America as Camelot

July 4, 2014 at 12:54 am Leave a comment

As I try to move past the MZB scandal, my thoughts turn to other disturbing news about two Supreme Court rulings- one has been a long time in coming about the Hobby Lobby case- for a little background, in the United States legally corporations are considered “persons” (according to a previous B.S. ruling) that have “free speech” that they can use their money to express. Hobby Lobby argues that private companies also have “religious freedom” which is being curtailed by the Affordable Care Act, in requiring employers to cover medical care (certain contraceptives) that violates their version of Christianity. 

The other case is that a “buffer zone” that protesters are not allowed to enter near clinics that offer abortions, is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech. Well, we all ready have the freedom, thanks to the late Fred Phelps to picket funerals. So, anytime some type of medical care is taking place that violates my religious beliefs (or secular ethical beliefs?) I can harass people who are trying to get it.  Totally what the Founding Fathers intended! 

Anyway, as I was thinking about how Marion fell far short of her publicly held feminist beliefs in her private life, it made me think of how the idealized vision of America is a lot like King Arthur’s utopian vision of Camelot. It was never real, it was always a fantasy. This country was founded on the backs of slaves and conquest. The movement towards independence began with a protest against taxation without representation. It was more about the interests of certain land-owners and merchants rather than most regular people. Have things really changed all that much? Are we are really being represented by our government? Who do they really serve? 

Now I’m not saying the American ideals of liberty, equality and justice for all are not worth holding and fighting for. I remember shaking my head in disbelief at a friend when she told me she wanted to move to be with her husband’s family in Saudi Arabia. She said she wanted to raise her children with the Arab culture and Muslim religion. I did not object to those things, but I felt like asking her- what about teaching your sons the value of democracy, gender equality, freedom of speech and religion? I know American culture has many flaws, and we fail many times to live up to those values. But what example will they get of a mother who leaves her country and culture behind? I had some other friends who decided to leave- for of all places, Russia after Bush II ascended the throne, and I got the impression that they would return after Obama was elected. I disgustedly considered them fairweather friends- the sort of people who give liberals a bad name by affirming the common accusation that we aren’t patriotic. They actually stayed there- apparently due to the low cost of living (including healthcare), and because they had an easier time finding decent jobs. Go figure. 

No, some of us embrace a different kind of patriotism- as Mark Twain once said “Loyalty to country- always. Loyalty to the government- only when it deserves it.” Some of us look to the legacies of the abolitionists, the labor unionists, the pacifists, the American Indians and Mexicans who fought for their land and way of life. For the African-Americans, Asian-Americans, disabled Americans, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans folk, and women of many cultures who challenged us to broaden our definition of American- of humanity. For the millions in our prisons and jails who don’t get true justice, while private companies profit from their suffering. For the young men and women who think joining our military is a ticket to an education, a way out of poverty, to nobly serve our country, when they fight for Halliburton and Big Oil, and end up being traumatized and injured and getting forgotten and lost on the streets when they return. Our songs are that of the protest singers, the slave spirituals, the Civil Rights anthems like “We Shall Overcome”, the peace march chants. We have our own heroes, our own stories. They might not be celebrated or told as part of a Hallmark/Disney or other corporate sponsored Fourth of July special. But they are far more true and powerful than the stories that are told in so many schools about people who really cared more about their own interests and property than they claimed. 

 

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Entry filed under: Civil Liberties, History, Religious Right. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Fallen Idol: Marion Zimmer Bradley Independence Day Linkfest

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