7.01.2005

Happy Birthday America

We Americans like to think that freedom everywhere is because of us. Sure it’s an unrealistic way of thinking, but it’s not entirely untrue either. Since the end of WWII Americans have been taught that they did no less than save the world. The effects of that Second Great War, however, did no less than create this modern world.

It is hard to acknowledge the birth of America without mentioning Europe. Likewise, it’s hard to mention the imperialistic spread of freedom throughout Europe without acknowledging America. The thought of that same spread of freedom that used to inspire people to tear down giant walls with nothing more than hammers; or to stand unrelenting in front of oncoming tanks; or to cross vast bodies of water on overcrowded ships, nowadays makes most people squirm with aversion. Why such a change?

229 years ago this country was born with the belief that all men are created equal. We all know those words meant land owning white men and nothing less. Look where we are today. This republic of ours, as imperfect as it has always been, was designed with nothing more than a dream, but it was a dream with so much promise. Jefferson first coined that dream in the Declaration of Independence. It’s a dream that has not relinquished to this very day.

For the fourth Independence Day in a row America is at war. It’s not the first time that this has happened and it probably won’t be the last. Yet this dream that freedom is a birthright has been borrowed the world over. To think that people everywhere if given the choice would not want to rule themselves is probably as incorrect as to think that democracy imposed from the outside is also a value of that dream. To dream small with the American Dream is as wrong as dreaming too big.

America has been the lone pillar of promoting the democratic rule of people in this world. Despite all those who claim that this new form of “imperialism” is as wrong as the centuries worth of European colonialism, please name one country that has guaranteed democracy to so many people more than America has. Our grandest examples are Europe and Japan. Those are the standard at which all other American interventions are measured. As unfair as that might be, it is nevertheless the American standard.

Today the people of Iraq want to dream too. The dream that shook off our own chains of tyranny is now in Iraq waiting for the moment of calm so that they all may rest and finally dream.

Michael Ignatieff, in his essay “Who Are Americans to Think That Freedom Is Theirs to Spread?,” says it as clear as possible: “Who else is available to sponsor liberty in the Middle East but America? Certainly the Europeans themselves have not done a very distinguished job defending freedom close to home.”

It was our soldiers then too in Europe who fought and died to defend freedom “for strangers.” It is our soldiers today that fight and die in Iraq to defend freedom for a different set of strangers. “There is nothing worse than believing your son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother died in vain. Even those who have opposed the Iraq war all along, who believe that the hope of planting democracy has lured America into a criminal folly, do not want to tell those who have died that they have given their lives for nothing. This is where Jefferson’s dream must work.”

Happy Birthday America. And thank you to all our men and women in uniform, you have dreamed more than any of us. Never, ever quit dreaming.

14 comments:

CaliValleyGirl said...

Man, MJ...sometimes I like you so much, I hate you.

Chris said...

Is that good or bad?

Craig said...

At least for one day, it is great that we as Americans can put behind us the petty words we speak and focus on the good that our nation has offered to all.

However, that in no means lessens the importance that our founders had in allowing us the freedoms to voice our opinions, to fight amongst ourseleves in the hope and dream that out of those differences, those battles, those wars of words that the dream would continue to burn.

Happy fourth my friend, set off a bottle rocket for me.

Gun-Toting Liberal said...

MJ; that was purely awesome, man! Happy Independence Day Weekend, sir. Blog ON...

Whymrhymer said...

MJ,

A beautiful post!

Happy Independence Day!

Alice: In Wonderland or Not said...

This was a great post and I agree.
I'm glad your out there writing.

Markkind said...

Maybe it's because I just got home from War of the Worlds and I'm still a little shook but this made me a little teary eyed. Well done MJ.

There's so much crap being thrown back and forth on the blogosphere that to find that rare jewel such as this column is truly a heartening experience.

Unadulterated Underdog said...

Good post. It's nice to see you supporting our troops in an honest, real way. I walk a fine line of supporting the invasion of Iraq while not the methods and ideologies employed to bring it to fruition. It's a lonely road but patriots are willing to make the hard choice sometimes when the honor of their nation is at stake. That was one heck of a good post there and a more than suitable HAPPY B-DAY card for America. Cheers and happy blogging my friend!

Promoter said...

