Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Today we celebrate the 231st anniversary of the Declaration of the Independence of the United States. I've made the habit over the last 7 years of reading this document out loud on this day (You can read it by clicking on the link above). It's an educational thing. There's some fascinating language in there. For instance

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
which, if it were to reflect current reality, would read something like
Governments long established should not be changed unless the United States decides they should, for whatever causes the United states deems necessary, or chooses to make up or believe in.

There is a long list of the crimes of King George III of England, including the following:

  • For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Now what nation and head of state has, over the last 4 years, been carrying out amazingly *similar* actions in the world? Hmmmmmm ....

People are almost always surprised, when I read this aloud at July 4th events I find myself at, over the "merciless Indian savages" language. And this is intriguing, because of course we now know that the signing of this document 231 years ago spelled DOOM to the native Americans--the beginning of the almost total destruction of their population and culture. Moreover, this "known rule of warfare: an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions" has become in many cases our own rule of warfare.

So today I'm not doing any celebrating of this document. It seems to have led to more bad than good, if for nothing more than it created the only nation which has ever dropped nuclear weapons against their enemies.


Julie said...

Great post. I stole your tactic and posted something similar.

Megs said...

blind spots. how can they have been so enthusiastic about every body being created equal, with the right to pursue happiness, and just write off those 'merciless indian savages'... and likewise today, those Iraqi 'collateral damages'? USA walk your talk!