By Jim Bennett
Daily Review Atlas
My Independence Day was almost ruined by an editorial entitled “Why I Don’t Celebrate July 4,” by Matthew Rothschild. He’s the editor of “The Progressive,” a journal for those who classify Noam Chomsky as a moderate.
Rothschild sees the Fourth as a “mindless patriotic bubble bath we’re all supposed to soak in all weekend long.” It’s too provincial and unsophisticated for him.
Well, that shows what he knows. Like most Americans, I marked the occasion with an air of reverent dignity, enjoying the understated traditions that make it so special:
5 a.m.: Dressed in my Uncle-Sam-on-stilts costume, I joined the other 137 members of the Uncle-Sam-on-Stilts Club on the courthouse lawn for our annual re-enactment of the entire Revolutionary War from start to finish. (It was my turn to portray John Paul Jones; you have no idea how hard it was to capture the HMS Serapis while balanced on two eight-foot-tall wooden beams, all while rocking the bass line to “The Lemon Song.”)
5:10 a.m.: Breakfast of gluten-free jonnycakes in town square.
5:30 a.m.: Returned home to awaken the children with musket fire and assemble them in the driveway for another rousing reading of The Federalist Papers.
10:30 a.m.: Church service. In lieu of my usual sermon, I simply stood in the pulpit, waved a Gadsden flag, and sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” through a bullhorn.
Noon: Picnic in the churchyard, featuring the time-honored rock-paper-scissors
tournament in honor of General Rochambeau. As is our custom, the winner received the title of “noose-bearer” for George III’s hanging-in-effigy and got first crack at the Cornwallis piñata.
It seemed like the perfect end to a perfect morning: After the Baron Von Steuben look-alike contest, I headed for the parsonage to rest up for even classier events that evening. Unfortunately, that’s when I happened across Rothschild’s essay and my red American blood was brought to a rolling boil.
“My heart does not beat faster at the strains of the Star Spangled Banner,” Rothschild writes, “much less at the sight of F-16s flying overhead to kick off the show.”
Now, it’s really not the perceived tackiness of our celebratory conventions that bothers him, nor is it the phenomenon of patriotism itself. Truth be told, Rothschild might just as well have stood in a schoolyard, chanting, “Conservatives go to Jupiter to get more stupider! Liberals go to college to get more knowledge!”
I’d venture that his rant is more a response to some new research than it is to patriotism itself. At the very least, it’s a validation of it: A new USA Today/Gallup survey reveals that 48 percent of conservatives describe themselves as “extremely patriotic.” Only 19 percent of liberals would make such a gauche claim.
He writes that patriotism (meaning, of course, “conservatism”) is “the father of nationalism,” and “nationalism is but the egg that hatches fascism.” An intellectually honest survey of the historical landscape reveals the true pattern, however:
Liberalism is collectivism’s pappy, and fascism is the rotten egg laid by the vulture of collectivism. Marxists, Maoists, and Stalinists all start with the favorite pastimes of “progressives”:
1. Foment class conflict through inflammatory rhetoric.
2. Bully entrepreneurs with confiscatory taxation and legislative coercion.
3. “Redistribute” co-opted wealth to grow bloated government programs, establishing an epidemic of addiction to the udder of entitlement.
4. Disarm the populace.
Placing fascism at the conservative end of the political spectrum is ridiculous. Fascism requires the biggest of governments because it must exert extraordinary control over the populace. Regulatory intrusion into the lives of citizens is now, and always has been, the delight of liberals. A true conservative is devoted to the shrinking of government in order to advance the freedoms of each individual.
On the night of the Fourth, my family and I sat by the ball field in Cameron and watched in delighted awe as the world’s only atomic fireworks display punched scorching holes through the mesosphere. I realized then that I should give Rothschild some grace. After all, I had enjoyed advantages he lacked. He was raised by liberal activist parents in the affluence of Highland Park, while my folks brought me up in the family business in Monmouth. When he was studying Marx at Harvard, I was learning arithmetic from Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Bobby Dunlap, hero of Iwo Jima. And Rothschild’s first real job was working for Ralph Nader, while mine was working for Marine Corps Commandant Al Gray.
With an underprivileged background like that, should it really surprise us that Matthew Rothschild lives in the greatest nation in the world but sees nothing to celebrate?
Jim Bennett is the pastor of Rozetta Baptist Church in rural Henderson County.
To read Rothschild’s column visit: http://www.progressive.org/wx070310.html