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When in the course of human events
July 4, 2005 11:33 AM   Subscribe

The Declaration of Independence It's meant to be read aloud
posted by warbaby (46 comments total)

 
Double post.
posted by mediareport at 11:39 AM on July 4, 2005


I read it aloud but I still don't get it.

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posted by unSane at 11:40 AM on July 4, 2005


The official, signed Declaration of Independence.
posted by ericb at 11:41 AM on July 4, 2005


Thomas Jefferson's Account of the Declaration.
posted by ericb at 11:42 AM on July 4, 2005


Most predictable FPP ever.
posted by Chasuk at 11:58 AM on July 4, 2005


Most predictable criticism ever.

I heard it read out loud on Saturday, thanks!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:11 PM on July 4, 2005


Happy Birthday, USA
posted by matteo at 12:15 PM on July 4, 2005


You've got to be kidding me.

(Um, "you" = warbaby, not matteo)
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on July 4, 2005


Happy birthday, Nathaniel Hawthorne (born today in 1804).

Happy birthday, Koko (born today in 1971).

Happy birthday, Mickey Rooney Jr. (born today in 1945).

Or:

Happy birthday, Geraldo Rivera (born today in 1943).
posted by Chasuk at 12:37 PM on July 4, 2005


And George Steinbrenner, Chasuk!
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:38 PM on July 4, 2005


I am proud to be an American, and I am certain that in the future, years such as 1917 and 1944 will again unfold.
Once again, the mean, terrible, cruel, and dominative USA will do what it has always done.

It is sad to see so many people hate a nation solely on the events of a short period of recent history.
posted by buzzman at 12:39 PM on July 4, 2005


Also: Podcasts via Colonial Williamsburg at History.org.

I am proud to be an American, and I am certain that in the future, years such as 1917 and 1944 will again unfold.
Once again, the mean, terrible, cruel, and dominative USA will do what it has always done.


Can you elaborate on what you mean here?
posted by dhoyt at 12:52 PM on July 4, 2005


I am glad to have been born a USian. It certainly has its perks. I spent a decade in the USAF ostensibly defending those perks. However, whenever I read/hear someone express the sentiment "I am proud to be an American," I hastily don my patriotic t-shirt which reads:

I feel self-esteem
because I emerged
from the birth canal
of a woman
who owed allegiance
to a country
in North America
bordering the
Atlantic, Pacific
and Arctic oceans.
I also feel proud to
be bipedal.
Sometimes, I feel
proud to be vertebrate.
posted by Chasuk at 12:57 PM on July 4, 2005


A pretty cool site could come of people reading parts or all of the Declaration and uploading their recordings, to be remixed freely.
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:10 PM on July 4, 2005


I think it would be cool if people read parts of their favorite cookie recipes, and uploaded them to a central site where they could be remixed freely. That way, we would get really imaginative NEW recipes like "Snickerdoodle Peanut Butter Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies," and other cool combinations.

Not quite as cool as remixed Declaration of Independence readings, I'll admit, but still pretty awesome!
posted by Chasuk at 1:23 PM on July 4, 2005


The most profound document in human history, in my opinion. Always worth posting, reading, and pondering.

And chasuk: thank you for your service -- but WTF does that mean? You're as "proud" of being an American -- something you had no choice in -- as you are to be proud of being a biped, something else you had no choice in? Please tell me you're being intentionally foolish on this point.
posted by davidmsc at 2:33 PM on July 4, 2005


I heard recently that the Declaration of Independence is historically the first significant document that declares that "all men are created equal." Ignore for a moment that the authors didn't necessarily intend this to extend to women or Africans, and that's just f*cking awesome.

I especially like the fact that we celebrate *this* date and not a date connected to some military triumph, because it is the sentiments in this document that -- more than anything else -- say what it is to be American.

And for the record, I'm a Bush-hating lefty like the rest of you.
posted by Slothrup at 2:38 PM on July 4, 2005


davidmsc:

WTF does it mean? The intention was mockery. Jingoism always makes me nauseous, so being outdoors in the months immediately post-9/11 was an especial tribulation. This t-shirt was my rebellion, my way of maintaining some sanity. That, and a social commentary.

