When you think of the 4th of July, what comes to mind? Firecrackers? Beach? Barbeque?
Here’s a corny word we sophisticated New Yorkers shy away from: Freedom.
We hear so much misuse of the word and crap about our Founding Fathers from phony patriots that it turns us off.
But don’t let these charlatans steal the meaning of freedom from us. Because those clowns dressing up in Revolutionary War garb don’t have a clue. They’d be horrified if they came face to face with an actual Founding Father such as Thomas Jefferson, who’d tell them to keep their damn religious beliefs out of his government! That the reason their ancestors came here was to escape having to practice the King’s religion or be severely punished, so learn some history and stop playing dress up.
Or Thomas Paine, who spoke of the hypocrisy and corruption of the church and its un-American effort to acquire political power. Paine could have spoken those words this very weekend–or last, when Bishop Dolan bitterly attacked gays getting the freedom to marry. No disrespect, Bishop, but God–and American values–are definitely not on your side.
Freedom! Say it loud. How are you celebrating it this weekend? Maybe you’re going to Nathan’s in Coney, to watch Joey Chestnut shove 60 hot dogs down his gullet, or a 125 pound Japanese hipster seem to eat more than his weight in kosher franks.
Or maybe you’re heading out to Citi Field to watch the Subway Series. I don’t know if you’re a Met or Yankee fan, but one thing I do know–you’ll be cheering your lungs out for an Hispanic guy. The “Great American Pastime” is now dominated by Latino players, mostly foreign born, and baseball is all the better for it.
Because in New York, we don’t put down immigrants, or flamboyant, parading gays, or any version of “the other.” We cheer them. We ride the subways with them. We are related to them. We are them. America has always (until recently, anyway) taken pride in being the great melting pot, and we are proud that our beloved city is the resulting, tasty stew.
And not to be a wet blanket, but why not take just a moment during your picnic or barbeque and think about freedom and the threat to it from without and within. The freedom to practice your religion in peace, or not at all. The freedom to enter an airport without fear of attack__and without being groped. Freedom from Nanny Staters who want to use your tax money to put up subway ads telling you not to drink soda or eat soup. The freedom to marry your girlfriend or boyfriend, no matter what your sexual orientation. The freedom to have children, or not, and to choose, when, if and how. And the freedom to tell those who would have the government take that right away how truly un-American they are and to back off!
Celebrate the Fourth! Celebrate how the Mets, despite idiot ownership and countless injuries, manage to hang in there. Celebrate how Larry David is back in town where he belongs–although I’m a bit concerned how he plans to stand out from the other eight million grumpy New Yorkers.
So whether you’re at the beach, watching the Macy’s fireworks display on the Hudson or just relaxing at home, take a moment to think about what this holiday really means, and the dream of freedom our flawed but visionary Founding Fathers fought for. Let’s keep fighting that good fight. Because despite what you might hear to the contrary, this land is very much your land.
So happy Fourth!