However you’re celebrating the birth of America this Fourth of July weekend, we hope you’ll spare a thought for those unfortunates whose enjoyment of our hard-won freedoms is cruelly limited.
We refer not to the indigent or the oppressed, but to rightbloggers whose Independence Day essays show that the blessing for which they are most (not to say exclusively) grateful is the freedom to tell one another what a bunch of traitors their opponents are — an important liberty, to be sure, but, like the freedom to eat as many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups as one can get down, best exercised in moderation lest nausea result.
Their favorite news hook in this regard came, surprisingly, from the world of academia.
In May a couple of professors — one from Bocconi University in Italy, one from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government — reported study results which showed “days without rain on Fourth of July in childhood have lifelong effects. In particular, they shift adult views and behavior in favor of the Republicans and increase later-life political participation.” (That is, “the likelihood that an adult at age 40 identifies as a Republican increases by 0.76 percentage points for each rain-free Fourth of July during childhood, where childhood is defined as the ages of 3-18.”)
This was digested by big media outlets in headlines like “Harvard: July 4th Parades Are Right-Wing” and “GOP’s July 4th Advantage,” and seized upon by rightbloggers as proof that liberals hate parades, barbecues, and America.
“More bad news for President Obama’s 2012 reelection bid,” observed Andrew Malcolm at the L.A. Times. “The left detests all forms of patriotism,” said Weasel Zippers, “if you instill a love of America in a child it’s extremely unlikely they will identify with the Democratic party when they grow up.”
“The notion that conservatives have appropriated notions of American patriotism is questionable,” reacted the Washington Times. “A stronger case can be made that the left abandoned patriotism sometime in the 1960s and never came back to it… Conservatives did not ‘appropriate’ American patriotism; they saw it in the gutter where the left had tossed it, picked it up with reverent hands, and set it standing again.” We marvel the Times did not add that conservatives also brushed off the seat of patriotism’s pants and gave it a few bucks for a cup of coffee.
“It seems Democrats have a patriotism problem after all,” said Ace of Spades. He added “Top Ten Ways Democrats Can Re-‘Appropriate’ July Fourth” — including “4. Serve soy chai lattes at July Fourth parades” and “3. A free bong hits booth at every parade,” suggesting that Democrats patronize Starbucks and smoke weed, showing their immense distance from ordinary Americans.
As no such contretemps is complete without a claim from conservatives that they have been unfairly maligned, Dancing from Genesis claimed the report was written “apparently to snipe at the american conservative cause,” because the “christian message” of Republicans was “anathema to the bibliophobes on the left who dominate the democrat party.”
No citation supporting this claim was offered, but Dancing from Genesis’ refutation was interesting nonetheless:
“But why are they bibliophobes, what do they know or not know to make them so?” they said. “Do they realize that the ice age could have been caused by only a warmer ocean heated from below such as by the fountains of the deep injecting heat during Noah’s Flood? It’s just hydrology 101, yet not admitted by the bibliophobes because that road leads to the Bible, and they can’t have that, nor discussion of such in the public schools now under their control.”
As Olson Johnson said after Gabby Johnson’s peroration in Blazing Saddles: Now who can argue with that?
Red State Report said the study’s “conclusion” was that “Democrats do not get into the 4th of July.” As added evidence they reproduced a list of things Americans spend money on during the Fourth, and commented — we assume playfully — that Democrats don’t enjoy fireworks because these “could hurt somebody and cause injuries. This would put undo pressure on the Obamacare system, which could not handle the additional patient load sure to occur from explosive injuries.” Maybe their readers will take the hint and organize a squad of suicide cherry-bombers who will immolate or maim themselves in order to expose the deficiencies of health care reform. It could become the new Going Galt.
Power Line said, “Are Republicans more patriotic than Democrats? I think so, in general” and, while questioning the study, told parents who wanted to raise rightwing kids that “if it rains on Monday where you live, don’t take any chances. Celebrate the holiday anyway. Set off fireworks in your garage.” Maybe they’re in on Red State Report’s plan! One more citation and it’s a trend.
Meanwhile a firefighters’ union in Racine, Wisconsin declined to support a Fourth of July float run by a colleague — which is understandable, as the colleague had earlier quit and disdained the union. “This was just one of those that we’re taking a hands-off approach to it,” said the local union president. (The union later said it didn’t mind if union firefighters wanted to march with the float.)
The float, which has a 9/11 theme, is scheduled to appear in the parade. But many rightbloggers, apparently still angry about the firefighters’ solidarity with teachers in Wisconsin earlier this year, claimed the union firemen had tried to remove, or even succeeded in removing, the float from the parade, thereby showing the firefighters’ contempt for the Fourth and for the heroes of 9/11.
“Wisconsin Firefighters’ Union Tries to Block Parade Float Honoring 9/11 Victims,” said Christian Schneider at National Review. “Wisconsin Firefighters Union Reportedly Blocks Ex-Member’s 9/11 Tribute Float,” reported/decided Fox News.
“A Wisconsin firefighters union has put the kibosh on including a 9/11 float during a July 4th parade,” said Robert A. George at the New York Post. “So, rather than show their support for the heroes of 9/11,” etc.