I thought the mockery was obvious. I guess I was wrong. :-(
posted by Chasuk at 2:55 PM on July 4, 2005


Chasuk: The mockery could not have been more clear. Davidmsc is probably the type of guy who would read "A Modest Proposal" and go, "What?!? Eating babies? That would be wrong!"
posted by Justinian at 3:11 PM on July 4, 2005


Yes, I understand -- but merely hearing someone state that he is "proud to be an American" is enough to make you nauseous? How can you tell whether it is said "jingoistically" or not? No offense - I just don't understand the linkage between the false pride evidenced by your t-shirt, and quite probably true pride expressed by Americans in their commitment to American ideals.
posted by davidmsc at 3:20 PM on July 4, 2005


People do have a choice on being an American...either in "huddled masses" becoming one, or by-birth Americans leaving the country and renouncing their citizenship.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:20 PM on July 4, 2005


What a disappointment this post hasn't been deleted yet.

the Declaration of Independence is historically the first significant document that declares that "all men are created equal." Ignore for a moment that the authors didn't necessarily intend this to extend to women or Africans

Wtf? Why on earth would anyone want to "ignore for the moment" that the declaration of equality only applied to white men? Or that one of the only substantive changes to Jefferson's early drafts was the elimination of the indictment of the king for tolerating the slave trade?

Come on, the American Revolution is far from the greatest model for overthrowing tyranny. It was fine for the time, I suppose, and asserted an anti-royalist sentiment that needed to be heard, but it was hardly the most noble insurrection in human history to that point. One that defiantly included an attack on human slavery would have been far more noble.

Jeez, let's keep a bit of perspective here.
posted by mediareport at 4:23 PM on July 4, 2005


dhoyt, there is not bandwidth enough to contain my enthusiam as a patriot.
posted by buzzman at 4:52 PM on July 4, 2005


Unsane quoted: "Please contact the Web server's administrator if the problem persists."

sorry warbaby was made these post because a error. Administrator! Please hope me!
posted by ZachsMind at 5:15 PM on July 4, 2005


davidmsc:

I am only proud of something if my actions resulted in, or influenced, it occurring/existing. I am proud of a few of my own accomplishments (sadly, VERY few), and of the accomplishments of my children. I am not proud of anything which, as you put it, "[I] had no choice in."

Jingoism is simply extreme patriotism, and any patriotism is extreme when it is for something that the individual had no choice in. I don't have the time to give this the attention that it deserves, but I consider patriotism to be an unnecessary evil 100% of the time. I am committed to many (not all) American ideals, but that is not generally what is being expressed by the sentiment "I am proud to be an American." Usually, these words are spoken by the same lovely folks who says things like "My country, right or wrong," and "Lovee it or leave it."
posted by Chasuk at 5:36 PM on July 4, 2005


I am a member of subgroups that are not equal under the law yet, and I've suffered for it.
I loathe BushCo with the heat of a thousand burning oil wells.
I despise tax-exempt religious nutballs trying to shove their narrowminded madness into law.
I shudder at idiotic, unthinking jingoistic patriotism.
I've frequently thought about moving to Canada.
And yes, I am disgusted by some thoughts buried deep in the "Declaration," such as the merciless Indian Savages.
And no part of the "Declaration" probably stirs me as much as the "I Have a Dream" speech.

And yet, in parts, that is one damn fine piece of writing. In all ways - style and substance.

Yes, it's too bad that just to please some sour MeFites old Tom didn't quite have it in him to mentally leap 2.5 centuries into a liberal 21st-century frame of mind. That he didn't mention the oppression of women, Natives, blacks and gays. (As "Jefferson" himself says in the foreward to Jon Stewart's "America": "I still can't believe I owned slaves!") Or that he didn't leave out the "Creator" stuff.

And it is dreadfully wearying that the people of this country have failed so miserably so many times to live up to the spirit of those letters.

But none of that takes away from the basic beauty inherent in the words, that of mankind striving to be free and to better itself.
posted by NorthernLite at 6:21 PM on July 4, 2005


Usually, these words are spoken by the same lovely folks who says things like "My country, right or wrong

It infuriates me that the left has allowed these throwbacks to define American patriotism, to define what the flag means, and to define what America stands for.

