Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day.

Yesterday the PP, who is not traveling with me at this point, said this in an e-mail:
Speaking of tomorrow, we have a holiday over here called Independence Day. I assume you do not celebrate it over in the UK. Or if you celebrate you might want to do it quietly. Seriously, is there any notice of the date at all there?

Well, no, today really is no day of note here, and perhaps that is no surprise. I do not think, for instance, that in the US we have a day to celebrate the hasty removal of folks from the roof of a certain embassy, or the sinking of the Maine, and I can tell those of you living above the Mason-Dixon line that there are no official southern holidays celebrating union victory.

But since I do not hate freedom, I have been thinking a bit about Independence Day this morning. I am trying, for instance, to stop wondering: If we had lost that war, would we still be on the Pound, so that everything would not be so damned expensive for those of us earning in dollars?

It is frankly hard to think of the United States as an oppressed nation, given the way we have presented ourselves on the world scene for the last eight years, and really for another fifty or so before that.

But the letter writers to my local paper would remind me that even saying that is a freedom that I am now taking for granted. They are right.

Here in Britain, many people have been thinking hard about systems of government and, for instance, the prisons they employ in order to maintain justice, not just because of this show, which has been hot beyond hot, and which includes a pretty awful and frank plotline about what really happens in the joint. It is a bit of a reminder of what it means to free, on a personal level.

Having spent some time in recent years thinking hard about British colonialism and its effect on colonized places, it is strange to think of "the colonials" in what would become the USA revolting against their horrible oppressors, who were of course of their own culture. When I compare the situation of the folks of English descent in the colonies, I realize their situation was so different from those in Asia and Africa who were governed far more brutally by their English colonizers. But still: I believe that taxation without representation is a horrid thing, as is quartering troops among us, or making military power independent of and superior to civil power. And most of us in the US still believe in the importance of a fair trial by jury.

In fact, on this day more than any other day, it is worth going back and thinking about (or at least rereading) what it was that made those signers throw off allegiance to the Crown, because in doing so, we can remember the ideals that make us know how important it is to resist those who would distort this nation and what it believes in.

And tomorrow I will check out a real independence day.

Happy Fourth, Everyone!

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