04 July 2008

The REAL "Mission Accomplished"

Today's gluttony will consist of a vegetarian barbecue, unless the vegetarian crawls out of the damned marinade again (cows are vegetarians). But before that, a few thoughts on the difference between a declaration and a victory.

The relatively recent criticism of George III — our George III, that is — for his declaration of "Mission Accomplished" should be some food for thought on this day that we Yanks celebrate declaring our independence. Not only did it take another seven years to actually enforce that declaration... but it wasn't even the same political entity. The Continental Congress was a precursor of the United States; but there was another nation between, that United States under the Articles of Confederation.

If we're going to celebrate "declaring victory," we should celebrate the Constitution that made this nation a survivable nation — not a formalized thumbing of the collective noses of a bunch of rich white guys at another rich white guy several thousand miles away. Although George III did not himself say "mission accomplished" (at least, not in that speech), the substance of the speech is that he was declaring victory. Similarly, our celebration of the date of our declaring independence tends to overshadow the values hinted at in the Declaration itself, and the struggle thereafter to both enforce the fact of independence and structure a government and society to make it last.

That won't stop me from having a helluva barbecue this afternoon and evening, but it does put almost as much of a damper on a considered celebration as does the Patriot Act.

* * *

Maybe we do have something to celebrate today. The most unAmerican US politician active in the last quarter-century finally bit the big one today. I cannot even find it in my cold, fishy heart to feel any sympathy for his family. And that's even aside from his relentless conservatism: It was his lifelong bigotry that offended me and was wholly inconsistent with the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution (even without various piddling amendments like the Bill of Rights), and both the Federalist and Antifederalist Papers.