Thoughts About the Fourth

by on July 4, 2010 · 6 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Culture, History, War and Peace


OB Fireworks - July 4, 2009. Photo by Jeff Stone.

Here are some views on celebrating the Fourth of July.

Put Away the Flags

Remembering Howard Zinn on the 4th

howard-zinnby Howard Zinn / The Progressive / Re-posted July 2, 2010 (Originally published 2006)

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism — that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder — one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking — cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on — have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours — huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction — what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.

Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.

That self-deception started early.

When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession.”

For the remainder of this article, go here.

America Is a Work In ProgressFourth of July 1776, 1964, 2010

By Frank Rich / New York Times / July 2, 2010

ALL men may be created equal, but slavery, America’s original sin of inequality, was left unaddressed in the Declaration of Independence signed 234 years ago today. Of all the countless attempts to dispel that shadow over the nation’s birth, few were more ambitious than the hard-fought bill Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law just in time for another Fourth of July, 46 summers ago.

With the holiday weekend approaching, Johnson summoned the television networks for the signing ceremony on Thursday evening, July 2. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, first proposed more than a year earlier by John F. Kennedy, banished the Jim Crow laws that denied black Americans access to voting booths, public schools and public accommodations. Johnson told the nation we could “eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved country” with the help of a newly formed “Community Relations Service” and its “advisory committee of distinguished Americans.” Talk about an age of innocence!

Still, there were some heartening reports….

For the remainder of this article, go here.

Happy 4th ! Patriotic Food for Thought From San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice

Go here for the Patriotic Food for Thought.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

annagrace July 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Norb- I did not know the information you provided. We the citizens are also works in progress. Thanks for contributing to the progress!


Norb MacLean III July 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Happy Independence Day from down under. As I read the above post from my home in Sydney (Australia) I cannot help but think of a serious inequity in law since the birth of the United States.

The brave young American men and women who serve in military uniform around the globe do not enjoy equal access to the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) should they be convicted by courts-martial. The phrase “Equal Justice Under the Law” engraved into SCOTUS’ building does not apply to our military personnel.

Most citizens are unaware that since 1789 – the year SCOTUS was established – a little known inequity in federal law which prevents many court-martialed servicemembers from ever accessing the high court. To those uniform citizens the Supreme Court simply does not exist. But believe it or not, illegal aliens and enemy combatants enjoy SCOTUS access. I cannot reconcile how enemies and illegal aliens can freely petition our highest court in the land while the young men and women who serve our country risking their lives to protect and defend us are shut out.

The Supreme Court may review only those cases out of the Court of Appeals in which one of the following circumstances applies: (1) The defendant could receive the death
penalty. (2) The case was certified to the Court of Appeals by the judge advocate general for review. (3) The appeals court granted the accused’s petition for review. (4) Or the appeals court otherwise granted relief to the accused.

The above looks like a robust review – but it’s not. The death penalty is not on the table in most cases. The judge advocate general does not certify many cases for review—and when he does, this almost always benefits the government, not the servicemember. The Court of Appeals only rarely otherwise grants relief. Most of the time, a convicted servicemember can hope to reach the high court only if he can first show good cause to persuade the Court of Appeals to grant his petition for review. The Court of Appeals declines to hear about 90 percent of cases, so about 90 percent of court-martialed servicemembers are completely sealed off from the Supreme Court. For those servicemembers, the high court simply does not exist.

Conversely, if that servicemember does manage to get his case before the Court of Appeals and then prevails, the government is permitted to appeal the decision to the
Supreme Court. And therein lies the inequity.

In 2004 when I lived in OB (I moved to Sydney in 2007 – I’m both an American and Australian) I brought the inequity to the attention of Rep. Susan Davis and Senator Dianne Feinstein. Both have introduced legislation to correct the inequity. In the current (111th) Congress, the Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2009, H.R. 569 and the Equal Justice for United States Personnel Military Personnel Act of 2009, S. 357 have been introduced.

The legislation has broad support of (1) Fleet Reserve Association; (2) Military Officers Association of America; (3) National Institute of Military Justice; (4) Jewish War Veterans of the United States; (5) American Bar Association; (6) National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers; (7) ACLU and many others. Three former chief judges of the top military court – Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (formerly known as the Court of Military Appeals) support the legislation. Two of those judges were Reagan appointees.

Our sister common law countries – including my other home country of Australia – afford their military personnel equal access to their highest courts.

In the last Congress (110th) a similar bill, Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2007 H.R. 3174, was passed by 2/3 voice vote in the House but was held up in the Senate because the Bush administration opposed it. In this Congress (111th Congress) H.R. 569 received a hearing in Committee and was favorably reported out to the House. (You can read the Congressional hearing transcript here: ) H.R. 569 still awaits action with less than 6 months left in this Congress.

I agree with NYT’s Frank Rich that America is a work in progress. Part of that progress is recognizing injustices and inequities; and then fixing them – making them right. While we sit on the beach this 4th of July, eat hot dogs and hamburgers, drink beer (not on the beach anymore), watch fireworks and have marshmellow fights remember that not every American citizen has the same rights you have. Those American military servicemembers serving in remote places around the world to protect and defend you are treated like second class citizens when it comes to accessing our nation’s highest court.


Dave Rice (a.k.a. psd/anonymouscoward) July 4, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Good collection of articles, ‘editordude,’ and nice addition Norb! It is a shame that our service members, some of the most patriotic and yet powerless amongst us, end up pawns in the global chess game for what more and more seems a pointless and unattainable conquest for superiority…


Dave Sparling July 4, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Praise Jesus please forgive me Lord, I took a can of cheap Trader Joe’s SIMPLER TIMES beer down to the beach with my grandson and family members to watch the 4th of July FIREWORKS. I just hope to God that Carrie Nation and Kevin Faulkner can find it in their hearts to forgive me. I know the risk and the penalty for this CRIME. But as an old man I remember when we all had more freedom and LESS DO GOOD NICKS. But nothing will change as long as the younger generation is willing to put on a wrist band under private and government security, stand behind a fence and DRINK ALCOHOL.


annagrace July 5, 2010 at 10:15 pm

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Howard Zinn, “The People Speak. ” My beloved and I watched this DVD on the 4th. Long live Howard Zinn.


Sunshine July 6, 2010 at 1:09 am

“We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.” Howard Zinn

his wisdom speaks volumes.


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