Monday, July 5, 2010

The Fourth of July, Patriotism, Borders and Books

Another holiday that bugs me? Not really...Though I'm not much of a flag-waver. I always think of a comic riff done by Eddie Izzard (the funniest and smartest comedian on the planet, find him on DVD) on colonization, where the British Empire takes over a country, claiming it simply because the current occupants had no flag. "Where's your flag? We have a flag."
Reading about the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase this morning over coffee...We started taking out some maps of the Southwest U.S. and comparing Mexico's current and former borders with the U.S. It certainly gives support to the current claim of many Mexicans living in what is now the U.S.: "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us!" I'm fascinated by the history of the dynamic few years of shifting borders, as far back as the Louisiana Purchase (1803), but especially from the 1846 war between the U.S. and Mexico through the Gadsden Purchase (1854).
Boring, you may say, but think what an impact these few years had upon this entire continent. Not to mention the long-term effect on world affairs. And perusing those old borders certainly throws an interesting light on the current "fight" (if one can call such desultory efforts a battle) for and against immigration reform.
So, yes, the 4th of July: our founding fathers voted to become independent of Britain back in 1776 (not really on the 4th, but that's neither here nor there, for those who care here's the wiki page) but since that "freedom" didn't extend to slaves or women, there wasn't much freedom to go around. Now, of course, we go around the globe, importing our special brand of "freedom and democracy" to all and sundry--whether they like it or not. All while waving the "Grand old Flag" of these United States. And on July 4th, we all say hooray...Mostly.
For those who are intrigued by the current efforts of San Diego's Arts and literature community to Reinstate Robert Pincus at the San Diego Union, visit the Campaign to Reintstate Bob Pincus blog, with links to the Facebook page, articles, The Warwick's bookstore event, and more.