Well, today is the fourth day of the month of July, meaning that it’s Independence Day here in the United States. (Yes, that’s the name of the holiday. The fourth of July is just the date. I wonder how many Americans actually know what this day commemorates – and how often have you heard Christmas referred to as the “25th of December”?)
So, in keeping with the spirit of the day, here’s a photo I took seven years ago. It was July 4, 2000, and two examples of the Stars and Stripes were hanging proudly from the balconies of this building that I passed. If you think the photo may have been made in the French Quarter of New Orleans by the look of the building, you’d be wrong – but you’d be close. I made this photo in the beautiful town of Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.
I think the ground floor held a book store – perhaps an English language book store as I recall – but I remember thinking how great I felt to be away from home on Independence Day and still able to see somebody putting out Old Glory for all to see. I guess it’s appropriate to post a photo of the American flag in France, as the French did help us to win the war against the British (the army museum in Paris has a section devoted to Lafayette and the Revolutionary War) and they did give us the Statue of Liberty.
Of course, a lot of people here in the U.S. view France very negatively due to its political positions in recent years. Well, I don’t necessarily agree with those positions, either. Some Americans say that we should boycott visiting France, but the fact is that if I chose to boycott every country whose government I disagree with, I would be unable to visit (or even live in) these very United States!
This blog is meant to be about my photography. I’ve tried to keep my political views out of it, but as Independence Day is very much a political holiday (the Declaration of Independence being about as political as a document can be), I’ll go ahead this time.
As I said, I didn’t agree with the views of the French government regarding Iraq, but they did what they did out of their own political interests just as the Bush administration did what it did out of its own interests. Unfortunately, those interests were not the best interests of the American people but rather those of the Bush administration and its cronies – and it has only continued.
The current U.S. regime has got to be one of the most corrupt, self-serving and morally bankrupt (not to mention inept and incompetent!) in American political history. Let’s see – Paris Hilton went to jail for driving with a suspended license (or some such thing), but Scooter Libby lies to a federal investigation to cover up the dirty deeds of the Bush administration and he goes free. Yes, drunk driving is a serious offense that can cause death and injury and it should be punished accordingly – but Libby lied to cover up the deceptive practices of this administration that have lead to the death of thousands. Letting him go is outrageous. I say, “Let him rot.”
And then there’s Dick Cheney, who’s trying to avoid accountability to the American people by claiming that the vice president is not part of the executive branch of government. Unbelievable! (Well, it should be unbelievable, but with this administration such nonsense is unfortunately all too believable.)
I’d like to think that the founding fathers of this country did what they did in the hope of bringing justice to this land of ours, but of course the Bush administration is not interested in justice or doing what’s right for all Americans. As long as they please their backers in the political and religious right, everything’s just fine as far as they’re concerned.
The photo above shows a couple of American flags. That flag is a powerful symbol – but it is still just a symbol. Some people think that being patriotic means waving that flag and giving unconditional support to the president. To me, patriotism means more than waving a flag and blindly following whatever moron happens to be living in the White House. Patriotism is about supporting those things that make the United States of America a special place to live – things like justice, government accountability, freedom of expression and freedom to dissent without persecution. Unfortunately, these are things that the Bush administration has shown that it’s not interested in supporting, so the next presidential election can’t come soon enough for me.
In the meantime, enjoys your barbecues or whatever holiday meals you may be having today.
And remember to pass the Freedom fries.