Freedom my foot if freedom is what you call “your cause”. You’ve said, “Today the people of Iraq want to dream too”. Hell no we don’t want to dream we want to live, because in the dreams, we see this dreamers who want us to dream, Punching, slapping, and kicking HUMAN BEINGS; jumping on their naked feet; Videotaping and photographing naked HUMAN BEINGS; Forcibly arranging HUMAN BEINGS in various sexually explicit positions for photographing; Forcing human beings to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time; Forcing naked male to wear women’s underwear; Forcing groups of HUMAN BEINGS to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped; Arranging naked HUMAN BEINGS in a pile and then jumping on them; Positioning a naked HUMAN BEING on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture; Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked HUMAN BEING'S (male) neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture; Taking photographs of dead Iraqis. And the like. And the most despicable of all is tearing up and throwing to dirt A HOLY BOOK.

Look pal, WE DO NOT WANT YOUR FUCKING FREEDOM. It sucks

Happy torturer’s day.

Craig said...

Hey promoter,

Good job in selecting a bunch or mentally preverse people in which to classify us all. I guess because you are Arab, that we should run out and expel all Arab's from our country. I mean, by your logic, a select few speak for all. Right?

By the way, lover the name, truth-promoter, maybe you should live up to it!

Unadulterated Underdog said...

Promoter, I'm assuming that you are an Iraqi. Would you rather we had left your nation to Saddam? Maybe he didn't test enough chemical weapons on his people yet to wet your taste?

Anyhow...
Happy Birthday America! Happy 229th!

Promoter said...

Dear OKDemocrat, What Chemical weapons are you talking bout? Now we are not going back to proving if there were any “WMD” because there were not any. Remember UN Chief Inspector Hans Blix had already made it very clear to the Security Council that, in his view, Iraq no longer possessed any long-range Scud missiles, nor any viable chemical or biological weapons. By the time American-British-Australian invasion forces had cluster-bombed their way to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, this first reality had become became self-evident that the war was not about this staff you are calling was a treat to the US or as you’ve put it nothing was going to be tested on no one Iraqi. Well the “Dowing Street Memo” …….. I dono you may say it is a fake but me I think those butchers had it in their mind long before……….. ok you know the crap they put forward to justify the war.

And a clear answer to your question, if it is better that “you” left Iraq as it were under that bull “Saddam Hussein” would you have preferred it? Well we have to see what came after him; hey I’m looking at my country “IT IS WORSE”. I’m sure I read somewhere that the cost of life is greater after you invaded Iraq than Hussein’s time. Ok What I want to pass as a piece information is that no body in the middle east wants US now, because they have seen’em in Iraq and believe me they choose not to have intruders and at the same time PREFER to have the DICTATORS (over US).

Dear Craig, you are right, we need not label the whole nation “under a bunch of mentally perverse people” but what I wanted to say is that under the name of “Freedom and Democracy” We see these things and as I have put it clearly we don’t want it this way. Sorry if I offended you because I can feel that you are pretty sure that these guys did a very inhuman thing and you sure don want to be labeled with their kind.

You know what the problem is? It is that your country, the United States thinks she knows what is best for others”. Who Are Americans to Think That “THEY KNOW EVERYTHING” and that their system is the only feasible one? All I want to say is that it is too much that you guys stick your nose in others business.

Chris said...

Thanks to all my sappy readers :)

Promoter, it's not even evident that you are Iraqi or Arab. If you are, I'm glad to have an Iraqi reader, since most of this site concerns Iraq.

First, I would invite you to read other posts on this site. You will see then that I do argue that Iraq is not what we were promised and that Iraq is far from democratic and free. Bush ignores some very important aspects of the second reality in Iraq.

You will also see that I berate Bush many times, seemingly constantly, about all his blunders in this war. Bush will have to own up to his mistakes, whether he wants to admit to them or not.

The insurgency in Iraq must be stopped by the Iraqi people. It is your country. I agree we did allow your country to slip into chaos, and more people are dying now than when Saddam was in power. So, once again, this is your country to save.

But that dream is there Promoter, and you know it is.

Thanks for reading.

And, again, thanks to everyone else for reading and commenting. I'm glad you all liked it.

CaliValleyGirl said...

Oh my God, MJ! You've officially made it. Billy Joel said: you know you're successful when you get sued for the first time. And if you are a blogger, you know you've made it, when you get your first anonymous troll comment.