First of all, don’t actually ‘celebrate’ it...
If you’re woke, then the Fourth of July can be a very triggering “holiday.” After all, it’s the celebration of the founding of the United States of America—a genocidal, colonialist, imperialist warmongering nation that, to this day, doesn’t even guarantee free health care and free condoms for everyone.
It’s possible that you’re marking this year’s Fourth all alone: Many of you may have chosen to remain on campus over the summer rather than return home to your close-minded, ultra-right-wing fascist families, the ones who drink nonorganic dairy milk and who can’t even be bothered to attend any anti-sweatshop protests throughout the year. If that’s the case, then here is a handy guide for “celebrating” the Fourth on your own:
Don’t buy fireworks. First of all, they’re probably illegal to set off out front of your dorm building. Second of all, fireworks are quite obviously symbolic tools of violent colonialist imperialism: Only the ultra-privileged among us could possibly find loud, explosive pyrotechnics “fun” rather than terrifying and triggering. If you must celebrate in some sort of fire-based medium, consider symbolically burning your laptop, which was probably made in China using non-union labor. (Be sure to write your parents and ask for another laptop, because you’ll need it once school starts up again.)
Grill responsibly. Meat is murder. So are most vegetables, which cannot be grown and harvested without killing at least a few groundhogs and numerous pollinators. All is death. If you’re determined to grill out (an obvious callback to patriarchal 1950s white suburban norms, but whatever), be sure to purchase minimally-processed “tofu pups,” meatless alternatives to hotdogs that taste a whopping 5% as good as the real thing (this is an improvement from recent years). Flaxseed and parsley burgers are also an option. Of course, grilling with charcoal does release greenhouse gasses into the air, contributing to colonialist global warming. Consider going to the dining hall instead for a kale-and-quinoa salad, a truly American dinner if ever there was one.
Do your part to fight the fascist government of America. The Fourth of July is supposed to be all about freedom. But actually it’s really a holiday about freedom for white, straight, cisgendered, able-bodied, upper-class, heterosexist white men. We all know this. Instead of taking part in this patriarchal terrorist celebration, consider making it a holiday about real freedom-fighting. Suggestions: Write several snarky tweets about President Trump (bonus points if you retweet some whip-smart anti-conservative takedowns by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). Attend a campus Resistance meeting (make sure it’s chaired by a nonbinary two-spirit pansexual person of nonwhite origins). Stage a protest on the Quad in which you gnash your teeth, wail to the heavens and announce your unearned privilege to the world. Probably nobody will attend it, because they’ll all be off at cookouts and pool parties having what they call “fun.” But you know better. Congratulations.
For the un-woke (and woke, if they choose to listen), Payne reminds Americans: The Fourth Of July still means something, it’s not merely an excuse to cook hot dogs and blow things up...
American freedom is facing an existential crisis. This is not—not entirely—because of the determined and persistent efforts of progressives to undermine most of the Bill of Rights; those efforts matter, but they are almost secondary to the broader problem, which is one of apathy. Americans are apt to forget just what it is we have here; we are apt to forget what the Fourth of July means, and what it signifies.
You can see this most clearly on campuses today: The vicious and growing hatred of free speech; the ceaseless trashing of America, of American history, of American government, of American values; the relentless attacks on due process in the form of campus rape tribunals and Title IX kangaroo courts; the opposition to religious plurality and tolerance. The modern American university is, in microcosm, a good encapsulation of many of the major problems affecting American society today.
These nasty values, of course, are increasingly spilling over into the broader culture. And that is a larger problem. The freedoms that we have taken for granted for decades and centuries do not just spring into existence on their own; they are vanishingly rare, not just from a historical perspective but in present-day terms as well. There is not a country in Europe that affords its citizens free speech protections the likes of which are found in America; there is no other country in the world in which the right to bear arms is a basic civic assumption; for goodness’s sake, our foundational document presumes the right of the people to overthrow their own government. These are unique and precious freedoms. They came to be only after a long series of difficult choices by men and women who had no guarantee of success. We are inestimably lucky to have them.
This Fourth of July, remember that. Remember that the campus social justice warriors are wrong; remember that their counterparts on progressive cable television are wrong as well, and that their efforts to dismantle our invaluable liberties should be resisted at every opportunity. This holiday is not merely an excuse to grill out, drink beer and watch colorful explosions (though those things are very fun); it is a chance to remember why this country exists, why it has endured, and why we should rededicate ourselves every year to the continuation of the freedom with which we have been so long blessed.