This Fourth of July, I am not ‘proud to be an American’ | Opinions


On July 4, I’m not proud to be an American

Yearly on July 4, to a lot fanfare and revelry, america marks its 1776 independence from Britain.

The date can also be an official vacation in Puerto Rico and different de facto US colonies. A lot for “independence”.

I used to be born within the US in 1982, and, earlier than definitively releasing myself from the “land of the free” in 2003, received to expertise many a Fourth of July celebration. One 12 months, after I was 12 or 13 and residing within the Texas capital of Austin, my household and I attended an enormous Independence Day gathering by the river, full with deafening music and fireworks that completely traumatised our canine Bounder.

Though this was greater than 25 years in the past, I can nonetheless recall being disproportionately moved by the Lee Greenwood music, God Bless the USA – a staple of July 4th festivities – at the same time as Bounder convulsed beside me.

The music’s chorus begins: “And I’m proud to be an American, the place no less than I do know I’m free” – and, certainly, as I stood there surrounded by my fellow Individuals in a metropolis named for a coloniser and slaveowner, I felt my coronary heart swell with pleasure on the considered this inexplicable freedom that, in response to the tune, we one way or the other collectively loved.

Anyway, that’s just about how low cost patriotism works.

In her acclaimed e-book Notes on a International Nation, journalist Suzy Hansen by the way cites this exact same Lee Greenwood anthem, which she and her classmates sang at some point on the varsity bus in New Jersey throughout the US invasion of Iraq in 1990 – to not be confused with the 2003 US invasion of Iraq or the apocalyptic US sanctions that, as late American diplomat Madeleine Albright admitted, had killed some half one million Iraqi kids as of 1996.

Hansen was 13 on the time, and remembers “turning into teary-eyed” on the bus as she “remembered the MTV video of the music” whereas singing it – with the recollection of visible stimuli in fact solely including to the patriotic sensationalism of the second. And since we Individuals “no less than” knew that we have been “free”, Hansen writes, this meant that “everybody else was a chump, as a result of they didn’t even have that apparent factor – no matter it was, it didn’t matter, it was the factor that we had, and nobody else did, and we have been proud and particular”.

To make certain, Iraq is much from the one place on Earth that has lengthy needed to undergo the lethal repercussions of self-righteous American entitlement and ignorant nationalist fervour. As Mark Twain reportedly stated: “God created battle in order that Individuals would study geography.”

Granted, the geographical lesson could not have gone in response to divine plan, but it surely presumably issues little to the arms trade whether or not or not the overall US inhabitants can find on a map the international locations the US is bombing or in any other case terrorising. In the meantime, it definitely helps the imperial picture when the US army slaughter of civilians overseas can – as in Iraq – be solid as a noble effort to unfold that “particular” freedom that we Individuals “no less than” know we possess.

However simply how “free” are Individuals, on the finish of the day? Even because the nation manages to spend trillions upon trillions of {dollars} on bellicose endeavours, Individuals themselves are disadvantaged of such fundamental rights as inexpensive healthcare, schooling and housing. Homelessness is a veritable epidemic within the US – and has reached a stage not seen in drastically poorer international locations.

In April, the New York Occasions quoted San Francisco emergency room physician Maria Raven on the latest dreadful uptick in homeless deaths in America: “It’s like a wartime loss of life toll in locations the place there isn’t any battle.”

Then once more, perhaps there may be in actual fact a battle – and one which America is waging by itself folks.

Not solely are Individuals decidedly not “free” from poverty or homelessness, however the US additionally boasts the best incarceration fee on this planet – an association that has historically stuffed the coffers of the personal jail trade to the detriment of, properly, society.

And following the June 24 Supreme Court docket ruling on abortion, ladies within the US can dispense with any phantasm of freedom of management over their very own our bodies – particularly poor ladies of color, who wouldn’t have the relative socioeconomic freedom to pursue alternate choices that override the reproductive fascism of the state.

Nor are kids within the US free to go to highschool with out having to fret about being mown down by a semi-automatic weapon or different deadly gadget. Recall the case of 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo, a survivor of the Might 24 bloodbath of 19 college students and two academics at Robb Elementary College in Uvalde, Texas. As CNN reported, Cerrillo “feared the gunman would come again for her so she smeared herself in her good friend’s blood and performed lifeless”.

I dare say that’s not what freedom appears to be like like.

This Fourth of July, I’m not “proud to be an American” – and I by no means ought to have been.

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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