July 4, 2007, - 12:01 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Happy Birthday, America! 231 years. As I said at this time last year, we hope for an endless, infinite number of repeats and an endless supply of freedom and liberty. The more we keep kissing the rears of those who would destroy us (you know, from a certain “Religion of Peace”), the less likely that will be.
Here are some 4th of July items of interest, starting with the bad and ending with the good:
* Patriotism must be in short supply at USA Today’s “Life” Section. Movie critic Scott Bowles, while giving a thumbs up to “Rescue Dawn” (in New York and L.A. theatres, today; in the rest of the country, the next two weeks), he simply can’t understand why American soldiers shot down in an enemy country would have the will to survive a brutal prison or why they’d continue to be loyal to America. He finds it bizarre that pilot Dieter Dengler, the late real-life American hero who emigrated here from Germany to “get his wings,” would feel this way about America and calls it “military jingoism” and “simple stereotypes.”
Whenever you hear the word jingoism, it’s generally a left-wing attack on American patriotism. Sorry, there’s nothing “simplistic” or “stereotypical” about this great man’s refusal to sign documents denouncing America, while being tortured in a Laotian POW camp. His bravery and loyalty are to be admired and emulated, not dismissed with the lazy lexicon of the left. Stay tuned for my review of “Rescue Dawn.”
* While everyone else is celebrating America’s birth and hopefully reflecting on how lucky we are to live in this great country, the Arab American National Museum wants to make sure that you know it’s just another business day for them. Unlike all other museums, the heavily federally-subsidized anti-Israel museum is open for business today, and sent an e-mail out letting us know. Nothing American about that.
* HAMAS is smarter than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regarding Western Infidels: While terrorist group HAMAS was smart enough to release their biggest Infidel fan and tool, Alan Johnston of the BBC (one of the terrorist group’s biggest media ass-kissers), the Iranian leader is not as savvy. He rejected anti-American American Oliver Stone’s boot-licking, jilted lover pleas to make a pro-Ahmadinejad movie, saying he’s very Orthodox about all Infidels: They are all part of the “Great Satan,” including Stone, and he, therefore, rejects them all, including Stone. Glad Mahmoud doesn’t play by the HAMAS meda-savvy playbook. The filmmaker of the lefty “Born on the Fourth of July” doesn’t really give a damn about what happened on the 4th of July, apparently.
* “Miss Manners” columnist Judith Martin tells a patriotic immigrant that she’s wrong to be appalled that so many current immigrants to America won’t embrace our culture and absorb themselves (that means you folks from the “Religion of Peace” and the rest of you who won’t speak English or want the Mexican flag to replace ours). Martin attacks the immigrant and tells her that instead of “grousing,” she has no right to question hostile immigrants’ loyalties, and should instead, help smooth the way for “the newcomers.” G-d help us if the new definition of good manners is kowtowing to those that come to America with not always the best of intentions and want us to adapt to them.
* The Freedom of Information Act turns 40 today (signed into law in 1966), but it’s failed miserably. Disclosure requests under the Act are not being complied with. I’ve made FOIA requests to the Justice Department, for example, about some of their pan-Islamist polices and events. Three years later, still no response. But most Americans don’t have the wherewithall to fund lawsuits to make the government comply instead of hiding. And they know that. The law must be tightened, with severe penalties for evasive government officials.
* Too many American flags are foreign-made. I’m all for the free market and against far-reaching protectionism, but something’s wrong when we cannot even make what Betsy Ross made in our own country. $5.3 million worth of flags were imported from other countries, last year. It sends the wrong message to the world, and a satisfying message to the followers of V.I. Lenin, who predicted such folly on our part.
Minnesota passed a strong measure, in effect at year’s end, prohibiting stores in Minnesota from selling flags made other than in America. Arizona, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have either passed or are considering similarly restrictive American flag legislation. Will they be able to enforce it? We’ll see. “Made in America” often means very little of the product was actually made here.
* I love John Trumbull’s famous painting, “The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.” The Wall Street Journal, Saturday, had an interesting read about the painting and the Signers. Apparently, Trumbull was a talented artist despite being blind in one eye.
