In 1776, founding father John Adams called for “pomp and parade,” “bells” and “bonfires” and “illuminations from one end of this continent to the other,” all as expressions of cheer and joy for the birth of this great nation of ours, for the great melting pot that was to be, for the spirit of America that was to soar.
In 2020, the National Football League announced plans to open Week 1 games with the playing of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” a song that has come to be known as the Black National Anthem.
Then, meet now. Unity, meet division.
The discord in this country has reached eerily high levels in recent times, and it’s a wonder if amicable relations among differing communities, differing demographics, differing cultures can ever be restored.
It’s not that this nation hasn’t had its share of internal arguments; on the contrary, even recent polls show wide political divisions among the people.
“Americans’ growing partisan divide: 8 key findings,” Pew Research wrote in October 2017.
“In the latest survey, 8 of 10 people polled say they believe the country is ‘mainly’ or ‘totally’ divided,” NBC reported, on its own NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in October 2018.
“New Poll: Voters Find Political Divisions So Bad, Believe U.S. Is Two-Thirds Of The Way To ‘Edge Of A Civil War,’” The Institute of Politics and Public Service reported, on its own Georgetown University Battleground Civility Poll in October 2019.
But even amid those divisions, when the Fourth of July rolled around, America, by and large, could unite. Americans, at least most, could take a time out from the partisanship to share a hot dog, enjoy the fireworks, pack for the beach, wave a flag, attend a parade, plant graveside flowers.
If only for one grandiose Star Spangled Banner-playing moment — if only for one “get your beer here” baseball game-sharing second — Americans could put the pause on life’s hardships and breath in the fresh air of freedom as one.
Today’s face-mask mandates make it tough to eat in public.
Today’s social distance orders make it hard to parade, or party.
Today’s stifling and ridiculously random executive orders make it impossible to plan, to prosper, to produce and create, to even live at times.
Today’s anti-America violence in the streets makes it an act of danger to wave a flag. The anarchists and monument destroyers and Black Lives Matter social justice warriors and Antifa thugs and complicit, cowardly, catering, coddling Democrats of Destruction have made it so.
Today’s left has flipped the First Amendment. Free assembly means “grab your bricks,” peaceful protest means “burn down the police station.”
Today’s left has moved the goal post so that the playing of the National Anthem at a football game is racism; the playing of the Black National Anthem, righteousness.
“This is asinine,” Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted, of the NFL’s plans to play “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing” during Week 1 of the upcoming season. “We are ONE America. E Pluribus Unum.”
Maybe at one time.
Maybe that was the plan.
America’s groaning in disunity. Out of many, one has become out of one, many. The question now is: What will unite us in the future? Where are our shared traits now?
The answer means everything to our future.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.