"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag

Fourth of July in America, 2021

From Beyond the Revolution: A History of American Thought from Paine to Pragmatism by William H. Goetzmann:

“In America… revolution has taken place by means of a peculiar process, that of absorption through selection — of people, of ideas, of images, of experiences, of things. Europe was at first an obvious source of inspiration because of its antique heritage, which made American history seem to be part of European, or ‘world,’ history. Very quickly, thanks to the sea traders of the Atlantic coastline, America’s inspiration became global, and the world itself acted as a gigantic museum from which Americans derived their education in self-identity. This process… requiring constant redefinition of America’s physical orientation in terms of changing concepts of global geography and a multitudinous observation of world lifestyles and values, has never ceased….

“Lacking a history and a character, Americans almost inadvertently created them early in the nineteenth century out of world history, world lifestyles, and world ideas…. America’s unity and national character arose, from a generous, indeed limitless, cosmopolitanism that embraced men and ideas from all nations.”

From Remarks by President Biden in a Naturalization Ceremony with Essential Workers and Military Service Members on July 3, 2021:

“You have each come to America from different circumstances and different reasons and 16 different nationalities.

“But like previous generations of immigrants, there is one trait you all share in common: courage. It takes courage to get up and leave everything you know… for a new start in the United States of America.

“So I want to thank you all for choosing us, and I mean that sincerely. Thank you for choosing the United States of America, believing that America is worthy of your aspirations, worthy of your dreams.

“Making this journey, you have done more than move to a new place. I’ve often said that America is the only nation in the world founded on an idea. Every other nation in the world is founded on the basis of… geography or ethnicity or religion. You can define… almost everyone else based on those characteristics, but you can’t define America…. We’re an incredibly diverse democracy.

“But there is one thing that does define us a country: We were founded on an idea that, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women] are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… Life, Liberty, [and] the pursuit of Happiness.’ It sounds corny to Americans, as we learn this in grade school and high school.  We’ve never fully lived up to it, but we’ve never, ever, ever walked away from it….

“Every generation opens that aperture a little bit wider.”


I had never seen a Naturalization Ceremony — from which I excerpted part of President Biden’s speech above — before, but caught yesterday’s just as it was starting. It was quite moving to watch, especially given Biden’s characteristic style, describing everyone there — every new American citizen — as an equal to every other citizen, including the President of the United States. If you would like to read his remarks, click the link above the quotation; or, you can watch the entire ceremony here: President Biden Holds Naturalization Ceremony at White House.

As has become my habit, I’ve assembled a few photos — in red, white, and blue… and this time, with a pair of bees gathering pollen from a freshly opened blue Rose of Sharon bloom — and presented them in the galleries below.

Thanks for taking a look! and Happy Independence Day!

Fourth of July in America, 2020

From America at War with Itself by Henry A. Giroux:

“The rise of dystopian politics … must be exposed and challenged on the local, national, and global planes. What is crucial is that the mechanisms, discourses, policies, and ideologies that inform authoritarianism must become part of any analysis that is willing to challenge the anti-democratic forces metastasizing within the United States today….

“This means, in part, focusing on the ongoing repressive systems that have been developing in American society for the last forty years. It also means drawing connections between historical forms of racial, ethnic, and economic violence that have been waged against indigenous communities, people of color, and the economically disadvantaged…. 

“It means finding a common ground on which various elements of an ethical society can be mobilized under the banner of multicultural democracy in order to challenge the interconnected forms of oppression, incarceration, mass violence, exploitation, and exclusion that now define the militant self-interest of corporatized American politics. It means taking seriously the educational nature of politics and recognizing that public spheres must be advanced in order to educate citizens who are informed, socially responsible, and willing to fight collectively for a future in which democracy is sustainable at all levels. This suggests an anti-fascist struggle that is not simply about remaking economic structures but also about refashioning identities, values, and social relations as part of a democratic project that reconfigures what it means to desire a better and more democratic future….”

I don’t have any firecrackers or sparklers, because I know better; I’d probably burn down the house, or at least set a few pine trees ablaze. I do, however, have red, white, and blue hydrangeas! And if you blink your eyes fast enough, they look like fireworks… or not! 🙂

Happy Independence Day, America! Let’s get our act together, okay?