I don’t believe we have ever experienced a Fourth of July holiday quite like this. Last year, I was questioning patriotism’s motivation to hide a painful past to gain control of the present and future. Such an exercise is perfectly in line with the basic concept of the holiday, as far as I am concerned: A recognition of the nation’s inception should always include meditations on how, and why, or if, that nation is changing.
However, this year there are no meditations. Instead, you only have the bleary and shocked thoughts of a car accident survivor, seconds after the impact. COVID-19 has made so many changes, and it’s not just because of that.
After White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s historic testimony before the 1/6 select committee, every conversation I had the next day began with “DID YOU SEE?” It was a breath of fresh air to be able to discuss real courage for a change, but Hutchinson’s performance could not obscure the fact that a president beyond control tried to turn a heavily armed mob on Congress to overthrow the election results. It could not hide the fact that the same person could run for president again in 2024.
The Supreme Court, in a blur of weeks, has changed the fundamental rights available to millions of people in this country — and even the prospects of humanity’s survival. The overturning Roe v. Wade50 years of established reproductive rights were destroyed. In Kennedy v. Bremerton School DistrictAnd Carson v. MakinSeparation of church and state was deeply wounding. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. BruenThe door was opened to allow concealed guns to fall on a society already ravaged by extreme gun violence. In United States v. ZubaydahThe government was allowed by the CIA to conceal a black site at which a prisoner was tortured. In West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, the court eviscerated the EPA’s ability to regulate polluters.
Freedom. Privacy. God in schools. Guns everywhere. The stain remains of torture. The escalating climate crisis has seen polluters relax their leashes. It is difficult for us to grasp the magnitude of what has happened, how fast it has happened, and what we can do now. Look out the window and everything seems the same… yet in truth, everything is different, and the frontal assault by right-wing forces upon all the progressive gains made last century is only just beginning.
It is worth fighting to protect a country that makes such positive changes. It is terrifying to think of a country that can make these changes in a matter of weeks. We are both countries on this July 4. We are a ball of molten rocks waiting to be shaped, but we are not formless in the void. What role will you play in this shaping?