Patriotism isn't cool anymore and neither are fireworks. Spend your Independence Day talking about that. Or gun violence. Better yet, hype up President Joe Biden.
Those were mainstream media narratives this Fourth of July. As usual, I’ve got the receipts.
"It started in 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement …"
Here's the New York Times quoting a teenager who thinks celebrating America is a bad thing:
Growing up in Benton, Ark., Malaya Tapp loved celebrating the Fourth of July with her family. "We would go to parades and see firework shows and hang out with friends," she said. "It was always such a fun holiday."
But now that she is an adult—she’s 18 and entering college next year—commemorating the holiday isn’t so simple.
It started in 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement spotlighted many of the injustices across the country. "I lost a lot of my patriotic feelings," she said.
Ms. Tapp, who now lives in Atlanta, also realized that many festive components of Fourth of July aren’t that palatable for her.
There are the fireworks. "It’s hard to tell the difference between guns and fireworks, and here there is always something on the news about a shooting or something, so it makes me nervous," she said. "They are also bad for the environment. They release a lot of toxic chemicals."
This year she is skipping the holiday altogether, opting instead to travel with her church youth group to visit a Navajo nation community in Arizona, but the trip was canceled because of a Covid outbreak.
The Washington Post also found some Independence Day Scrooges:
While enjoying the festivities, Prewitt, a Black woman, said her hope in America is tainted by the current climate and the recent rejection of affirmative action in college admissions by the Supreme Court. "I don’t have hope," she said. "If the right people were to get in place I would, but right now, I don’t."
For D.C. resident Kesi Chestnut, 45, embracing patriotism felt strained. Chestnut brought her family from D.C. and Georgia to support her niece, a flutist in the Stockbridge High School Marching Band from Stockbridge, Ga. "Usually as natives we try to avoid these crowded events, but there’s no better way to bring the family together than to celebrate," Chestnut said. While spectators laughed and cheered in their patriotic attire, Chestnut, who is Black, said she felt ambivalent.
"I’m feeling the least patriotic I’ve ever felt as a woman and a minority in this country, and with everything going on with the Supreme Court," Chestnut said. "There’s always hope. We always have to hang on, even if it’s a sliver. We have to see the good in experiences like this, which are trying to bring us together."
"… are fireworks fading?"
Freedom is once again under attack as liberals and their media allies try to kill another source of joy. NPR reports:
There's been a fresh push in recent years to use safer, cheaper and greener drones for light shows.
RICK BOSS: It's definitely a great alternative if you're worried about localized pollution that's happening when the fireworks go off and leave debris that might leave some heavy metals in the area.
SCHMITZ: That's Rick Boss, the president of Sky Elements Drone Shows.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post worried that fireworks could compound the smoke from recent Canadian wildfires:
It may come as a surprise, but the federal holiday stands out as the most polluted day of the year in many locations across the nation, according to air quality data. Fireworks—the staple of Independence Day celebrations—light up the sky but also launch harmful pollutants. In some cases, the pollution levels from the pyrotechnics are similar to severe wildfire smoke.
This year, those smoky celebrations may compound air quality issues in areas already suffering from Canadian wildfire smoke, as well as blazes in Colorado and other states. Forecasts suggest that areas near the border with Canada, near Montana and Minnesota, could see a dose of wildfire smoke, and New England could see a slight smoky haze ahead of the holiday.
"Need some help with that BBQ banter?"
Both declining patriotism and environmental concerns are among the "fun conversation starters" that NPR published to help its readers make it through the Fourth of July:
4. Feelings of pride and patriotism in the U.S. are at a low
According to a 2022 Gallup poll, only 38% of Americans consider themselves extremely proud to be American. Still, according to the National Retail Federation, some 87% of Americans are planning to celebrate Independence Day this year.
5. Fireworks displays can significantly worsen air quality
As parts of the U.S. battle air quality issues caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires, there's concern about how some large fireworks displays can contribute to worsened air quality. Some regions are experimenting with drone shows to replace traditional fireworks displays.
And if leaving the house is too much, NPR had alternatives:
8. It has never been easier to celebrate from the comfort of your home
Livestreams of this year's Independence Day celebrations will be happening across the nation. This year's A Capitol Fourth will stream festivities from Washington, D.C. The event will feature live performances from, among others, Chicago, Babyface and Belinda Carlisle—and will include what organizers call the "greatest display of fireworks in the nation," captured by 20 different camera views.
"The holiday has accounted for the most mass shootings …"
Instead of fireworks, the media associate Independence Day with gun violence. Here's CNN:
On a holiday where Americans gather to celebrate their country’s history and culture, gun violence has been woven into that story, with mass shootings spiking over the Fourth of July holiday in recent years.
Notice the use of "their country" rather than "our country" from a U.S.-based journalist writing for an American publication.
MSNBC's Joy Reid can't even leave the house as a result:
MSNBC’s @JoyAnnReid: ' I did not go out on July 4th & would not. The idea of going to a mass gathering, a parade, or a big fireworks thing outside seems insane to me, to be blunt, in America, because America is awash with guns & people … seem to want to shoot people." pic.twitter.com/MGWo8ebkTj
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) July 6, 2023
"There's good news and bad news about inflation."
About two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Biden's handling of the economy. NPR used Independence Day as an opportunity to try to win hearts and minds with a piece titled: "Here are the 5 Things To Know About the State of the Economy This Independence Day."
Although economists had warned the Fed's higher interest rates could dampen the job market, it hasn't turned out that way so far.
In fact, employers have added more than 4 million jobs in the last year, or an average of more than 338,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate has been below 4% for 16 months in a row — the longest such stretch since the 1960s.
And the unemployment rate for African Americans hit an all-time low of 4.7% in April, before climbing slightly the following month.
Even inflation gets some good news, at least from the media:
This time last summer, the U.S. was facing the highest inflation in four decades. Gasoline prices had hit an all-time high, topping $5 per gallon in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the cost of a Fourth of July cookout was soaring.
Since then, inflation has moderated significantly, dropping to 4% in May from 9.1% last June. Gasoline prices have fallen to around $3.53 per gallon according to AAA. And grocery bills have dipped slightly in the last three months.
NPR is carrying on an important White House tradition:
Planning a cookout this year? Ketchup on the news. According to the Farm Bureau, the cost of a 4th of July BBQ is down from last year. It’s a fact you must-hear(d). Hot dog, the Biden economic plan is working. And that’s something we can all relish. pic.twitter.com/7h9qLauIbC
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 1, 2021
That’s enough media for now. See you next week.