COVID19, that ersatz apocalypse, has never come anywhere close to killing the two million Americans we were solemnly assured might succumb to it a few months ago. But, judging from the state of things on this year’s Independence Day, I’m afraid its propagandists in government and mass media may have actually done worse than that: they may have succeeded in killing America itself.
True, you’d never have guessed that from watching the display of fireworks that festooned my urban horizon after dark on the Fourth of July – American’s annual orgy of self-congratulation intended to commemorate the colonies’ declaration of independence from Great Britain in 1776. I suppose you can always count on the American public to explode things with relish – it’s just a pity they haven’t taken a similar pleasure in exploding the deceptions of their ruling class.
Watching those futile bursts of sound and color (produced by a population that has effectively been living under dictatorship since early March), I found myself wishing for a genuine eruption, like the one that poured out of Frederick Douglass in 1852 as that former slave lambasted the hypocrisy of celebrating the Declaration of Independence’s pronouncement “all men are created equal” in a land that tolerated – in fact, demanded – the subjugation of a huge proportion of its inhabitants:
I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! […] America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future […] I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery – the great sin and shame of America!”