Culture Politics

Happy 4th of July, I Guess


It’s no secret that I harbor a ton of unpopular opinions.

Here: the 4th of July is the worst of all holidays. While it’s not utterly, completely shameful or thoroughly useless, it’s just way too close. And there aren’t any presents involved!

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, it’s the worst day for fatal car crashes. That’s not good. Forty percent of all highway deaths from 2007 to 2011 were on the 4th of July and related to drunk driving. Pair that with all the amateur pyrotechnicians. Shooting fireworks is an act that many continue with recklessness yet need approach with care and safety or maybe — hear me out on this one — not at all. The statistics related to fireworks in the month of July and firework-related injuries makes a case for stupidity at play. And yeah, they’re pretty, albeit redundant after the first two minutes. Fireworks are annoying as shit. They’re too loud. They’re destructive to the ecosystem. They frighten the innocent of our world, such as animals, pets, and sleeping babies. We even have to put out announcements for people to tag their pets in case they run away during the night because of all the loud noises.

It’s often uncomfortably hot. We even have a saying for it in the South. I wish I had a nickel for every time that someone said that it was “hotter than the 4th of July.” They’re right. It’s bad. Climate change offers no respite. It’s expected to reach 90 degrees for the first time in Anchorage, Alaska this week. Great.

Sometime between when I was a kid and now, competitive eating became a staple for the Fourth. Look, competitive eating is gross. Not only that but it’s also a disgrace. It’s only a first-world country that could possibly imagine such an event where the person who eats the most wins. In other places, that’s called surviving. parade

Now there’s this year, specifically. The president has not only highjacked funds for improvements for the National Park Service to ensure that he has his weird, little-dicked, military show-off but now it has turned into such a political spectacle rather than any sort of united celebration; it’s shifted into a perfect opportunity for his base to criticize (wrongfully) anyone who doesn’t support that particular type of useless government spending to being un-American. Nice move. It’s also quite the authoritarian figure display of power. Seems chill, I guess?

Lastly, this is the day where the United States of America celebrates freedom from the British and the continued liberties we still possess. But to be truly free and or to enjoy all of this American life, its glories, you really have to be an upper-class, white male. Not a minority. Not a female. Not even lower- or lower-middle class dudes can enjoy it to the fullest, as we should all know by now that the American Dream — that idea that working hard eschews upward mobility — is little more than a lower-case “d” dream. It’s actually a joke. How free is that, exactly?

I get it. The United States is still a wonderful, joyous place. That it isn’t is not what I’m implying. I’d rather not be anywhere else in the world and I’m fully cognizant that without such a country (or maybe one like it), I wouldn’t even be able to state such a ludicrous and dumb idea that one of our national holidays is a bit on the silly side.

I’m not criticizing the country. Or maybe I am. Just because something’s great, doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

John Adams once wrote to Abigail Adams concerning the Fourth that he was “apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Pump the fucking brakes, Adams. First of all, I don’t even know what “Shews” are. Second, I doubt seriously you had in mind slaves enjoying all them goodies, so who’s to say it’s all set in stone anyway.

No one’s foolish for taking it all in, either. Enjoy it if you want: have the Fourth and its fireworks and noise and chest thumping and its heat and hot dogs. I don’t begrudge anyone’s happiness or enjoyment.

Besides, I like getting presents. Halloween’s candy and Christmas’s gift cards will be here before you know it.

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