The Fourth of July is a conundrum. On the one hand, it’s the high summer holiday, replete with the many joys of the season: pool parties and beach trips, beers and barbecues, parades and fairs. On the other, you’re celebrating something objectively shitty: America.
The star-spangled banner is everywhere; it’s hard to forget that this is an occasion made to reinforce patriotic feeling and elevate the meaning of a shallow “freedom” — the freedom to take a day off and knock back some cold ones, essentially.
In years past, you might have been able to stomach the self-congratulatory vibes of the Fourth without much fuss. Today, however, we’re having a national debate about exactly how many migrant children have to die in our concentration camps before we’ve crossed a moral rubicon. We see countless links to crowdfunding pages for people at risk of bankruptcy due to basic medical expenses. There’s no reason to think we can save the parts of the United States likely to drown or burn in the decades of climate change ahead. In the middle of it all, Trump is again demanding that tanks roll through Washington. American exceptionalism was always stupid, but now it’s a total joke.
Your friends and family may not be so pessimistic, of course. Odds are, they want to forget all that stuff and have a good time. So! How to ruin the cookout for them? Here’s what to say.
The Date Itself: Bullshit
You might start with a little lecture on how July 4th is a random, unimportant date in our country’s history: The Continental Congress actually declared independence on July 2nd, and the Fourth simply happens to be the date on Jefferson’s written document — which, by the way, the Founding Fathers didn’t even sign until August, contrary to his bullshit. That famous scene of all the delegates putting their names to the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 4th? A BALD-FACED LIE.
In light of this, any party on the Fourth automatically defaults to an observance of the next most important anniversary that falls on this cursed square of the calendar: Post Malone’s birthday.
Every Part of It: Bad
Even with this historical context, people will try to find solace in the customary trappings of the holiday. Don’t let them. Grilling hot dogs and sausages? Congratulations, you’re well on the way to cancer — especially if you like a nice char. Excited for the fireworks later on? Then I guess you don’t care that a night of sporadic loud explosions can be terribly stressful for dogs and veterans with PTSD. Not exactly respecting the troops! Taking a dip in the pool? I peed in it. The National Anthem? Doesn’t slap. Baseball? Boring. The sun? It’s just gas. Shooting off a bunch of guns? Serious tiny dick energy.
Its History: Racist
And hey, it’s not like people haven’t tried to salvage the Fourth as a holiday. After the Civil War, the formerly Confederate states were loath to mark the occasion, while black people in the south embraced festivities that commemorated abolitionists and emancipation. Of course, “whites deeply resented their former slaves turning the Fourth into a commemoration of black liberty,” and the proud tradition of dunking on previously slaveholding shitheads every July was quashed as the Reconstruction era gave way to Jim Crow.
Imagine it: We could have had a Fourth that was all about triggering racists. Instead, the secessionists hijacked the narrative and demanded you get horny for the flag they fought against. A pretty clear sign of where we’d wind up in 2019, honestly.
America’s Legacy: A Disaster
When you get right down to it, we shouldn’t need the government’s blessing or encouragement to hang out shirtless in a social setting, binge-eat processed meat and blow fingers off with illegal pyrotechnics. Stamping the stars and stripes on any of that is redundant. Better to tell Uncle Sam to fuck off while we can — before they start levying a fine for it — and own up to the disaster of our outsize influence on the world.
If anything, the Fourth could be juncture of pleasant surprise at clearing a very low bar: “Hey, we made it another year without somehow nuking ourselves! All right, everybody!” To extend the pride further strains reality as we know it. Please, spend the long weekend as you see fit, but if you want to embody the national spirit, you won’t thank the architects of our current hell for the privilege. There’s nothing American about gratitude.