I am proud to be an American.

America is a vision. It has always had corruption and shady dealing and appalling policy decisions, but there's no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water- at its core it's worth fighting to keep that vision: equality, new beginnings, a chance to make things better for your children, freedom to say and think what you like without getting hassled- you know the drill.

Americans have more weapons to fight back against a corrupt and bullying administration (through court systems and the constitution) than a lot of countries' people have.

All those assholes who want to abandon America to the fundies and corporations now that things aren't going their way- don't let the door hit you on the way out. You may have the right to live here but you don't deserve to, if you won't fight to make it what it could be.

Our situation isn't any more dire than the robber baron era. Things changed, through a lot of sacrifice by a lot of people. Cynical despair is more fashionable, and probably always has been, but it won't fix things. We have to roll up our sleeves, get dirty, and be examples for the next generation of what Americans ought to be. That's what a patriot is- someone who fights the unglamorous battle to make their country stand for what it ought to stand for.

/end rant

and, on preview, what NorthernLite said, and said better than I can.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:30 PM on July 4, 2005


also, on july 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence, both john adams and thomas jefferson died, apparently hours apart. john adams' dying words were "thomas jefferson still survives." makes me kinda wonder...
posted by brandz at 6:56 PM on July 4, 2005


As I understand it one finds fragile self-esteem, a need for constant attention and admiration, fishing for compliments (often with great charm), an expectation of superior entitlement and deference from others together with a lack of sensitivity especially when others do not react in the expected manner, are also hallmarks worth noting. There is often greed, an expectation to receive before and above the needs of others, overworking of those around them, and abusing special privileges and squandering extra resources that feature.
posted by peacay at 8:07 PM on July 4, 2005


Ooops! Wrong thread.
Sorry, does the bus to the narcissistic thread leave from this corner does anybody know?
posted by peacay at 8:09 PM on July 4, 2005


Our proudest document, perhaps matched by our constitution, to be sure. However, read these sections and remember our actions in Iraq:

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
. . .

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

posted by publius at 8:56 PM on July 4, 2005


Usually, these words are spoken by the same lovely folks who says things like "My country, right or wrong," and "Lovee it or leave it."

Anyone who says "lovee it or leave it" is either a bad stereotype of a Chinese Laundry owner, or possibly Thurston Howell III.
posted by jonson at 10:42 PM on July 4, 2005


The Declaration of Independence, or A Declaration of Independence.

Metafilter: American, or international?
posted by wilful at 10:47 PM on July 4, 2005


Anyone who says "lovee it or leave it" is either a bad stereotype of a Chinese Laundry owner, or possibly Thurston Howell III.

LOL. I did proofread, I promise! :-)
posted by Chasuk at 11:46 PM on July 4, 2005


davidmsc : "Always worth posting"

Every day is link-to-the-American-Declaration-Of-Independence-day on Metafilter!

davidmsc : "I just don't understand the linkage between the false pride evidenced by your t-shirt, and quite probably true pride expressed by Americans in their commitment to American ideals."

The linkage is that both are pride for something that was just a matter of blind luck/fate. It's pointing out that the "real pride" of being an American makes about as much sense as the hypothetical pride of being a biped.

small_ruminant : "define what the flag means"

It doesn't "mean" anything, it's a flag. It represents America, and that's pretty much agreed on by both liberals and conservatives. It would be a rare person to think that it means "Canada" or "beef" or "thirty-seven" or "perspicacious".

small_ruminant : "America is a vision."

America is a country.

small_ruminant : "That's what a patriot is- someone who fights the unglamorous battle to make their country stand for what it ought to stand for."

Nah, that's what a good patriot is. A patriot is just someone who loves their country.
posted by Bugbread at 12:04 AM on July 5, 2005


publius writes "Our proudest document, perhaps matched by our constitution, to be sure. However, read these sections and remember our actions in Iraq:"

Flagged fantastic, deserves to be read agin, and publius added as a contact.
posted by orthogonality at 12:48 AM on July 5, 2005


I prefer to read the Declaration of Impeachment aloud
posted by thedoctorpants at 3:36 AM on July 5, 2005


I am disgusted by some thoughts buried deep in the "Declaration," such as the merciless Indian Savages.

