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Independence Day

Friday, Jul. 04, 2008 3:53 AM

It's the Fourth of July, celebrated in America as Independence Day.

Ponder that for a moment.

In 1776, our founding fathers set us on an amazing journey - not one of luck, though fortune would offer its blessings - but one shaped by careful deliberation and insight. Ten years later, those same men helped draft our Constitution, placing among their work guarantees of freedoms they held to be essential to the healthy function of a democratic nation.

Some would have you believe that 225 years later, nineteen men hijacked four planes and crashed them in an assault on our liberties and freedom, and that this was an event of such magnitude that somehow, everything is different, and that beliefs and laws of the prior day are no longer sufficient to the task.

Yet 9/11, despite the immediacy and horror made possible through modern media, is nothing we have not seen before. We've seen despots and thugs on the world stage before, and America has always risen up and stood proud. I submit that we have even done ourselves worse injury during the Civil War, rather than credit terrorists with striking a critical blow.

The question then, is why we have this obsession with terrorists and terrorism, as if this had been the first time we'd ever been exposed to an anti-American view, or to those with a will to act out their violent desires?

Why have we adopted the tactics of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and the East German Stasi, seeking blanket surveillance, looking for 'moral clarity' on torture, and conflating the terrorists into an ominous force that dominates our national dialogue?

Why are we suddenly swimming in fascist-sounding holidays like 'Patriot Day' and 'Loyalty Day'? Should we not be suspicious when 'homeland' becomes a new synonym for America, or a snappy acronym like USA PATRIOT gets slapped on legislation of 10,000 pages that was drafted in less than a week after 9/11?

It is fundamental strategy to engender panic and fear, and let an enemy's weaknesses sow the ground for your victory, so why do we continue to quiver in our boots at the mere mention of al-Qaeda?

On this day where our founding fathers declared their independence from the tyranny of an unjust king, perhaps we need to give less thought to the terrorists - at least in the way that so many politicians and the media would have it - and more to those things that comprise and sustain the ideals of a free America.

Let us celebrate our freedom, not to stick it to the terrorists, but simply because we have been blessed with such a precious gift. Let us understand that together, as a free people of many creeds and nations, we are more than a match for the thugs and their hate.

Sir Isaac Newton once wrote, "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood upon the shoulders of giants."

Stand up, America.

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