Don’t Let Spoilsports Rain On Your 4th Of July Parade
A version of this column ran in The Virginian-Pilot July 3, 2011.
A few things you can count on during this Fourth of July:
Flags. Fireworks. And that four-fingered dude down the street detonating illegal explosives.
And one more thing, an appearance by spoilsports determined to drain every ounce of fun from any national party. The guys who materialize every October to remind us that Christopher Columbus brought smallpox to the New World and two months later to tell us that Christmas is a pagan festival with Baby Jesus thrown in as an after-thought.
Looking forward to a day off? Thinking about those dogs you're going to throw on the grill and watching bombs bursting in air after sunset?
A couple of eggheads - including one from Harvard - want you to think twice before flying your flag or taking your kids to a parade.
They essentially claim that the Fourth of July is a phony patriotic event that appeals only to the unwashed - those would be conservatives - and has virtually nothing to offer more enlightened folks.
In fact, taking your offspring to a July Fourth parade, especially on a sunny day, practically guarantees that he'll someday sneak off to Young Republican meetings and name his first-born Ronald Reagan. Even if it's a girl.
Can you sense the shame? Don't take my word for it. Read what these intellectuals had to say for yourself, as reported in U.S. News & World Report.
"Fourth of July celebrations in the United States shape the nation's political landscape by forming beliefs and increasing participation, primarily in favor of the Republican Party," wrote Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam. "... There is a political congruence between the patriotism promoted on Fourth of July and the values associated with the Republican party. Fourth of July celebrations in Republican dominated counties may thus be more politically biased events that socialize children into Republicans."
As you read this, no doubt Professor Hyphen and his sidekick are ensconced in a dank Cambridge garret - wearing earplugs so as not to hear the sounds of people having fun - trying to unravel the sinister plot behind Thanksgiving.
Sorry, Harvard harridans, the Fourth is for everyone. Conservatives and liberals agree on this for sure: Declaring independence from that island in the North Atlantic with terrible food and wacky monarchs was a good idea.
You can expect other holiday assaults as well.
Before the day is over, history know-it-alls will fill airtime on cable TV bloviating about how little Americans understand about our country. They'll point out that, contrary to common beliefs, the Declaration of Independence probably wasn't signed on July 4, 1776. It was merely adopted that day.
They'll snicker that we should light our sparklers on Aug. 2, a more likely date for most of the signatures.
Geez. So what if our highly romanticized image of a room full of dandies in knickers and powdered wigs bravely affixing their signatures to a document on the Fourth of July didn't happen exactly that way? I'm pretty sure Mary and Joseph didn't trudge into Bethlehem on Dec. 24, either. Yet I still like Christmas.
These are holidays. Spare us the inconvenient details.
Absolutely no one can contend that the Continental Congress didn't do something big in the summer of 1776. Had John Hancock and the boys decided to make this bold move in January of that year, Independence Day would be an indoor celebration.
And turkey would be involved.
So let's pause to give thanks that our Founding Fathers saw fit to adopt the Declaration of Independence while the weather was warm.
Reason enough to shoot off a few fireworks.