twilight of the Republic

July 4, 2022: The last or the first?

July 4, 2022

    I was five years old when the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation  illegal. I was 15 when the Civil Rights Act guaranteed the rights of citizenship regardless of race, color or creed, and 16 when the Voting Rights Act could not restrict the right to vote regardless as well. I was 24 when the Court ruled women had a constitutional right to privacy, and meant states could not restrict a woman’s right to their own bodies. I am 73 now and alive to see all these fundamental rights, along with several others, being routinely denied by the same institution that had once affirmed them all. This is why, this year, I’m leaving the country on July 4th, perhaps the first birthday of a country of which I am no longer familiar.

   Celebrate what? That I’ve lived long enough to see all the aspirations of this country erode and then die before my eyes. Of course white supremacy was always the founding principle of the Constitution, but as “we the people,” we are empowered to make this country rise above our base prejudices, and progressively build a nation that ensures we are committed to the proposition that “all men [ and women] are created equal.”

Why are we celebrating a country that doesn’t even rise to that of a North Korea any longer?

   We haven’t come close. Almost 250 years later, we are nearer to the slave-trading empire from which we were spawned than the enlightened republic we believed ourselves to be.

   There is nothing to celebrate on this 4th of July except for shame. We have gone from believing we would build the City on the Hill, to celebrating constructing a Tower of Babel of greed and hatred.

   There are two kinds of Americans who will wave their flags and march in their parades today. There are those who believe Nazi Germany was an ideal country and they hope America will emulate it. And there’s the rest of us, waving a limp flag, and hoping against hope that something good could still come of it all.

   I’m doing neither. I’m flying to France today, and thinking about asylum.

   If you think I’m an American hater, you’d be wrong. I love the America that never existed, the one my parents, teachers and political leaders lied to convince me it existed. It was all bullshit, and I’ve been trying to clean their buillshit off me to this day.

   Is America truly going to deny in this 21st century that Critical Race Theory is an exact representation of how this country grew and succeeded? And that guns are the safest way to protect our life? And that it’s perfectly okay for leaders to choose their voters, instead of the other way around? Where the only fundamental right of a woman (or a girl, for that matter) is to bear children? Why are we celebrating a country that doesn’t even rise to that of a North Korea any longer?

   I’m not anti-American. I’m against the America that has been at the heart of this white supremacist country since its inception. The America that’s poised now to become the truly racist autocracy that a rich and powerful minority has always dreamed itself of ushering in.

   There’s always been a countervailing progressive and, I believe, majoritarian force that can still build a country on the ideals stated in the Declaration and the Constitution, regardless of how they’ve been continually subverted by a regressive and repressive minority. I’ve lived to see the worst of what this country is capable of; I don’t expect to live long enough to see the best it can do.

   I might sing the Marseillaise in Paris on July 14. That will have to do.

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