The Thinking 

Quintessentially American Fireworks

July 6, 2012



I’ve posted a rather serious article on my blog on the New York Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks. I found them incredible. They were truly spectacular.

I say in my post that it is a sign that America is truly great. It sounds trivial to gauge a country’s greatness by its firework displays, but I think only Americans can give us such a display.

But, on a darker note, it seems to me that such spectacles are a way to distract ordinary people from thinking too much, and there is much to think about these days: health care, immigration, technological losses to places like China, race relations, loss of religion, loss of culture, etc.

Communist countries orchestrated spectacles regularly, partly to show off their might (or their supposed might), and partly to lull their people – deafen them – with all that “noise.”

I compare these spectacular fireworks with these tried techniques. By keeping the people happy and sedated, the government can do what it wants.

What do you think?

 Laura writes:

If you fly across the country on the night of July Fourth, you can see dozens of fireworks displays in the sky below —  high above beaches, campsites, small towns, big cities, lakes and hills. In our backyard, I can hear the booms from several towns and see fireworks above the trees if it’s clear. I have seen fireworks over the mall in Washington, D.C., over the Charles River in Cambridge, above a lake in Vermont, above the Atlantic Ocean and in suburban parks. Everyone loves fireworks. There is something elemental about them, with their bursting stars and erupting flowers, flowing lava and pulsing amoeba.

And yet these mega displays ultimately fill us with wonder of modern technology. It all seems worth it. I guess that is the only dark message I see written in the sky. Many simple pleasures are lost, but we have multimillion dollar fireworks shows instead. It is a form of mass consolation and stupefication in that sense.

As much as I love fireworks, I will take the sky on a dark night, when the stars are sharply defined, or a bonfire in the woods over a show from Macy’s.

— Comments —–

Lawrence Auster writes:

For many years I have had the good fortune to be able to view New York City’s July Fourth (and New Year’s) fireworks shows from excellent vistas atop high-rise apartment buildings on Riverside Drive overlooking the Hudson River. They are an ever-renewed wonder to behold. They are not just mind-boggling technical displays, which they are, they are works of art, and each year the designers of these shows come up with new and wonderful creative ideas.

But I don’t care anymore. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obamare decision, which in principle ended American liberty, anyone who continues celebrating July Fourth as before, as though nothing had changed, as though America were still the free country that is celebrated on July Fourth, is validating the leftist revolution by helping the left pretend that America is still a free country and that everything is ok. Everything is not ok. I will not attend or watch any future Independence Day commemorations. The only way I will observe Independence Day in the future will be by wearing a black arm band.

Laura writes:

I was going to say in response that America is more than its laws and institutions, it’s a people and a culture. But Fourth of July is the day when we celebrate our laws and institutions. So your idea of avoiding all Fourth of July observances in light of what has happened is entirely reasonable.

However, for me, Fourth of July is more than a celebration of government, so I would not entirely abstain from all observance of it. I can honor some of the principles for which Fourth of July has  stood.

Laura adds:

Lydia Sherman describes an appropriate celebration here:

At the sound of the marching music from a CD player, bout a dozen citizens of this small hamlet lined up at the house on their bikes or on foot, and slowly moved toward the grounds of the meeting house. The parade went at a snail’s pace, waving to the imaginary crowds on either side, ending at the old steps with the iron gate, where one of the men stood and made a speech. Much of that speech was recorded in my previous post called, “A Nation Built on Belief.”

Our only audience was a Cajun man who grew up in the French Quarter, and his wife. Both of them, though well-travelled, said that they had “never experienced anything like this in our lives.” Whether that was a positive or negative comment, we do not know, but they clapped enthusiastically as the parade passed by.

His speech was interrupted several times by applause and reminders to vote for him. I was not sure what office he was running for but I’ve never heard a better political speech in my life, nor one so enthusiastically received. He won the election.

He finished his speech grandly by kissing a baby.

The sacrificial watermelon was then retrieved from my basket and cut and served to all the participants.

So folks, and especially you with big families, dogs, ponies, bicycles, tricycles, wagons, baby prams and strollers, lawn mowers, and anything with wheels–you can all have a parade at home. If you have no wheels, just dress as you like, and walk slowly, following a leader, singing your favorite song and holding a few flags.

Until we have a new nation, we will have to celebrate an imaginary one. My point in offering Lydia’s anecdote is that it is not appropriate to wear black arm bands with children. They want to be part of the festivities and deserve a sense of hopefulness about the future.

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