You are aware, are you not, that back in the 18th century Indians—excuse me, Native Americans—were not the nobly suffering casino owners you're familiar with, but independent nations who were in fact merciless in combat, torturing captured prisoners with enthusiasm? You are aware that the British used them as auxiliaries against the American rebels, much as they used Hessian mercenaries? Why would you expect the Americans to have any kinder feelings towards the Indians—excuse me, Native Americans—than they did towards the Hessians? Do you seriously think modern political correctness should be expected to magically extend back across the ages, causing our forefathers to express themselves more kindly and gently? Does it also upset you when you read the nasty things medieval Europeans had to say about the Mongols? The lack of historical perspective around here sometimes astounds me.

Otherwise, an excellent defense of the Declaration, which is indeed a damn fine piece of writing.
posted by languagehat at 6:15 AM on July 5, 2005


I am proud to be an American

Feeling proud of something you had no control over is rank arseholery of the most primitive kind. And it's a form of rank arseholery the USA seems to suffer from particularly badly.

Chasuk's T-shirt has it right.

I couldn't give a shit about my nationality. So I was born in place A rather than place B? Big deal. Luck of the draw. I had absolutely nothing to do with it so how the hell can I feel proud about it? If you must indulge in that nasty, common, vulgar, self-regarding little feeling then at least take pride in your own achievements, not a bloody accident of birth.
posted by Decani at 6:17 AM on July 5, 2005


Feeling proud of something you had no control over is rank arseholery of the most primitive kind. And it's a form of rank arseholery the USA seems to suffer from particularly badly.

well, you have some control over being an american. People immigrate to this country, and people emigrate as well. There are certainly people who hold an unfortunate blind pride in symbols and not ideas, but there is also a kind of recognition that is justified, I think. The declaration and the constitution are powerful historical documents; for whatever failings they had, and they certainly were not perfect, they mark a major turning point in governmental history. Many european countries still have lords & monarchs, who may have no real power, but who still validate the traditional roles.

It's certainly true that in the modern age, america has bred its own royalty via capitalism & inheritance, and this is a problem. (This is why I think a strong estate tax is a completely american policy.) Even so, the documents that set out to begin a country where all men were equal, where there was no royalty or class system, but every individual was to prove his own worth, are significant. And the fact that they were imperfect is in a way a window into another one of their strengths, which is that the constitution was specifically made to be amended: it was not meant to be the final answer, but to be the grounding basis for working out the best answer. We can, if we're willing to stay involved, continue to improve things.

I don't think we need to choose between rank assholery and complete dismissal. There's room for thoughtful acknowledgment. And I don't see why these things can't be global to a certain extent - it doesn't need to be a competition (there will probably be some acknowledgment of bastille day in a couple weeks, e.g.).
posted by mdn at 6:52 AM on July 5, 2005


I guess I care a lot about the "mythical America," as Jacob Needleman put it, and I want to try to help and direct my neighbors' lives towards those ideals.

It makes me very angry to see the language of my tradition usurped, and to see children killed so some traitor can win an election. Even if we come to find that the laws can technically accomodate such actions, the perpetrators have clearly violated the spirit that is our nation's ideal. They have betrayed the heart.

---

The pride I feel as an American is not for the laws and infrastructure that outline the boundaries of our geography and demographics. It is for my neighbors and friends and love for our shared experience.

Part of that experience is what are often called "American ideals." Included among those are a sense of enterprise, desire for equality, the desire to act and speak as we find our selves pleased, the desire for a better life for our children and those less fortunate.

That doesn't mean that I can forget about the horrible things my ancestors have done, the repercussions of which I and the next generations will have to deal with, whether we like it or not. The same great Americans that gave us our lofty (and worthy) ideals instigated some of the greatest horrors imaginable on their fellow man.

Sorry, I'm too inarticulate to express my emotions. Trust, they are powerful, and they are not jingoy.

You can't section up your culture, it is of a piece. You can't leave your culture either, not really. It's imprint is on you forever. A great deal of my personal identity is a product of the huge and buzzing, extremely energy-inefficient and brightly-lit process that has dominated my environment since infancy, and I love it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:32 AM on July 5, 2005


yup. well said.

