Wednesday, July 04, 2012

National Beer and Fireworks Day

Technically, there’s no irony in celebrating Independence Day, regardless of the day-by-day deterioration of our personal liberties. The United States is still an independent country, save for a Gordian Knot of foreign entanglements and a future of debt slavery to China and Japan. (That’s sarcasm, not irony.) But Independence Day has traditionally been a celebration of freedom, and that’s where the irony lies. 

Tax Freedom Day is officially April 17, but now that The Supremes have declared “Affordable Health Care” a tax, all bets are off. Tax Freedom Day will surely continue its inexorable march forward in the calendar, until we are (ironically) celebrating our tax freedom on July Fourth. Of course, the date no longer matters. Tax Freedom Day does not account for the national debt, so our obligations to the federal government pretty much cover our lifetimes. 

Independence Day still has historical significance. We can still celebrate our independence from Great Britain some 230 years ago, but why? In those intervening years, we’ve created our own King George, only this time he’s not on another continent. He’s electronically connected to our computers, jobs, health care, travel, finances and private lives. This is a power that King George never imagined in his wildest monarchical fantasies. 

Until Americans once again declare their independence from a ruling class that is guilty of a “long train of abuses and usurpations,” Independence Day is nothing but a running joke. And a painful irony.

But anyone can use a day off. So I propose that the day remain a holiday, but that it be renamed to accommodate the variety of meanings and activities that people attribute to July Fourth.  

“Traditional” Americans will celebrate National Beer and Fireworks Day, in which people enjoy their inalienable right to barbecue, drink 12-packs and blow themselves up with illegal explosives. There will be Cultural Independence Day, in which the glories of multiculturalism are proclaimed in a babel of languages, and uninvited WASPS are swatted away from the fruit salad.  

Fox News will hold their annual Patriot (Act) Day, an expanded, holiday version of their usual greased-liberal catching contest and dunk-the-Muslim-in-the-tank waterboarding festivities. 

PBS will run its usual “Independence Day?” programming, in which Thomas Jefferson is pilloried for writing the words “all men are created equal” while being a slave owner. (A fair criticism, and certainly ironic, but about as relevant today as independence from Britain.) 

In the city centers, free spirits and the homeless will celebrate “Occupy in Dependence Day,” in which anti-capitalists converge on “public” property and demand their fair share from the 1%. Drum circles provide the backdrop for calls for “affordable” housing and “free” healthcare, subsidies for medical marijuana, and government jobs for street poets and performance artists. (Ironically, of course, the 1% are far out of earshot in their upstate gated mansions: barbecuing, sipping Balvenie and shooting off derivative trades in Asian markets from their iPhones.)

Of course, there’s no holiday for politicians. They’ll be slaving away at media-saturated events: kissing babies, eating funnel cake, and celebrating independence from reality, just like any other day. 

Me, I’m grateful for the day off. But all this irony is giving me a headache. I think I’ll have a few beers and shoot off some fireworks.