump up and down quite so much on the 4th of July, screaming about how great we are. Maybe we could transfer that enthusiasm to a more deserving date, one with more current resonance. I don't know about you, but for the Curmudgeon, the scars of British oppression healed long ago.
And while we’re at it, may we please reassess some of the things we’ve come to think of as quintessentially American? Hot dogs are vulgar, strange-tasting, and mysterious. No one knows precisely what they contain, only that we don't want to know. We invented deep-dish pizza, pecan pie, tater tots, meatloaf, milkshakes, and s’mores; for heaven’s sake, may we not choose one of those to represent our nation instead?
Furthermore, anyone with tastebuds knows that pecan pie is clearly superior to apple. Disagree with me if you like. You have every right to be mistaken. After all, it’s a free country.