‘It’s hard to be patriotic this Independence Day’

Recent court actions make it difficult for some to celebrate the 4th.

Not everyone is ready to celebrate this Fourth of July.

For many, the Fourth of July is synonymous with jubilation; fireworks, parades, hot dogs, and flashy displays of red, white, and blue. For others, it’s a day of reflection on the meaning behind patriotism.
This year, the Fourth marks the 246-year commemoration of the Second Continental Congress passing the U.S, Declaration of Independence, repudiating British rule and advocating for equitable freedom. Often credited as being the essence of Americana, the Declaration of Independence fell short on its promise for some. Since its ratification, the document failed to include both the genocides of indigenous communities and those who were abducted and forced into American slavery, which, until 1865, was still not federally illegal.
The declaration challenged the King of Great Britain: “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury,” one excerpt reads. “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people” — sentiments that even now, Americans can relate to with concern to the U.S. government.
Recent U.S. Supreme Court actions — the reversing of Roe v. Wade, and efforts to hinder climate change mitigation — add to local conversations, such as the Oak Bluffs select board’s refusal to acknowledge and raise the Juneteenth flag, a symbol of African American independence.
Current affairs add weight to the already troubled and solemn history regarding the relationship among the U.S. and indigenous and Black communities, and in turn, triggers some Americans to rethink the meaning of patriotism; some are declining to celebrate Independence Day altogether.
NAACP MV President Arthur Hardy-Doubleday told The Times that this year, finding cause to embrace and celebrate the holiday is particularly challenging. “It’s hard to be patriotic this Independence Day,” he said, “given the recent decisions of the Supreme Court.”
The Martha’s Vineyard Black Lives Matter organization, via member Lexi Lodd, issued a statement to The Times, in regard to the observance of July 4, which read, “As our country celebrates July 4th, MV BLM affirms the principles of a multiracial society outlined in the post-slavery amendments to our Constitution — necessary amendments to undo the violence and injustice enshrined in our country’s founding. The visionaries who fought for freedom, our second founders, released us from the establishment of slavery and tyranny. Their efforts offer a road map for the years ahead. We are in the grips of the most difficult struggle our nation has ever faced. We are committed to fight for equity, justice, and our democracy. We hope you will be with us in this struggle.”
Echoing the sentiment, Martha’s Vineyard Diversity Coalition, via Sandra Pimentel, stated, “While many of us who call ourselves Americans celebrate Independence Day with grateful delight, parades, and fireworks, the recent reflection on our history and the truth that relates to it helps us to understand that Independence Day does not generate the same feelings of joy for all of us. The Martha’s Vineyard Diversity Coalition believes that we as a people have the capacity to fully understand the reality of our history, and in the process of learning, we can come together in a way that allows all of us to feel and experience freedom equally and together.”

When speaking with The Times, the tribal historic preservation officer for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), Betinna Washington, highlighted that issues among the European newcomers and the native peoples started before the United States of America was formed. “We fight twice over for this country,” she said. “[For] our ancestral lands, and then in service to the country it is now.” Washington said there is a remarkably high percentage of Native Americans who serve in the U.S. military. The reason is, “it is a duty,” she said. On if and how the tribe as a whole celebrates Independence Day, Washington said perhaps individual tribal members choose to honor the day, but there is no event or activity designated for it.


  1. I agree, it has been clear for quite some time that our democracy is undergoing a stressful period.
    But we the people are still in charge.
    The recent SCOTUS decisions have happened because of the apathy and indifference of the people. Yes. here on the Vineyard, we have our comforting beliefs that if we occasionally protest at 5 corners things will work out.
    The liberals are naïve. The conservatives have tapped into a deep seated hatred and bigotry that seems poised to bring down America as we know it.
    We the people allowed Mitch McConnel to directly refuse to do his constitutional duty and refuse to have a hearing on Obama’s pick of a supreme court justice.
    We allowed him to change the rules for how many votes are needed to confirm a justice.
    Conversely, 5 years later we again allowed him to abuse the power of his office and push a trump nominee through the process while a presidential election was underway.
    We allowed it….

    We– yes we — everyone of us who decry this SCOTUS decision allowed it.
    The writing is on the wall about what is coming to America’s experiment in democracy. It is as clear as the looming climate catastrophe that will doom our children and future generations to live in an inhospitable environment.
    In 2016 only 54 % of eligible voters voted, allowing the floodgates of hatred and discrimination to begin the process of drowning our institutions and freedoms .

    It’s pretty bleak.

    Martin Luther King Jr. said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
    Let’s just hope he was right.

    • Enough of the doom and gloomers. If you don’t like it here there’s another 194 countries to choose from in the world. Go find one that fits your needs and desires. We’ll miss you…….not.

      • Agree John…… Deep seated hatred and bigotry poised to bring down America???? From where I sit, this describes this current unrecognizable Democratic Party. It is amazing how far they have drifted from what they once were.

        • The Republican Party is unrecognizable.
          It is amazing how far they have drifted under Trump’s influence.
          Not even one former President supports Trump.

          • This is not your father’s Republican Party.
            This is Trump’s Republican In Name Only Party.

      • John
        Spot on! For the last two years we have witnessed a group of people rage at this country and how terrible it is. And then those same people are aghast as to why there was so much anti American violence during this past Fourth. You cant constantly preach from the steps of the capital that we are victims and we can no longer stand bye and watch our democracy implode. That we need to take back our country with whatever means necessary or our children will not have a free country to live in.

        I don’t think my TV is broken but whenever I turn it on I only see people trying to get into this country, not out of it. And the reason is that it’s the greatest country in the world. And it’s funny to listen to some of those migrants describe fleeing their countries because of oppressive policies only to find that our leaders are trying to implement those very same policies now in this country.

