I swear to the Lord
I still can’t see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.
What we now know as Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day” in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. It was a tradition initiated by former slaves to celebrate emancipation and commemorate those who died for that cause.
These days, Memorial Day is arranged as a day “without politics”—a general patriotic celebration of all soldiers and veterans, regardless of the nature of the wars in which they participated. This is the opposite of how the day emerged, with explicitly partisan motivations, to celebrate those who fought for justice and liberation.
The concept that the population must “remember the sacrifice” of U.S. service members, without a critical reflection on the wars themselves, did not emerge by accident. It came about in the Jim Crow period as the Northern and Southern ruling classes sought to reunite the country around apolitical mourning, which required erasing the “divisive” issues of slavery and Black citizenship. These issues had been at the heart of the struggles of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
To truly honor Memorial Day means putting the politics back in. It means reviving the visions of emancipation and liberation that animated the first Decoration Days. It means celebrating those who have fought for justice, while exposing the cruel manipulation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members who have been sent to fight and die in wars for conquest and empire.
- Gays: We just think our love is as valid as anyone else's
- Liberals: Cool guys. Let's get you married.
- Transgendered: I am not physically the person I feel I should be.
- Liberals: Awesome. You should do whatever you like with your own body to find happiness.
- Women: We're being raped, paid less, and I guess our nipples are more insulting then male nipples?
- Liberals: Well, none of that is cool. We're here to support you!
- Black People: We're being racially profiled, shot for minor crimes, and shoved into prisons simply based on our skin color.
- Liberals: None of that is cool. You have our support.
- Immigrants: Yes, we came here illegally, but we're escaping our countries full of violence, human trafficking, and drug lords. Can we just take your undesired jobs and raise our kids in peace to be hard-working Americans?
- Liberals: Oh man. That sucks. Hell yeah you can. Welcome to America
- Conservatives: NO!
- Conservatives: No no no NO NO NO!!!
- Liberals: Whoa there, these are normal human beings facing obstacles because of how they were born--
- Conservatives: DON'T CALL ME RACIST
- Conservatives: YOU'RE INTOLERANT
- Conservatives: DON'T TRY AND PERSECUTE ME
- Liberals: ....
The merit of our Constitution was, not that it promotes democracy, but checks it. - Horatio Seymour
I believe profoundly in the possibilities of democracy, but democracy needs to be emancipated from capitalism. As long as we inhabit a capitalist democracy, a future of racial equality, gender equality, economic equality will elude us.