Yesterday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day. And a lot of people are saying that it’s a horrible holiday, we’re a horrible nation (and were worse then), and it’s horrible to celebrate it. Celebrating the Fourth of July is, they say, celebrating White Supremacy. It’s celebrating slavery. It’s celebrating the horrible, dishonest, violent way white Europeans treated the American natives.
I say that’s utter cark.
Yes, the nascent United States was not without big, glaring flaws. Yes, we had slaves. Yes, the white European settlers often thought of themselves as superior to every other people’s on the planet. Yes, the way the natives were treated was terrible. So stipulated. But the chain of events set in motion by our declaring Independence from Great Britain has led to the greatest birth of Freedom and prosperity this world has ever known.
In a nice, neat, ideal world we could have gotten it perfect from the start. There would have been no chattel slavery. Men and women would have had equal rights, including suffrage, from the start. We would have negotiated peacefully with the indigenes and come to equitable arrangements for land and resources. (Some of the founders of the original colonies made a point to buy the land they used from natives and generally lived in peace with their indigenous neighbors–until somebody from a neighboring colony started behaving differently. See the founding of Rhode Island as just one example.)
But the real world is messy. It’s always been messy. There’s no reason to believe it will ever be anything but messy. So, yeah, there was a lot wrong with the colonies that declared their Independence from Britain in July of 1776, but there was a lot right too. And a smaller step than we would, in hindsight perhaps prefer, it was a move in the right direction.
So give thanks and praise to whatever gods their might be that those learned men in Philadelphia in July of 1776 took the steps they did and brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated the the proposition that all men (in the old sense of “humankind”) are created equal.