But I’m not sure we really needed this painting to be so critiqued and taken down. Sometimes it’s better to believe in the image and the mythology:
The common understanding, of course, is that the painting portrays the birth of the nation at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, on July 4, 1776. And certainly the official title would seem to confirm that. But the common understanding is wrong. The signing of the document (which was indeed dated July 4) did not begin until August 2, and even then not all delegates to the Continental Congress were present. Those who were absent did not sign until weeks, even months later. One man did not add his signature until 1777.
What the scene appears to depict is the moment on June 28 when a committee of five named to draw up a declaration of American independence-John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin-presented Jefferson’s unedited first draft. But again no such ceremonial moment with all present took place. And besides, nearly everything about the setting is quite inaccurate.
The idea for the painting was hatched by Jefferson and Trumbull in Paris 10 years after the fact, in 1786, while Trumbull was a guest at Jefferson’s mansion on the Champs-Elysees.
* Read “Five Things About the Declaration of Independence” from the Detroit Free Press, which says that Jefferson wrote the first draft beginning on June 11, 1776.
* Though I’m no fan of his, I think it’s great that Spike Lee is doing a movie on the Buffalo Soldiers and how these Black American soldiers fought valiantly in World War II to help liberate Europe from the Nazis. I’m hoping and thinking this will be different from Lee’s usual fare, and I look forward to reviewing it for you. More on this later in the week.
* Read USA Today’s touching account on 22-year-old wounded Marine, Lance Cpl. Salvador Gonzalez, who sings the National Anthem all over. He had aspirations to become a professional singer and lost his leg during fighting in Iraq in October 2004. It’s trite, but true. Freedom isn’t free. He sings all over America, now, complete with his prosthesis and his unwounded patriotism.
* Today, Lowe’s shows its appreciation for our military, giving a 10% discount on purchases up to $5,000, today through July 8th, for all active, reserve, and retired military personnel and their immediate family members. To qualify, present a valid military ID or other proof of service, such as a VA card, VFW card, veteran’s ID or discharge papers.
* Yes, the Fourth of July is not about hot dogs. It’s about freedom. But, still, hot dogs are a major part of Fourth of July culture and American summer living. So, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention today’s big 91st annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, with the big showdown between world record holder, American Joey Chestnut, and Japanese-champ-with-an-arthritic-jaw, Takeru Kobayashi. Love that. (Shown on ESPN at high noon.) **** UPDATE: American Chestnut beats Japanese Kobayashi, 66-63 hot dogs, a new world record. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! (Thanks to reader Ari for the update–he had faster results than even ESPN, which aired the mustard-covered showdown.) ****
* I often disagree with USA Today’s editorials. They are usually stupid and written for a 6th-grade audience. But not the one from yesterday, which tells us about the sacrifices we can make for America and its troops (and it has nothing to do with Sheryl Crow’s and Laurie David’s prescription of one-square of toilet paper per bathroom visitation):
When PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer asked President Bush in January why he hadn’t called on Americans to “sacrifice” for the war in Iraq, the president immediately assumed that Lehrer meant raising taxes.
Bush said he strongly opposed higher taxes, and he insisted Americans were sacrificing already. “They sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night,” Bush said.
In the spirit of the July 4 holiday, let’s suggest the president just missed an opportunity. A quick Google search reveals plenty of ways to “sacrifice” for the troops that have nothing to do with taxes (though paying for the war instead of charging it to future generations would be a very good idea). Many organizations have sprung up since the war began to help make life a little better for troops and their loved ones. Just a few examples:
* For $25, anyone can send a USO Care Package to a servicemember in Iraq that includes things such as prepaid phone cards, snacks and a personal message of thanks.
* The president signed legislation in 2004 that made it possible to donate unused frequent-flier miles from 10 airlines to the “Hero Miles” program to help families fly to see wounded troops in distant military hospitals.
* The Fisher House program offers places to stay for families visiting sick or wounded troops.
If you’d like a longer list, look for “Iraq” at www.networkforgood.org.
No matter what you think of the Iraq war, it’s worth remembering that a lot of Americans won’t be spending their July 4 like the rest of us, taking a midweek break with family and friends. Instead, they’ll be trying to avoid getting killed in a place where just going outside can make you wish you were somewhere else.
There are myriad ways to help, and not all involve organized programs. We like the story that a Washington, D.C., radio host told about a soldier home on leave having dinner with his girlfriend at a restaurant. When the soldier asked for the check, he found out a man across the room had already paid it. When the soldier looked over, the man simply gave him a salute.
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