- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 3, 2003

How independent is America on this, its 227th Independence Day? It is a complex question in a world addled by globalization and terrorists.

Our patriotism and can-do spirit are very much intact.

A Gallup poll released yesterday found that 90 percent of us say we are “very” or “extremely” proud to be Americans while a Fox News poll revealed 96 percent will not change July Fourth plans because of any terrorist threats.

Indeed, the nation is vibrant with Yankee variety today: family reunions, pancake breakfasts, ice-cream socials and gospel sings. There will be a log-sawing competition in Eau Claire, Wis.; a “front-porch gathering” in Moultonborough, N.H.; and a public dance on the flight deck of the USS Hornet in San Francisco Bay.

Russell Binkley, 96, and Dorothy, his wife of 63 years, are the grand marshals of the town parade out in Etna Green, Ind. — which will also host a baby derby, an Amish bake sale, the crowning of “Miss Etna Green” and a threshing-machine demonstration.

“Americans are more independent than the Founding Fathers ever dreamed,” CNN’s Judy Woodruff told The Washington Times yesterday.

“We are able to exercise freedom of speech and freedom of religion well beyond anything our foremothers and fathers envisioned, and I believe the press, for the most part, is more free than it’s ever been. But I’d also argue that Americans take their freedoms more for granted than ever before and don’t appreciate them as much as they should,” she said.

Enduring values and their steadfast influence remain on the minds of the nation’s leaders.

“The American creed remains powerful today because it represents the universal hope of all mankind,” President Bush said in his July Fourth message to the nation.

“Once again it is a battle for humanity, for the right of all people — not just Americans — to live in a world free of terror and fear,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a holiday message to troops stationed around the world.

“You are the men and women who are fighting this new war. Your gallantry and courage in the face of evil has stirred the souls of all Americans,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.

“We are as independent as we want to be. The founders gave us the tools to alter our environment,” said former FBI Agent Gary Aldrich, author of the new book “Thunder on the Left.”

He continued, “But from my personal view, as a former federal employee, I think we’re far more dependent on big government than we ought to be.”

Some find that America may be less independent in other realms.

“The geographic isolation of an earlier era offers a decreasing effective buffer. With time, the United States ever more resembles Slovakia or Anatolia or Singapore — finding itself in the middle of trade routes, immigration flows, language movements, disease patterns and enemy sights,” Daniel Pipes of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum said yesterday.

“The evolving safeguards against SARS and the doctrine of military prevention offer two signs of the many strains these changes are imposing on a once happily isolated and more independent land. Coming to terms with them is and will remain a source of major stress for Americans,” Mr. Pipes said.

Although global polls reveal mixed feelings about U.S. foreign policy or culture, most populations still revere American ideals. A British Broadcasting Corp. poll of 11,000 people in a dozen countries found that while 65 percent considered Americans “arrogant,” 73 percent felt they were “free.”

A Carnegie poll of 1,000 immigrants taken seven months ago found that 96 percent were “happy” in America and 80 percent said the United States “stood for something special in the world.”

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