On July 4th, 1976, I was nine. The whole year had been consumed by the Bicentennial Celebration. There was the Freedom Train touring the country, though it did not pass close to me. I first saw 1776 on television that year. I would not see it again until a few years ago when I purchased it on BluRay.
The actual day TV programming was very specific. The thing I remember most is waiting interviews with a handful of centenarians who had been alive at the centennial of the United States. Then and there I said I would live to see the Tricentennial.
It was the kind of dream only a nine year old can entertain. Today, I’m a fifty-two year old man who realizes he is in all probability two-thrids of the way through life. I doubt I will see the Tricentennial although I think the odds are well above even I’ll see the Sestercentennial.
That is, I have confidence I will live that long. I sometimes wonder if the nation I celebrated that day forty-three years ago and today will live to see that. Generally, I consider it likely the nation will continue. I am not so pessimistic to think a second civil war, actually the first civil war as the Civil War was technically a rebellion, will arise. In fact, I suspect a second rebellion is more likely, although even it is not likely.
The acts I intended to write about Tuesday only to be diverted by the idea of journalism and activism as literary genres do lead to worry. It is little taught, and even those of us alive then seem to have forgotten, but the 1970s were filled with violence. There were up to five bombings in one day as various radical left wing groups tried to change the terms of the American arrangement.
We now have reports that Antifa is arming. If Trump wins re-election, and for a variety reasons I think that is the betting position right now, will the 2020s become a repeat of the 1970s. If it does I worry. Unlike the 1970s there are now organized radical groups on the right instead of just the left. Will an Antifa bombing campaign be meant with one from actual fascists, instead of the people Antifa beats up who are not? Will the 2020s in the American Republic look like the 1920s in the Weimar Republic?
Before you dismiss me as being paranoid I want to look at something that was commonly displayed on that July 4th forty-three years ago that is in the news today. It is a flag.
In case you missed it Nike pulled a shoe featuring the Betsy Ross flag because one of the celebrity endorsers criticized it. It appears some hate groups are using the flag. Now, what Nike does and responds to is not that big of interest.
However, when that sentiment is given a prime time position on MSNBC the nation today is not the nation of 1976. In 1976 American fascists used the American flag. However, John Chancellor and David Brinkley, gave no spot on the NBC Nightly News to any claiming that usage meant the flag was a symbol of Nazism.
That position, an example of the regular invocation of the one drop rule to dismiss a symbol of American Revolution, is now mainstream among a significant fraction of the public. How significant? Enough to support a cable news network focused on them.
That’s a lot of people.
My friend Sarah Hoyt is always saying in the end such forces will lose. She has reiterated that today. I agree in the sense that when I see Antifa I see the useful idiot shock troops of a dozen successful revolutions and a hundred failed ones. I see the riots in the streets that gave France two empires, which followed the pattern of tragedy and farce while never figuring out how to deal with Prussia.
Their revolution will never come to what they think. Beating up random people because they are “fascists” will not bring about paradise.
However, Sarah also maintains we, those who want to see the Republic continue, win when Antifa and its fellow travelers lose. It is there I am less sanguine. Their spiritual ancestors fought “fascism” in Spain in the 1930s. Franco had used the Spanish fascists, the Falange, but never endorsed their polices and isolated them when they ceased being useful.
The Spanish Republic died in that war and, despite claims to the contrary, the successive government was not fascist. It was a pretty much run of the mill military dictatorship. It is also, both in what led up to the conflict and the outcome, what I consider the best model for a civil war in the United States.
Today, though, let’s not dwell on that. I write my fears here to see them laid out so I can see how unlikely they are. The American Republic survived the 1970s bombing campaigns. During that we had two presidential elections, the only president to resign from office, and still had a peaceful transfer of power from one party to the other. While there is more fuel spread around, the spark is not yet as big as the 1970s.
So, go out, grill some burgers, fly an American flag be it the Betsy Ross, the current flag, or my personal favorite the original star spangled banner (shown above), light off some explosives in celebration, and go to bed.
Getting enough sleep, after all, is a crucial first step to surviving to the Tricentennial.