“This Independence Day, it’s union first, American second,” intoned Some Guy at RedState. “On September 11, 2001, 2,977 people were killed by terrorists” — we understand that on some browsers, this intro included a MIDI file of Toby Keith songs — “…the terrorists did not care whether those they killed were exclusively American or not, nor did they care whether or not the victims were carrying a union card.”
Some Guy, at least, didn’t claim the union had tried to remove the float, but he more than made up for this in old-fashioned Have You Forgotten gibberish.
“While the IAFF certainly has the right not to support a float honoring the fallen heroes,” Some Guy generously allowed, “it does say a lot about the union’s leadership… On September 11, 2001, 2,977 Americans died. Some of them were union members, many others were not. This begs the question: If a non-union firefighter perishes saving others, does it make him any less of a hero?” The sane person’s answer to this would be, “Who said it did?” or “What?” but there is no evidence that sane people read RedState.
Rightbloggers tired of misrepresenting this parade incident could jump on an exhibit that was removed from a parade: the Jaycees of Palatine, Illinois decided that an anti-abortion group’s banner featuring a fetus with the legend “Respect Life … from Conception ’til Natural Death” was inappropriate for their Fourth of July parade. “Jaycees Ban Free Speech,” yelled Women’s Watch Inc. “Palatine, Illinois Jaycees Reject Child in the Womb,” said Pro-Life Hotline.
“Apparently, when no one was looking, the Jaycees became a pro-Infanticide group,” said Warner Todd Huston at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government. This will come as a shock to readers accustomed to think of the Jaycees as a venerable business education group for young people. “Naturally,” added Huston, “the Jaycees have no problem with a gay and lesbian group’s participation in the parade.”
Other rightbloggers celebrated the Fourth with random gestures of patriotic contempt for their fellow Americans.
“As we celebrate Independence Day, here’s something to needle your liberal friends with (all in good fun, of course),” suggested HenryPatrick1736: “Tell them that the American ‘revolutionaries’ were actually conservatives.” HP1736 cited author Thomas Woods: “In a certain sense, writes Woods, there was no American Revolution at all,” he explained, “but rather a War of Independence in which the Americans threw off British authority in order to retain their traditional liberties… that’s why July 4th is ‘Independence Day,’ not ‘Revolution Day.'” Thomas Jefferson did like to talk about revolution, but he was a proto-commie, and not a true Founder like John Quincy Adams.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, proprietor of Instapundit, told readers of the Washington Examiner, “if you want to email a photo of yourself eating a hotdog to Mayor Bloomberg on July 4, be my guest.” The Mayor of New York would apparently be annoyed by this — though Bloomberg has said that “the hot dog holds a special place in the hearts and stomachs of all New Yorkers,” served hot dogs at his inauguration, and last July treated British PM David Cameron to a feast of hot dogs — because Bloomberg is one of those “nannyists” conservatives are always going on about, and therefore must want to ban everything they enjoy.
“But if you’re looking for ways to make Independence Day a bit more about, well, independence,” said Reynolds, he had other suggestions. First, because “many of the most anti-liberty activities of state and local governments are driven by federal funding — either direct funding, or grants… pro-liberty activists should identify a few and then urge members of Congress to eliminate the funding.”
Also, Independence Day celebrants should “ask tough questions,” e.g., “If your state university is 60 percent female — and many are — why does it still have a Women’s Center that was originally set up to ease the transition when it went coed decades ago?” Another fun Fourth activity: “Cancel your subscriptions to cable TV channels, magazines or newspapers that support big government over individual liberty.”
Reynolds allowed as how his readers could put these things off “until July 5 so as not to interfere with the fireworks, hotdogs and beer,” which should be a relief to all concerned.
Not so lucky were guests of Dennis Prager, who planned for them a “Fourth of July Seder” dedicated to the proposition that “national memory dies without national ritual.” At this event, “the young people (generally ages seven and older)” will be obliged to answer questions, e.g., “Q: Why was America different from all other countries? A: Because in 1776, all countries were based on nationality, religion, ethnicity, or geography. But America was created on the basis of a set of ideas. This is still true today.”
Prager’s stage directions include “Host passes around an American coin and chooses readers from the group to read the following,” and “Host holds up each symbolic item as he explains its symbolic meaning,” for example, “We drink iced tea to remember the Boston Tea Party.” We imagine that if this does not fire the patriotic ardor of Prager’s invitees, it will at least fire their imaginations in their composition of responses to his RSVP.
America’s President was not overlooked. The Looking Spoon, a “satire” site, provided an Xtranormal video in which President Obama told an interlocutor that on Independence Day “Michelle and the girls surprise me with a reenactment of one the great People’s Revolutions in history. After that I raid the federal treasury,” etc.
In fairness, we should mention one of those conservatives who planned something more positive for the Fourth. Rush Limbaugh will appear that day at a rally in recently storm-ravaged Joplin, Missouri. “The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate independence instead of dependence,” said Limbaugh, “and people in Joplin, Missouri are not at all relying on dependence.” NewsMax added that “one of [Limbaugh’s] goals is to point out that storm victims in Joplin are not waiting around for government assistance.”
A press release further explained that Limbaugh will be “bringing along a refrigerated semi-truck of his new product, Two If By Tea™… Twelve packs of 16 oz. bottles of Two If By Tea™, in regular and raspberry flavors, are available for $23.76, with shipping costs included for delivery in the continental United States.”
Ain’t that America, for you and me? Happy Fourth, fellow citizens.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 4, 2011