Independence Day,July 4, 1776” I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”–John Adams in a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776
Today is the Fourth of July. Independence Day. Our Nation’s Birthday. We are solemn, serious and thoughtful on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Flag Day, but not the Fourth of July. We are expected to celebrate today, have fireworks, picnics, parades, band concerts, and rings of fire around lakes. For those who can’t attend the celebrations in person there are specials celebratory events on television so that all can appreciate our history and our freedoms.
Hoopla is fun, but the holiday will end, and we will be back in 2015—not 1776.
I have recently discovered HBO’s program “Newsroom”. It ran for three seasons–25 episodes–from June of 2012 to December, 2014. The series’ plot focused around actual major news events from 2010 to 2013
The following is a clip from the opening scene from the Pilot episode. It is followed by the text of the monolog of the main character, Newscaster Will McAvoy.
“Jennifer Johnson: Can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?
Sharon: Diversity and opportunity.
Lewis: Freedom and freedom… so let’s keep it that way.
Will McAvoy: The New York Jets.
Moderator: No, I’m going to hold you to an answer on that. What makes America the greatest country in the world?
Will McAvoy: Well, Lewis and Sharon said it. Diversity and opportunity and freedom and freedom.
Moderator: I’m not letting you go back to the airport without answering the question.
Will McAvoy: Well, our Constitution is a masterpiece. James Madison was a genius. The Declaration of Independence is, for me, the single greatest piece of American writing… [Professor keeps staring] Will McAvoy: You don’t look satisfied.
Moderator: One’s a set of laws and the other’s a declaration of war. I want a human moment from you… what about the people? Why is America…
Will McAvoy: It’s not the greatest country in the world, professor. That’s my answer.
Moderator: You’re saying…
Will McAvoy: Yes.
Moderator: Let’s talk about…
Will McAvoy: Fine. [Turns to Sharon] Sharon, the NEA is a loser. Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck, but he [gestures to Lewis] gets to hit you with it anytime he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes. It costs airtime and column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Cause they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so god damn always?
Will McAvoy: [Turns to Louis] And with a straight face, you’re gonna tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The UK. France. Italy. Germany. Spain. Australia… Belgium! has freedom… 207 sovereign states in the world, like 180 of ’em have freedom.
Will McAvoy: [Looks at Jenny] And, yeah, you… sorority girl. Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there are some things you should know. One of them is: There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, number 4 in labor forceand number 4 in exports.
We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and
defense spending – where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.
Now, none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student, but you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the FUCK you’re talking about!… Yosemite? [Stunned silence]
Will McAvoy: … It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws – for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advanced, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists AND the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed… by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”