My close friend and World Can’t Wait colleague Stephanie Rugoff hates it when people speak of the United States as “America,” her point being that there are two other sovereign states in North America, and a whole continent in the global south whose states are part of South America. So I try to be careful on that and use the term “U.S.”
All of you, I’m sure, are repelled by the ugly recent history of MAGAs and their antecedents, the America Firsters. It goes back centuries to the founding of American settler societies which conquered these continents via genocide and enslaving people all up and down.
The “America” we’re in did all of that so effectively that it became the #1 imperialist power and turned a too-large bunch of its inhabitants into “American” chauvinists of the nastiest kind (“We were here first, you can’t come in”). Even many of us — the well-meaning, decent people who believe in social justice — have been hoodwinked into thinking the U.S. Constitution is the “greatest” document shaping the best possible society, flawed as it is.
Yet, we’ve got to deal with the fact that enslaved people and women only figured into the Constitution as unnamed property. Even if you’ve read it before, look over the speech Frederick Douglass gave in Rochester in 1852 asking, What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? Once I studied the Vietnam War in 9th grade and met people who risked death fighting for civil and voting rights, I stopped celebrating and became an opponent of the empire.
So, Tuesday July 4 I’ll be outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia demanding a whole new way to live, a fundamentally different system. I invite you to join me.