By Wayne Dawkins: Special to the AFRO
I love July 4: the heat, hot dogs, watermelon slices, flags and fireworks.
A ritual of mine is to listen to NPR’s dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence.
A professional highlight was covering a 1980s celebration at Philadelphia Independence Hall. That was during the pre-internet days. Not long after, the editor’s secretary summoned me to the bosses’ office. I was handed a yellow envelope with a half-dozen clippings of my story from heartland America, notably Des Moines, Iowa and Rockford, Illinois.
This Independence Day is noteworthy because it is the post-pandemic July 4. Most of our adults are vaccinated. With exceptions, we are able to go to cookouts, hug our loved ones and friends, go to sporting events, go to blockbuster movies. The fun is back.
There are these warnings:
Twice-impeached president Trump spied on his own counsel, personal lawyer Don McGahn. No. 44 also used the Department of Justice as his law firm and spied on CNN, the Washington Post and New York Times and members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell.
Their family members’ phone records were secretly scrutinized. The DOJ spying was done by bypassing judges and using secret grand juries. All of this was authoritarian behavior fouler than what President Nixon in the 1970s. Remember, when the latter was caught, he had the decency to resign.
Too many Republicans in our legislative branch insist that our democracy was not attacked Jan. 6, less than six months ago. Those marauders at the Capitol were “tourists” according to the deniers. Why do we keep bringing up the people who were killed, including a police officer, and a female true believer who a cop shot dead because she tried to physically harm legislators?
On June14, federal investigators warned that QAnon supporters are planning a violent follow up because they now feel betrayed: Donald Trump did not return to the White House as promised.
Michael Flynn, the disgraced Trump national security adviser, suggested there should be a Myanmar [Burma]-style coup in the United States when asked at a forum. Flynn, a retired general collecting a pension, said he was misquoted however the video does not lie. What part of “defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” did Flynn conveniently forget?
Why worry about Vladimir Putin of Russia undermining our democracy when power-hungry Republicans are doing the KGB strongman’s work for him?
Former Confederate states including Georgia, Florida and Texas passed laws to restrict voting. These were nakedly racist acts because the “wrong” people voted legally and removed Trump. The Republicans in charge discarded logic. More GOP members won last November; it was the erratic, incompetent POTUS who was rejected.
Now with “Sleepy” Joe Biden as president, has he returned calm to America? Conditionally, he has. Biden assured G7 Economic allies America wants to collaborate with, not undermine them. Biden called Putin’s bluff: I’m not going to loud talk you, but you have a choice: join the community of nations or suffer consequences as an evil doer.
No more coddling like Trump’s 2018 summit disaster with Vlad.
Yet allies are not totally convinced America has its act together. They note the sizable minority of people who have still resisted taking covid-19 vaccines, behavior so irrational our nation can give a half-billion doses to desperate people abroad. And allies watch turmoil such as the George Floyd effect, surges in mass shootings and inability of our elected leaders to fix roads and bridges. Foreign adversaries China, Russia and shaky allies Brazil, India and Turkey are peddling authoritarianism as a better path than democracy as we fiddle.
I’m praying that we stay true to Winston Churchill’s observation, that Americans flirt with extreme ideas until brinksmanship snaps us back into doing the right thing.
Also, that the America I love, even when it fails to love me back, will rebound. Happy 4th.
The writer is a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.