Should the US Independence Day (4th of July) be celebrated?


Fact Box

  • The Fourth of July has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence.
  • The tradition of setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day. Ship cannons fired a 13-gun salute in honor of the 13 colonies.
  • The point of July Fourth is to celebrate the ideals of this country’s inception.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to take necessary safety precautions this Independence Day. Addressing the recent spike in coronavirus cases, Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said, 'For the Fourth of July, which is a family event, we want to emphasize that it’s really important that we get back to being vigilant as our collective commitment ... to protect vulnerable friends, family, community.'

Mandy (Yes)

America's Declaration of Independence is a remarkable achievement in world history. Not just a document justifying independence from England; it's a decree recognizing and solidifying individual rights as distinct from government. The US was the first country to declare rights come to us from a Creator higher than government and to design a government 'by the people, for the people.'

America was the first to elevate the ideal 'all men are created equal.' Detractors argue the Founders purposefully excluded slaves and women, but the founders knew the country would catch up to its transcendent ideals as 'every leading Founder acknowledged slavery was wrong. Slavery was legal and practiced in every state in 1776 [but] by the end of the founding era more than a hundred thousand slaves had been freed by the outlawing of slavery in seven of the original thirteen states.' Women did have varying rights between the states, and in New Jersey, 'women voted in elections routinely during the 1790s and early 1800s for the first time anywhere in world history.'

Even Fredrick Douglas referred to the Founders in his famous Independence Day speech as 'brave men...and great men too.' He then praises them more, saying, 'They were statesmen, patriots, and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.' Douglas understood America had the potential to be the freest country for everyone everywhere. These ideals are what fueled the abolition of slavery and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, a uniquely American achievement as slavery was practiced universally for millennia up to this point.

America remains a place where historically unprecedented diversity and liberty have coexisted. No nation is perfect, but we should celebrate America for overcoming her flaws and offering extensive freedoms thanks to the ideals established at her founding.

Kevin (No)

The USA was, according to the Declaration of Independence, founded on principles of equality and liberty. However, those principles have been betrayed, practically since day one. The displacement and genocide of Native Americans and slavery began with the earliest colonies, and arguably continues to this day. Once free of British rule, the US started a campaign of imperialism itself, the effects of which are still felt in many places. Although we no longer establish actual colonies, our hundreds of military bases in more than 70 countries still qualify the US as an empire in the minds of some. These are not the actions of people who truly believe that 'all men are created equal' and have the right to 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.'

On the subject of liberty, Americans claim to value freedom, yet, although the US only accounts for 5% of the world's population as a whole, incarcerated people in the US make up 20% of the world's prison population. Economic mobility has been declining since the 1940's, and many more millennials are worse off than their parents, compared to previous generations. This economic situation takes on a more sinister aspect in light of the criminalization of poverty. Likewise, citizens of the US are under constant surveillance from corporations, police, and our own intelligence agencies, and the response to recent protests against police brutality was more brutality. It's little wonder that the US is listed as a 'flawed democracy' in The Economist Intelligence Unit's 2019 Democracy Index, where it ranks 25th on the list. How can we celebrate independence when we aren't truly free?

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