July 4th Celebration Ethics

Since anything this President of the United States says, tweets, decides or does is automatically wrong, bad, stupid or ominous (according to 90% of the news media and the immovable “resistance”) the big story today will undoubtedly be how lousy the Trump-produced celebration in Washington, D.C. is.

Nobody will mention that the celebration has been pretty continuously lousy for decades, low-lighted by the hollowed out, aging, croaking shell of The Beach Boys that headlined the festivities for so many years, giving it the whiff of a cheesy local summer  county fair. It was high time someone shook up the thing, and this President, who has experience in theatrical production, is as good a choice to do that as anyone, except for those who refuse to concede that he is good for anything.

Most of the recent bitching has focused on the President’s insistence that a tank be part of the festivities. I can see several reasons why the President, or any President, might want to do this. The tank is a symbol of  military force, and a less ambiguous one than parading soldiers. In the midst of the kind of tough diplomacy with several hostile powers, sending the message that this administration, unlike the last one, is not reluctant to project the threat of military action has some obvious benefits.

Or maybe the President just likes tanks.

I think it’s tone deaf and inappropriate for this particular holiday to include bellicose demonstrations, and if I were President, I wouldn’t do it. I am not, however. I thought the lesson had been learned in 1967 that America’s best branding—Trump is supposed to be a branding expert–was as the center of the world’s liberty, individualism creativity, and productivity, and that U.S. military might was merely a necessary feature to ensure those things continue.

At 1967’s “Expo ’67” in Montreal, the Soviet Union and the U.S. had side by side massive pavilions that represented dueling systems and philosophies. The USSR display, inside a massive block building, was full of photos of wheat harvests and industrial products, as well as actual heavy farming equipment, missiles, space rockets, and, yes, tanks. The U.S. display, in deep contrast, was set in a giant transparent geodesic dome where the world longest escalator delivered vistitors to displays of Presidential, campaign buttons and memorabilia, Raggedy Ann dolls, artifacts from baseball’s Hall of Fame, and screens showing famous moments from classic Hollywood films: Cary Grant being shot at by the crop-duster in “North by Northwest,” Gary Cooper facing down the four gunslingers alone in “High Noon,” Gene Kelly exuberantly spinning with his umbrella in “Singing in the Rain,” the chariot race from “Ben Hur,” and more. The cultural critics who got it—not all of them did—said that the U.S. displayed its confidence by simply laying out the some of the fruits of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness rather than making a grandiose assertion of power.

“Who could stroll through the two pavilions and leave with any doubt regarding where they would prefer to live and raise a family?” one wrote.

The kind of subtlety and quite confidence that the U.S. pavilion radiated in Montreal’s 1967 World’s Fair, however, is not President Trump’s style.

15 thoughts on “July 4th Celebration Ethics

  1. Considering that Eisenhower and Kennedy had misiles parading down Pennsylvania Avenue along with jet flyovers during the Independence Day Celebration, I have absolutely no problem with Trump’s decision. I can just imagine what it would turn into if Cory Booker or Elizabeth Warren were President: A parade of oppressed peoples?

  2. ”A parade of oppressed peoples?”

    Perhaps a sullen legion of guilt-suffocated “eyes-fixed-shamefully-to-the-ground” White Lefties collectively self-flagellating in order to atone for their secular original sinfulness, and with sufficient carbon indulgences to defray any impact it may have on the Global Warming that’s here and worse than the models predicted?

  3. Code Pink does not want the militarization of Independence Day. Imagine if we felt that way back then. We could all be having tea at 4 today.

    How many of these people understand the symbolism of the fireworks display. Trust me, it does not symbolize the great contributions of the Chinese to America.

    I like tanks and all forms of military hardware. One can only stand so many Shriners driving around in little cars. I also prefer to see them in a parade here than being loaded onto ships..

  4. “Since anything this President of the United States says, tweets, decides or does is automatically wrong, bad, stupid or ominous (according to 90% of the news media and the immovable “resistance”) the big story today will undoubtedly be how lousy the Trump-produced celebration in Washington, D.C. is.”

    No kidding.Here’s a classic, recent example of that attitude from Fareed Zakaria on CNN:

    “It pains me to say this, but he is right, that the United States faces a crisis with its asylum system,” Zakaria said of Trump on his show Sunday. https://dailycaller.com/2019/07/02/fareed-zakaria-support-trump-asylum/

    How’s that for a shameless admission of in your face bias? What un-self-aware world are these people living in? Are they mysteriously illiterate and tone-deaf all at the same time?

  5. I assume that there is an actual tank (M1 Abrhams) somewhere in this production. All the photos I’ve seen, however, are of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a sort of upgraded Armored Personnel Carrier.

  6. Maybe it’s all an elaborate subterfuge and Obama is going to stage his coup d’etat? Ooooh, now things are really going to get exciting!

    What if Rosie O’Donnell is behind it all somehow? Oh God, or Miss Coco Peru?!?

    Now I’m scared.

