Sunday, July 05, 2009

Why I don't Celebrate the 4th of July

The 4th of July! The day that a group of wealthy slaveholders got together and declared that all light-skinned people with penises and a certain amount of money in the bank were created equal, and solemnly concluded that this made it their duty to refuse to contribute a modest amount towards paying their war debts, and to start a bloody five years of civil war and devastation. Hurray!

That was part of a comment I posted and unposted last night, in response to someone encouraging me to write about the 4th of July. As you can see, I'm unsuited for celebrating revolution. I'm a conservative down to my finger bones. I loathe war, disorders, and mobs. My suspicion of fresh starts is limitless. Taking large groups of angry people shouting together to be the ultimate fount of wisdom strikes me as lunatic.

I understand why the colonists objected to the Stamp Act. I would have objected to it too. But all we had to do, really, was wait. Parliament was going to backpedal soon anyway, when they learned that the thing was unenforceable. That government was remarkably thick-skulled and ham-handed, but some governments are: you dig in your heels, make your objections known, and wait for them to run themselves into the ground. We're hardly talking about a totalitarian regime, here. Important parliamentary figures were making eloquent and impassioned speeches in our favor. Demography was, slowly but inexorably, on our side. If we had waited a few years we would have gotten nearly everything we wanted.

I don't give a damn about self-determination. There's no such thing. There's only one ruling class or another, and all of them treat some minority or other badly. The only question is how badly. If it's bad enough, sure, you take up arms. But even if you succeed, you only replace one ruling class with another. If some minorities are relieved from oppression, others will, I guarantee, have it worse under the new regime. Ask the Indians of the Ohio valley how great a step forward for human rights the new American government was. If you can find any.

So no. I don't celebrate the 4th of July, any more than I celebrate the Confederate Secession. I don't like revolution. I don't like civil war. I don't believe the tree of liberty is refreshed by the blood of patriots: what is usually refreshed by it is the tree of oppression.

No comments: