The 4th of July Defined

Many countries have holidays which celebrate the end of an old regime, and the time when their country was officially created. But I like to think that the American version is a bit different from most of them.

The history taught in schools would have us all think that the Continental Congress was pretty much a bunch of foppish, wig wearing dandies who liked nothing better than to strike dramatic poses and spout off long winded speeches laden with allusions to ancient Greek and Roman culture. This isn’t exactly accurate.

It was on this day 231 years ago that those same dandies told the greatest military power on the planet to go get bent. Any reasonable and accurate assessment of their chances to prevail would have been right down there at zero. Everyone who signed the Declaration of Independence, if they were being honest with themselves, could only expect to end their lives at the end of a noose. Most of their friends would swing with them. Their property and fortunes would certainly have been confiscated, bringing ruin and poverty to their families. But they did it anyway.

Those guys were real men. Balls as big as church bells. Anyone who wants to understand the United States has to start at that basic historical fact.

This day is the quintessential American holiday, and I am going to celebrate it in a way to honor the spirit and memory of the real men who put it all on the line for some impossible dream. I’m going to eat a lot of red meat, I’m going to pal around with my real men buddies, and I’m going to blow some stuff up real good.


15 thoughts on “The 4th of July Defined”

  1. James, bravo.

    The Founders were very brave men. They did not hedge. They knew exactly the hazards they were facing. They put everything they had on the roll of the iron dice. Death or glory. Literally.

    They won big time.

    We are stilling living off the jackpot.

    God grant that we may pass on what they gave us to the next generation of Americans not only not less, but greater than it has been given to us.

    Today: Dads detonating major fireworks for a mob of kids, over the annually restated objection of the moms, who freak out and worry about ears and fingers, etc. Also: Grilled meat. Also: Beer.

  2. I do two things every Independence Day:

    1. Listen to Paul Robeson’s Ballad for Americans.
    2. Watch Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy (film)

  3. Good 4th of July reading: Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem “Listen to the People,” which was performed on national radio on 7/4/1940. The spam filter won’t let me link it, but you can find it by typing “benet” in the Chicago Boyz search box. It’s also my top post at Photon Courier today.

    Also, be sure to read Lileks today.

    [Benet poem is here.]

  4. It is by this very logic that we have to respect Bin Laden and consider Bill Maher correct when he said that courage is what the 9/11 attackers showed.

  5. “It is by this very logic that we have to respect Bin Laden and consider Bill Maher correct when he said that courage is what the 9/11 attackers showed.”

    Nonsense. The objection to Maher’s comments is that the hijackers demonstrated a lack of _moral_ courage by their deliberate targeting of civilians.

    The Continental Congress, on the other hand, fought for their beliefs like men. They attacked the British Army and the British Government.

  6. It is by this very logic that we have to respect Bin Laden and consider Bill Maher correct when he said that courage is what the 9/11 attackers showed.

    I’m with Dave on this. The Continental Congress raised an army and went toe-to-toe with British infantry.In the Battle of Valcour Island they even built a rag-tag fleet of vessels similar to Viking longships and tried to slug it out with Royal Navy vessels. It simply never occurred to them to conduct a terrorist war on innocent civilians, even though they kept coming up second best.

    Maybe Jimbino and Bill Maher consider deliberately murdering helpless civilians to be an act of courage. Doesn’t sound that way to me.


  7. Suicide bombers exhibit enormous physical courage, which is obviously what Maher meant, while U.S. bomber pilots demonstrate relatively less of it. This is why physical courage isn’t necessarily praiseworthy–the point Maher was trying to make.

    It’s easy to see why some people were so offended by Maher’s remark. The idea that physical courage is meaningless if it’s in service of an unpraiseworthy cause is a threat to the reflexive reverence for military men a very loud minority of Americans demand, and generally obtain, from the mainstream media.

  8. One more “Happy 4th of July” in its waning hour. Many detonations going off outside, rattling, cracking and booming. Clouds of smoke everywhere. I think the fireworks are getting to be a bigger deal every year lately. Good. I like it.

  9. Physical courage and moral courage are not unrelated. For example, most people would agree that the members of the German anti-Nazi resistance (Hans Oster, Count Stauffenberg, Hans and Sophie Scholl, to name a few) showed great moral courage. But this moral courage was inextricable bound up with the physical couage to face probable torture and death.

  10. I don’t see connection, sorry. Yes, these men had balls and determination. But in what way you’re “honoring their spirit” by filling your belly with meat, poisoning the air with burned charcoal stench and “blowing some stuff up” (whatever that means)?
    What, exactly, you put on the line by hanging out with your male buddies?

    Lex – yeah, those cowardly moms, who worry about ears and fingers. Real man would definitely put HIS KIDS in danger to celebrate a historical event, right? Beautiful lesson you give your offspring.

  11. Other good July 4th reading: THE TRIUMPH OF LIBERTY, by Jim Powell and Murray Rothbard’s CONCEIVED IN LIBERTY.

  12. “Suicide bombers exhibit enormous physical courage” Not really, a lot of them are actually doped up, and/or filled with fanatical drive, and a suicidal belief that what comes after the bombing earns them paradise. More than a few of them have been found to be chained to their car bombs, or duped into believing they were delivering a bomb to be emplaced, only to have a friendly hand nearby to push the switch. Some of them have been reduced to crying children, huddled before a checkpoint, or collapsing in fear after a failed attempt. Some have been retarded adults used by unscrupulous men as unwitting delivery systems. A few have been children, told they were helping their families by carrying a package to another place.

    Courageous, hardly.

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