July 4th usually sparks a surge in patriotism, even among those of us not much given to flag-waving or overt displays of a belief in America as a force for good. I think America has been a force for good: the Marshall Plan, for example. I think we also have a mixed and complicated legacy in Central America, in the Middle East, in Viet Nam, in a host of other countries.
I honestly have a hard time this year ginning up much enthusiasm for July 4th. It’s not so much a question of how bad things are with Trump in the White House — they’re bad and worsening. Things like the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, or the devastation the majority white culture visited on Native American families, were historical to me — I didn’t live through them. I never thought we’d return to those kinds of policies during my lifetime. Yet here we are, wreaking devastation on desperately poor and frightened families approaching our border from Central America. I feel a profound sense of shame, and futility, and anger.
The dampening of my patriotic feelings this July 4th isn’t about how bad things are, but about how long it will take to turn back the ugliness unleashed by Trump and smugly supported by his followers. We’ve come a long way since the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s, but I don’t have another 50 years to participate in things turning back around. In the long term I believe, I hope, that the country will recover its soul. But it’s not going to happen today, or tomorrow, or soon.
We’re having a pool day here, and brother in law Ron is grilling later on, and we’ll have a lovely time. I’m grateful for family, and friends, and for the many blessings in my life. But I won’t be waving any flags or celebrating my country or expressing pride in our democratic system — not when it elevates a dumpster fire like Trump to the highest office in the land.