        I have come to realize that this country has become the ultimate nanny state filled with people who are so weak and feeble only to be brought to tears by mean tweets and differing opinions. We have become a country of I want that but don’t want to work for it and it’s not fair that someone else has it so let’s take it and call it even.

      • andy– Parker said ” I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”

        Parker in fact never said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

        MLK may have borrowed the concept but is credited with the actual quote
        He said it many times in numerous speeches.
        Wrong again, andy.
        It must be tough for you to give MLK any credit

        • Keller you and Hess can swap technicalities but if I had copied this quote they way MLK did you would have accused me of plagiarism. You are a researcher Keller, please go and investigate how many times MLK plagiarized and you will find lots of evidence. I think MLK is a wonderful man but he had his problems like we all do.

          • andy — since you seem to anticipate that I will present an example of whataboutism, I will. Here is side by side comparison of Michell Obama’s and Malaria trump’s convention speeches : One minute 42 seconds
            As I recall, you agreed with the sentiment from the trump team and saw no sign of plagiarism ;

            “But Mr Trump’s team said Mrs Trump used “common words” and blamed Hillary Clinton for the row.
            “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech,” said Paul Manafort, Mr Trump’s campaign manager.
            “I mean, this is, once again, an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down,” he added.”

            It’s interesting that you can’t see obvious plagiarism when it is coming from a rich white woman, but can find it in every speech of an iconic civil rights leader.

          • Don,
            Have to give this one to Engelman. MLK’s speech wouldn’t pass the Turn It In Dot Com scrutiny test for plagiarism.

        • Keller. We were talking about MLK not Melanie. You know it is plagiarism but you are so int idolatry you can’t make yourself say it so you bring up what about ism

          • Andy– we were talking about plagiarism and our perception of whether a quote is or isn’t.
            If you don’t think Malaria plagiarized Michell’s speech, who are you to criticize MLK ?

    • Don,
      I believe Dick Durbin was the one who cracked the door open to change the rules for judicial appointments. You need to look no further than the Democratic Party as to how judges are now brought up for confirmation. Durbin was told that changing the rule to a simple majority for confirmation was a bad idea and when D’s are in the minority it will come back on us. And it did in spades. So for all those going after Manchin for not wanting to remove the filibuster you are playing the short game. Don’t Blame McConnell for playing buy the rules that the D’s changed. He outfoxed them and that is how politics is done.

      Also, MV lives in a bubble, almost a fantasy land. Half the country has different views and philosophies and just because you disagree with them doesn’t make you right and them wrong. All conservatives are not hateful racists as you often paint them all to be. One could argue you are the one full of hate and bigotry by constantly painting a certain group of people one way. You need to let Trump go. Your constant obsession with the man is going to make you ill.

      • Carl. Durbin nuked the filibuster for judicial nominees in 2013 because Mitch refused to move hearings along.
        I only mentioned trump as a the person that could appoint a SCOTUS nominee. I’ll worry more about my health if trump gets elected in 2024.
        Mitch didn’t play by the rules. That’s obvious.
        He just wasn’t called on his cheating. And cheating it was.
        Put me on the record here– for years conservative talk show hosts have been terrifying their cultist followers by telling them the dems are going to pack the court. Guess what is going to happen as soon as republicans get power ? Is that outsmarting or cheating ? It certainly is not following the spirit of the constitution.

  2. Up to a point you’ve got it, Don Keller. Too many of us have been asleep at the wheel for too long. But it started long before 2016. It started in earnest at the beginning of the Reagan administration (which, true, didn’t come out of nowhere), with the gradual dismantling of all the safeguards that gave “we the people” a fighting chance to hold our own against powerful economic interests. Gutting unions and environmental protections, slashing taxes for the very wealthy, starving the infrastructure that had enabled the middle class to grow and thrive for decades . . . And all the party of plutocrats had to do to defeat its critics was call them “socialists” or “soft on crime,” whereupon far too many of “we the people” were suckered into either believing it or trying to prove them wrong — by acting like plutocrats lite.

    I’ve been thinking a lot these days about the 1850s. In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act encouraged southern slaveholders to reach into the North to reclaim their escaped “property.” In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act cleared the way for slavery to be extended into the western territories, in the name of “popular sovereignty.” These and other outrages prompted many northerners who’d taken a “live and let live” position on slavery to reconsider. Too many of us have taken a “live and let live” position on a range of issues, as if all options are equally valid, equally viable. The Trump administration showed us just how fragile our institutions are, the 1/6 committee is showing us just how corrupt and anti-democratic the Trump administration was, and now the Supreme Court has handed down indefensible decisions on guns, environmental protection, public support for religious education, the rights of suspects, and women’s autonomy, one after another, bam bam bam. Do enough of us realize that the alternatives before us are not “six of one, half dozen the other”? Time will tell, and probably sooner rather than later.

  3. I am discouraged by the recent decision but what makes America a place to celebrate and be proud of is that people who oppose this decision can be vocal about it and work to change or dampen the result. So, I will take one day to reflect on the totality of the American Experiment which I believe is overwhelming positive. Then we can get back to work on the slow grind of progress. I am hopeful that strident yet civil discourse will make for a better tomorrow for all.

  4. The dems have certainly drifted from what they once were and nobody seems to care to remember or know their history.
    They are basically the same just wearing different clothes.

    • which is it , Woody ?
      Are they actually different, or do they just appear different ?
      You comment is mutually exclusive .

    • And the Republicans? Once of the party of Lincoln? Think there’s been any shift there?

  5. Being a Patriot is not supposed to be easy and it’s not something you do “when you feel like it” – it’s what you owe, for all this county is. If you don’t like some more hints you have the right and ability to change them. But you do also have the option of leaving.

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