Star Spangled Fantasy

It is the burden of life to be many ages/without seeing the end of time.” Jim Harrison

Another 4th of July. Life, liberty and the pursuit of property and profit. We hold these truths to be self-evident (for white men). The many myths of America, shining city on the hill, beacon of freedom, cradle of liberty, welcoming arms for huddled masses from every corner of the globe. Rockets red glare. Dawn’s early light. Remember the Maine! Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My Lai. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. The reality withers the myth like the burning sun shrivels the Pacific Northwest. Un-American you say, love it or leave it, Commie-Pinko-Socialist-Liberal. Get out if you don’t believe that America is the greatest country in the world, if you refuse to acknowledge the essential goodness of the people who inhabit this blessed nation. We’re №1!

America is a Land of Lies and Fantasy. Our history is littered with reverence for ignorance and fear. We avoid staring Truth in the face the same way Superman avoids kryptonite. We can’t accept or reconcile our long history of racism, violence, genocide, and destruction of our forests, rivers, lakes, and mountains because not enough of us have the courage to acknowledge the truth. We prefer to divide into our camps, red and blue, liberals and conservatives, the woke versus the Trumpian Zombies, and ride our fairy tales over the edge. After all these years and all the trauma, millions of white Americans can’t let go of the notion that there is something inherently inferior about black people. Am I alone in thinking that America is a madhouse, an air-conditioned nightmare as Henry Miller called it back in the 1940’s?

The foundation is cracked and crumbling. Tears fall from the eyes of Lady Liberty, splash into the roiling waters of New York harbor. Huddled masses yearning to breathe free are no longer welcome here. The Republican Party is as conformist and sclerotic as the Communist Party was in the old Soviet Union, as adverse to facts and logic, reason and evidence. America is a fearful nation, not a confident one. Mainstream Democrats put up limp resistance, compromised as they are by corporate cash. The Supreme Court is ruled by political operatives in dark robes. As a country we’re not prepared for the coming crisis; there’s too much disunity and distrust within our borders, too much blatant celebration of our ignorance, fanned by Trump and his many enablers and imitators. Fire and flood and drought and famine are in our future, but we ignore the warning signs and dig ourselves in deeper.

Raise Old Glory and aim your fireworks into the night sky. It’s Independence Day in the indispensable nation. We’re №1, remember?

Brian Tanguay writes about politics, culture, and books. Co-founder of the California Review of Books and the long running blog, Shouts from the Balcony.