  7. Schafe können sicher weiden
    Wo ein guter Hirte wacht.

    Wo Regenten wohl regieren
    Kann man Ruh’ und Friede spüren
    Und was Länder glücklich macht.

    Sheep may safely graze and pasture
    In a watchful Shepherd’s sight.

    Those who rule with wisdom guiding
    Bring to hearts a peace abiding
    Bless a land with joy made bright.

  8. One of the fundamental strengths (and essential components) of successful Republics is a sense of shared security — or Common Defense. When the first raiding tribes of warrior-oriented peoples first settled down to farming and eventually to congregating in cities to more efficiently allocate their man hours, they still recognized the need for warrior skills to permeate society. While their towns THRIVED because fewer farmers could feed more people, who were then freed to develop technology and culture, there always sat off on the periphery of their cultivated fields, competitor cultures or uncivilized warrior tribes waiting to take all their advances from them. Those settled communities still needed protection.

    Two options were available for them, most communities adopting a general blend of the two:

    1) Hyper-specialization of skills, in which farmers were 100% farmers, artisans were 100% artisans, leaders were 100% leaders, priests were 100% priests…and security was delegated to citizens who were 100% soldiers.

    2) Specialization of skills, with certain common needs still adopted by all, in which everyone had their job, but when danger arose, everyone was a soldier.

    In the earliest communities, even between the two poles, all members of the community were intimately acquainted with their warriors, either as family members, neighbors, or simply because once every few months the community rehearsed what they would do in an emergency by picking up spears and shields and temporarily practice at soldiering on their own.

    The best balance was found in communities that maintained a core of professionals while expecting the larger community to maintain a decent set of skills to bolster that core in a military emergency.

    As history rolls on, you see various societies experiment in the balance between 100% professional soldiers loyal to the Nation (or often times something that resembled mostly a private army that was extremely loyal to the State) and the blended model of professionals bolstered by a citizenry CAPABLE and WILLING to sacrifice for the Common Defense.

    I think History will attest, the the far end of the poles are all unsuccessful. While history rarely gives us examples of a 100% citizen-soldier option with no professionals (cultures like that are too tribal and simplistic and often are immediately conquered or absorbed by stronger cultures), history willingly grants us examples of the other extreme: Countries who’s soldiery is almost completely divorced from its citizenry.

    In these nations, where there is almost NO community between soldier and civilian, I think history eagerly shows us a State that is abusive or able to be abused, a soldiery that disregards the civilian callously, civilians that fear their own soldiers like some foreign occupation force, and other evils. I think, when we see a country whose armies are so divorced from its people but not yet abusive, we really only see a country on the verge of a handful of paths—-most of which are dark.

    The United States, at its founding, outside of a few commercial and proto-industrial centers, was essentially an agrarian society, while having cities, most of its people were too spread out to enjoy the benefits of labor specialization that cities provided. But it also inherited an English cultural tradition of Common Defense.

    I’m not sure which factor MOST affected the United States’ own cultural attribute, but either the inherited notion of Common Defense OR the stark reality of being a sparsely populated agrarian society surrounded by strong and unpredictable players COMPELLED the citizenry to understand the needs of every man being ready to take up arms and every man, in practice, having to take up arms at some point in their lives.

    Every American, therefore, was deeply involved in their own Nation’s, State’s AND Country’s military, even while not professional soldiers. Having lived the rugged life of a soldier and defending the nation’s values, they understood on a deeply personal level that the American soldier existed to defend the Republic, the Constitution, and therefore, directly, the liberties of the rest of the Citizenry. There was no need to view the armed and enrolled man as an active threat to the every day lives of the people.

    While the Founders wisely were cautious of an overly large standing army because of what could occur and the citizenry were equally cautious of the same, given the British abuses in the colonies from what was essentially a foreign occupying force, there is a natural fear of a government’s army.

    So, given our own nation’s essential connection with the armed citizen who often times found himself in service of the community under authority of the state, either through active campaign against present enemies or through periodic training balanced against our own nation’s essential fear of a standing army divorced from the people, what are we to think of military parades?

    I for one side with the notion that they are generally unbecoming of a republic loathe to have a standing army divorced from its people, but, having been a soldier and seeing the “inside” and recognizing the absolute folly of a nation becoming so divorced from it’s military that I literally could not converse with civilians in any meaningful manner about military topics, I am concerned that our Republic is at one of those troubling points where the military isn’t a cluster of citizen-soldiers, but a soldier-tribe that is not part of the people.

    Given how some people have a seemingly-contrived physiological aversion to IT’S OWN SOLDIERS being present, that’s a symptom of a deeper problem.

    While a parade on the 4th of July might not be comfort inducing, I don’t see how it’s a bad thing to feature MORE soldier “displays” among the community at large. When half of the political spectrum can’t stand the notion of having warriors in it’s midst, we’ve got a problem. When the warriors in it’s midst don’t even feel like they can communicate with the civilians, we’ve got a problem.

    And avoiding, nay protesting, the inclusion of soldiers at events doesn’t solve the problem.

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