Independence Day is the worst of America's joyless national celebrations, the day when everyone will predictably act like a buffoon and nobody has the decency to Opt Out. From Park Slope to Silver Lake, from Phoenix to Saint Paul, the whole nation of grudge-laden bores will wrap themselves in the old Red, White and Blue in another futile attempt to out-patriot their enemies.
That's all it's about, the modern Independence Day: a grudge match. Like the cable news channels in their zero-sum arms race to cover the entire screen with billowing flag graphics, Fourth of July sects seize this annual opportunity to wrap their various banal causes in a suffocating Old Glory blanket.
In San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, victorious in the gay-marriage sweepstakes just in time for the entire neighborhood to be recolonized by same-sex couples who take the Google shuttle and make six figures each, the American flag will fly from every bar and every million-dollar condo unit cut out of a rehabbed Victorian. A few banners will combine the rainbow flag with the one blamed on that talentless old hag Betsy Ross, but the message will fly with all of them: Gay people are super patriotic. Why, they're more patriotic than straight people, especially straight people who worry a lot about gay people.
Roasting in the heartland, reliably Republican towns will dress up their faded, abandoned Main Streets for an annual ritual aping Disneyland's summer parade and fireworks, minus the fun. Hulking tract-home people with skin the color of Costco precooked shrimp will bivouac at curbside with their monstrous ice chests and drink-holding chairs beneath portable canopies. They will cheer wildly for the military bands and overbearing military vehicles, because what would these towns be without the military hiring the otherwise unemployable heartland teenagers?
And in those unloved old commercial districts and inner-ring suburbs where the Spanish speakers or other recent immigrants have built new lives, expect to see just as many American flags and 99-cent-store bunting. Here, the goal is to prove the newcomers are no threat at all, because they're also good old hard-working American Families trying to do the right thing, using Capitalism and Freedom.
The rich make sure to be extra patriotic on the Fourth, even as they transfer ever bigger chunks of their massive wealth to offshore tax havens. The media, in full moronic masturbation mode, will roll out a torrent of straight-faced utter bullshit the likes of which you'll never see outside of a presidential nominating convention at a sports arena. Every industry and every banal cause will be draped in the Stars and Stripes, because since 9/11 it is basically illegal to be unpatriotic. Even the very few people with some guts, like the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, claims to be a patriot.
Everyone celebrating the Fourth of July is an idiot. Never have so many ninnies and cretins rallied 'round the old flag. They all learned—liberal and labor unionist and abortionist and marijuana addict—that if you just stand before a giant flag like Patton, you can basically get away with anything. The right has always known this, and for a long time they had the con to themselves. When the country was visibly falling apart, in the crushing horror of the early 1980s, Ronald Reagan's handlers just put out a commercial saying "It's Morning In America." Between that and picking a new unemployment metric that would show half as many jobless, the Reagan Revolution proved you can do absolutely anything in this country of dummies by simply saying things are different now.
And if anyone gives you any guff? Just stand in front of the flag and announce that they're part of the problem, not the solution. These are basic Berkeley militant tactics adopted wholesale by the right. Think about it: Militant is the worst kind of slur Republicans have invented for gays, blacks, unions, Mexican grape-pickers living alongside the pesticide ditches and giving birth to clover-headed stillborns, etc. Guess who never gets hit with the "militant" slur? The military. And what did the military have that leftists and sodomists didn't? Lots and lots of American Flags, that's what. And so the Fourth of July became a day for every subculture and lobbying interest to join a retro-patriotic parade.
What's most pathetic about this parading beneath the Stars and Stripes is that the whole method was parodied in a 1978 movie about degenerate college life in 1962. Here, from Animal House, you will see the first documented use of the brazenly cynical patriotism ploy. That the film was fiction only makes it more honest in this respect:
This is known as the "Otter Defense." It didn't even work in the movie, but it works extremely well in real life, where people are even dumber. This is not patriotism, it's Hatetriotism. And such self-serving flag waving in the service of your specific cause is even slimier than the supermarkets and car lots, which openly exist to sell you something.
The actual day is meaningless. It meant nothing to the authors of the Declaration of Independence—John Adams thought July 2 would be marked for celebration, as that's when the 13 colonies agreed to formally separate from the British Empire. Yet Adams and his alleged co-authors, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, conspired in later years to lie about signing the Declaration on July 4, even though it's now widely known that the document was signed a month later, in August. Like early-day Paula Deens melting beneath their powdered wigs, these people lied about everything and kept the black servants dressed in costumes.
Today, 237 years since that cursed piece of paper launched a war that killed 50,000, formalized the genocide of indigenous Americans, and locked African slaves into another century of bondage, the Declaration is still little more than a casserole of Enlightenment tropes dumped over the money grudges of the One Percent. You never hear about the British leading the global campaign against slavery, to pick a morally correct cause of the 18th Century, because they got over themselves once their whole global empire crumbled. But along with the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration has been the subject of more infantile modern-day nationalistic nonsense than all the rest of the world's legal structures combined.
But that's not the news here, because the news is that this is all for nothing. In 2013, it should be more clear than ever that we live in a Planetary Administrative District of the corporate surveillance superstate, no more and no less. In another hundred years, the Fourth of July will be as emotionally empty and sparsely celebrated as May Day is now. "Earth Day" will likely replace it, not as an ecological feel-good occasion to litter up a park with sports drink cans but as tribal solidarity … against them, whoever and whatever they are, the robots or the Asteroid Farmers or the Moon People.
[Photo via Getty Images.]