Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth of July Thoughts

1. Essential Fourth of July Reading

Frederick Douglass' 1852 Independence Day speech (via Daily Kos)

2. Another Banner Controversy

Just two years after going ballistic over the national anthem being sung in Spanish, right-wing talk shows and xenophobic politicians like Tom Tancredo are all upset that at a meeting of the Denver city council "jazz singer Rene Marie sang the melody of Francis Scott Key’s "Star Spangled Banner" but used the lyrics of “Lift Ev'ry Voice in Praise,” written by poet James Weldon Johnson in 1900. The song is often described as the 'black national anthem.'"

Funny that Tancredo and his ilk never seems to get angry at the Confederate flag which is a real insult to American values.

Marie Renee is not the first to put new words to the Star Spangled Banner. During the Civil War, Oliver Wendell Holmes penned a new stanza

When our land is illumined with liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strikes a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that tries to defile
The flag of the stars, and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained,
Who their birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave,
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

I would have like to have heard the first stanza, followed by the Holmes stanza, and then the words to "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

"Long May It Wave"--my blog on the Spanish anthem controversy

3. Be Patriotic, Defend the Constitution

John Nichols writes on the Nation's blog
advertisement in Thursday's New York Times that announced "A Declaration for Our Times" -- a variation on the Declaration of Independence that, in the spirit of the original document, rejects sacrifices of basic liberties in the name of security.

The declaration is signed by 500 individual Americans and organizations -- including this writer -- the who pledge support for fully restoring Constitutional rights and human rights in a United States steered dangerously off course during the Bush interregnum.

The Declaration is part of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee's "People's Campaign for the Constitution," which has been launched to organize grassroots coalitions in communities across the country to demand that 2008 election candidates get serious about renewing rights that have been seriously undermined and threatened during the Bush-Cheney interregnum.

Here's the link to the People's Campaign for the Constitution

4. Message for Progressives, Democratic Lefists, Liberals: Take Back the Flag

Paul Slansky at Huffington Post

Of all the stupid things done by the anti-war crowd, the most gratuitously moronic was allowing the sanctimonious hypocrites of the right to co-opt the nation's most basic icon, its flag. The emblem of the country's highest aspirations was mindlessly ceded to the holier-than-thou zealots who used it as a bludgeon against the less fanatical.

Having unburdened itself of patriotism, the left proceeded over the years to also give away religion, national security and, finally, the elections themselves, but this devolution, into the pathetic puddle of unprincipled, acquiescent wimpiness that the Democrats have become, started with -- or rather, without -- the flag. It's hard to remember a presidential election in which that cavalier surrender hasn't exacted a serious price.

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