It’s not merely an excuse to cook hot dogs and blow things up
American freedom is facing an existential crisis. This is not—not entirely—because of the determined and persistent efforts of progressives to undermine most of the Bill of Rights; those efforts matter, but they are almost secondary to the broader problem, which is one of apathy. Americans are apt to forget just what it is we have here; we are apt to forget what the Fourth of July means, and what it signifies.
You can see this most clearly on campus today: The vicious and growing hatred of free speech; the ceaseless trashing of America, of American history, of American government, of American values; the relentless attacks on due process in the form of campus rape tribunals and Title IX kangaroo courts; the opposition to religious plurality and tolerance. The modern American university is, in microcosm, a good encapsulation of many of the major problems affecting American society today.
These nasty values, of course, are increasingly spilling over into the broader culture. And that is a larger problem. The freedoms that we have taken for granted for decades and centuries do not just spring into existence on their own; they are vanishingly rare, not just from a historical perspective but in present-day terms as well. There is not a country in Europe that affords its citizens free speech protections the likes of which are found in America; there is no other country in the world in which the right to bear arms is a basic civic assumption; for goodness’s sake, our foundational document presumes the right of the people to overthrow their own government. These are unique and precious freedoms. They came to be only after a long series of difficult choices by men and women who had no guarantee of success. We are inestimably lucky to have them.
This Fourth of July, remember that. Remember that the campus social justice warriors are wrong; remember that their counterparts on progressive cable television are wrong as well, and that their efforts to dismantle our invaluable liberties should be resisted at every opportunity. This holiday is not merely an excuse to grill out, drink beer and watch colorful explosions (though those things are very fun); it is a chance to remember why this country exists, why it has endured, and why we should rededicate ourselves every year to the continuation of the freedom with which we have been so long blessed.