I find it weird that some people can't stand it and are offended if their neighbors or others don't want to wave the flag and shout slogans--who gives a shit? Isn't that part of our freedom--the freedom not to participate in mandatory "May day" or "great and glorious revolution" parades and displays? Some of us find it meaningless, like those "support our troops" ribbons on suvs. If it makes you happy, do it--but don't knock others for not feeling it the way you do.
posted by amberglow at 7:54 AM on July 5, 2005


great thing from Kos: ... The AP runs a Nedra Pickler story, the basic thrust of which can be seen from this one line: "When the insurgents write, 'we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' they fail to mention that most of the signers of the document are actually wealthy."

CNN picks up on the Adams-Jefferson angle from the Times, devoting their full political roundtable to speculating about this split. One commenter even goes after Abigail, saying, "Women like Hillary, um, Abigail really should remember their responsibilities at home." The rest of their news coverage is focused on the story of Chandra Schiavo, the young woman from the Vermont frontier that has been missing for two weeks. They speculate breathlessly that she was abducted by Native Americans.

MSNBC devoted one small piece to the entire story, ending with the anchor saying, "While one small group signed this letter of protest, the vast majority of colonists remain patriotic." They then went back to near constant coverage of Chandra Schiavo.

Fox News, of course, is the worst of the lot. Most of the coverage focuses on the "massive armada" under General Howe's command in New York. Here's a section of HANNITY & colmes: ...

posted by amberglow at 8:07 AM on July 5, 2005


You are aware, are you not, that back in the 18th century Indians'excuse me, Native Americans, were not the nobly suffering casino owners you're familiar with, but independent nations who were in fact merciless in combat, torturing captured prisoners with enthusiasm?

...The lack of historical perspective around here sometimes astounds me.


Why, how nice of you to assume that because I found the phrase "merciless Savages" jarring in this document that I knew nothing, absolutely nothing about the many *different* original inhabitants of the Americas and the Europeans.

Yes, I must think of all those many different kinds of nations/tribes as being one big "Crying Indian" PSA.

Or wait, perhaps *I* know that there were diverse nations/tribes, some of whom were fierce aggressors against the whites. (One man's terrorist being another's freedom fighter in all cases, not only colonist v. Brits but "Indians" v. colonist.)

And I know that some Natives had been warring, "small-s" savage nations that fought brutally against other tribes long before the whites came.

It's also a fact that some were peaceable hunters, some cultivated crops, and some (like the Chippewa/Ojibwe) were agrarians who had to become hunters as the whites pushed them northward out of the more fertile farmlands.

But I will not smugly assume that you don't know all the instances of how the Europeans and Euro-Americans treated the Natives - The smallpox blankets, the cheating treaties, the Trails of Tears, the Euro-American massacres of Natives.

These "Indians" could have used a Declaration themselves. Instead, we find them itemized in this document as generic Bad Guys.

"Savages" seems more fitting for incendiary propaganda, for a war speech. I view the Declaration as being more than that, so I stand by my claim that it is jarring.

The Declaration's lack of acknowledgement for specific oppressed groups is a sin of omission. The specific mention of "Savage" Natives is a sin of commission for me.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:57 AM on July 5, 2005


I find it odd that you can't muster the same sympathetic understanding for the (white male) Americans who wrote the Declaration that you can for the Indians, but I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Of course I'm well aware of the many injustices done to the Indians; I just think it's a lot easier to judge these things from over 200 years' distance. (And it seems clear to me that the reference is not to peaceable farmers, but specifically to the Indians turned loose against the rebels by the Brits, who were in fact extremely "savage," if you'll grant that the word has a meaning aside from being a term of obloquy.)
posted by languagehat at 9:56 AM on July 5, 2005


WTF does it mean? The intention was mockery.

Don't equate the policies of the government with the founding values of this country. That's just silly. One of those values was if your don't like your government, you get to vote them out. nice huh? You lose, you have to suck it up and wait a mere four years. If there was any time you did say, "I love america" remember that was an America still created from the DofI and U.S.C.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:25 PM on July 5, 2005


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