Friday, July 04, 2008

The 4th of July

July 4. An emotional holiday for most Americans, stirring lots of different emotions. In my family, it was the one holiday where my parents didn’t fight. My father would recount for us the history of the Revolutionary War, my mother would make the custard for ice cream; we’d all take part in freezing it in the hand-turned ice cream maker, and we’d have a picnic supper with family and friends. We’d listen to my folks’ old 78’s of Paul Robeson singing “” and then set off fireworks.

These days, it’s harder to feel celebratory. The Supremes have decided that the only part of the Bill of Rights worth keeping and expanding is the 2nd Amendment. Yes! We can all carry handguns! We can create the armed state so many Americans have dreamed of for so long. Our rights to free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from unwarranted search, our rights to privacy and equal protection under the laws are sorely diminished, but I guess we can all now shoot our way out of trouble.

And speaking of shooting our way out of trouble, with oil markets in turmoil, with the economy tanking, with 60,000 Iraqi soldiers dead or wounded and 30,000 U.S. soldiers in the same sad state, with the military unable to meet recruitment targets except by admitting gang members and the functionally illiterate, the U.S. is once more on the brink of war with Iran.

A year ago, Dick Cheney wanted desperately to start bombing Iran, but the Joint Chiefs told him the U.S. didn’t have the resources to carry on the war that would ensue. Now, he’s rattling the cage again. When Congress gets back from its July 4 recess, members will vote on Joint Resolution 362, urging Bush to use all means to stop Iran from doing whatever it’s doing. Iran may be a worrying Middle East threat, but do we really want to blow up the whole Middle East and our own people and economy in the process? Give it some thought. If you want to phone or fax your representative, this handy website gives their names and numbers.

Have a happy 4th. Eat ice cream. Enjoy your gun. Don’t say anything on the phone you don’t want Cheney to hear.

Sara Paretsky


Libby said...

I agree with everything you say, Sara. We have so many issues to resolve to regain our pride in being Americans.

But I just got back from a parade in one of the suburbs, complete with high school marching bands, floats, and firetrucks with klaxons blaring... and I was struck by how happy and excited everyone seemed just to be there, whether they were part of the parade or not. I kept thinking things couldnt be so bad if we still enjoy gathering together for these seminal events, however corny and hokey they are.

Baseball games too. If they ever stop broadcasting on the radio, I'll know the country is doomed.

I must be feeling idealistic today, but maybe there's a way to harness all that good cheer and energy to redress some of our problems.

Lesa said...

I agree with you, too, Sara, and that's already doomed me. I commented on your book, Writing in an Age of Silence, on my blog, so I'm probably already being watched.

But, Happy Independence Day, anyways. Let's just hope we can keep the independence. We're not doing a very good job of it at the moment.

Violette Severin said...

what do you think about this: Atlanta has a new ordinance that took effect on July 1 allowing concealed weapons to be carried at any place of public accommodation, including the MARTA public transportation system. The big problem is that MARTA travels into the Hartsfield International Airport. Someone could actually be inside the airport with a gun but still be on Atlanta property. The Mayor has vowed to arrest anyone near the airport with a gun and a city council member has vowed to sue her if she does this. Stayed tuned to your news station coz this is sure to explode soon.

Sara Paretsky said...

Violette, I think we live in very strange times. However, now that Barack has announced a commitment to expanding the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, maybe we can pray our way out of trouble.

the Bag Lady said...

Gosh, makes me glad to be Canadian.
Our government has wasted some 4.5 billion dollars with their gun restriction laws, and have only succeeded in making criminals out of honest citizens.
"Register your guns", they cry! I have total faith in the idea that every criminal and hopped-up, whacked-out addict has rushed right down to the nearest government office and registered every gun he owns.
In the meantime, some poor farmer who has grandpa's squirrel rifle lying forgotten in the rafters of his barn is now a criminal because he hasn't registered it.

Seems that neither of our governments are doing much to solve the issue of gun violence, although the Canadian government seems to be doing a slightly better job of lip service. Sorta.