I was talking with a relative recently who was telling me about an incident a while back where the maintenance staff at the building he worked at had gone on strike and were picketing the building. Emails had gone out from the building management telling people not to get into arguments or cause incidents with the picketers, and it became a source of quite a bit of topic around the office. My relative was amused to hear expressed several times the sentiment, “That’s what makes our country different from the rest of the world. Here, they have the freedom to hold a protest like that.”
It if, of course, true that they have the freedom to picket their employer here. However, that’s not necessarily a contrast with the rest of the developed world. They could do the same in thing in Canada, or the UK or France or Germany, etc. There is, as my relative pointed out, a tendency at times for Americans to assume that because our country was very consciously founded in order to secure certain freedoms, that this means that people who don’t live in the US don’t have the same freedoms. Obviously, some don’t. One’s freedom of political and economic expression is severely limited if you live in North Korea or China or Cuba or some such nation. But there are many other countries in which people enjoy basically all the same freedoms that we do.
This American tendency to assume that we are the only ones to enjoy the freedoms outlined in our Bill of Rights is something which very much annoys many people who consider the US to be dangerously nationalistic, or who would prefer that we see the US as just one other region, not better or worse than others. Continue reading
One of the forgotten geniuses of American comedy, Red Skelton. Skelton rose out of abject poverty to become one of the great comedians of his time. As the above video indicates Skelton also had his serious side. A remembrance of better times when students pledged allegiance to the country rather than chanting hymns of praise for a living politician.
There has been an interesting discussion going on that began with a little mockery of Obama’s propensity for offering collective apologies around the world for various things out of the American past or present. I am a big proponent of apologies- but they must be prudent and truly repentant- not some mixed-motive posturing like former President Clinton seemed inclined. A great Catholic example of what I am seeking is found in a great book entitled “Guatemala Never Again!”. This is no Leftist diatribe, this is (REMHI) the Recovery of Historical Memory Project. This is the Official Report of the Human Rights Office, Archdiocese of Guatemala. Let me quote from the back cover:
[Updates at the bottom of his post]
Governor Sarah Palin recently announced her resignation as governor of the great state of Alaska and there has been a flurry of analysis of her motives, her character, and her future plans. Some of this analysis were sincere, others were borderline antagonistic.
This is all occurring in the midst of an Obama presidency steering both Democratic controlled chambers of Congress that have substantially increased spending and enlarged the government to the detriment of our freedoms. Couple this with the lack of a clear Republican plan to challenge all of this, the American people are in need of a leader to guide us out of this wilderness.
I believe Governor Palin can and should play this important role. She stated in her final address as governor of Alaska that she wants to do what’s best for her state. If she is a person of principle and a patriot then it is logical to presume that she wants what’s best for America. And what’s best for America right now is to have a strong and vigorous counterweight to the liberal agenda of President Obama and his enablers in the Congress.
The plan that Governor Palin should pursue is to proactively lead Americans to take back Congress as part of the pact with America. She should do what then House Leader Newt Gingrich did in 1994 with the Republican Party’s Contract with America that gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.
The 4th of July is the primary patriotic holiday of our country, and yet the event it commemorates (the publication of the Declaration of Independence) was just the first step on our road to nationhood. Although the Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Articles of Confederation were not adopted until November of 1777 and were not ratified until March of 1781 — the year that the Revolutionary War was finally won, with the surrender of General Cornwallis in Yorktown. Yet the Articles turned out to be a fairly unworkable practical form of government, and Shay’s Rebellion of 1786-1787 demonstrated that to many of the new country’s citizens, armed revolt was still a standard form of political expression.
The ratification of the US Constitution in March of 1789 represented a significant step, creating a stronger central government with more clearly defined powers, and a model for federal constitutions to this day. Yet, whether the words on paper could be translated into a lasting and stable government remained yet to be seen.
To my mind, one of the major milestones was reached in 1794, when President Washington put down the Whiskey Rebellion.
Shatner the Canadian explains the preamble of the Constitution to us! Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to see me drag Star Trek into my posts leading up to the Fourth of July!