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Independence Day Minus the Independence

The United States of America has been my home for fourteen years now, but I’m writing this column on my first 4th of July since taking the oath and becoming a US citizen. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that — as an Englishman, I’ve always joked that the holiday is, “You’re Welcome Day.” Enjoy your country, chaps. You break it, you buy it.

It’s undeniably slightly awkward when you’re a British-born American citizen — I consider myself English-American — and the entire purpose of this day is to celebrate American independence from the British crown. I’m not a royalist, never have been, so have at it. I do love England for my own reasons but I don’t expect other people to feel the exact same way as I do.

So that’s where we’re at. I didn’t know how I’d feel about this July 4, because I felt very warm on the day I became a citizen of this country. But any celebratory feelings were expelled on the day that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Chapter 99 of this column saw us discuss the potential ramifications of overturning Roe in the wake of the leaked draft note from Führer Alito. Still, nothing could prepare us for the shock, anger, and devastation we felt on the morning that the inevitable actually happened. Inevitable, because the radical conservative-majority Supreme Court has been preparing for this since they became a radical conservative-majority Supreme Court.

Remember the Brett Kavanaugh hearings? Remember the nasty shit we were supposed to just brush off? Now consider that this guy just voted away women’s rights. How does he look his family in the eye?

So yes, Independence Day feels empty when 50.5% of the US population just had their independence stripped away. The name of the holiday feels like a bad joke. 

Musicians were quick to react, with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong announcing from the stage in London that he was renouncing his citizenship. Meanwhile, Pearl Jam posted to social media:

“No one, not the government, not politicians, not the Supreme Court should prevent access to abortion, birth control, and contraceptives. People should have the freedom to choose. Today’s decision impacts everyone and it will particularly affect poor women who can’t afford to travel to access health care. We will stay active, we will not back down and we will never give up. Elections have consequences, please join us. Text CHOICE to 855-812-VOTE.”

Singer/songwriter Amanda Shires took to Instagram to say, “I feel like the God that I believe in gave me the brain and the thinking and the knowledge to know what I should be able to do with my body.”

At the Glastonbury Festival in the UK, Megan Thee Stallion had a crowd of thousands screaming “My body, my motherfuckin’ choice” with her:

L.A. musician Solvej Schou posted, “I and other Jewish people OPPOSE the devastating overturning of Roe v. Wade, and in fact, it violates our First Amendment right to freedom of religion. In Judaism, an ethnoreligion (ethnicity + religion), abortion is not only permitted, it’s required when a pregnant person’s life is at stake.”

Laurie Fairbanks of punk band Cunt Punch posted that,“I’m pro abortion. I don’t need to know why a woman needs an abortion and I don’t need to hear a litany of tragedy porn to justify women’s choices.” The same band unveiled a new song called “Yeatus the Fetus,” which can be viewed below.

Pussy Riot, the Russian band that knows a thing or two about fighting tyranny, had this to say:

“The Supreme Court of the US overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion nationwide. We served 2 years in Russia for fighting for women’s rights only to see them being totally ruined in another country that’s dear to many of us here in Pussy Riot. We protested it and will continue doing it, on the streets, in state capitols and concert venues.”

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine had a personal family tragedy to cite.

“My great grandmother, Mary Maude Fitzgerald, died from an illegal, unsafe abortion. Her widower, Thomas Fitzgerald, an itinerant worker, couldn’t raise their 3 kids alone & sent them off to families that took them as servants. He died alone of TB in a work camp. #WeWillNotGoBack

And Deerhoof released a statement perfectly encapsulating what so many of us are feeling right now.

“Whether it’s abortion, gun control, corporate power, arresting you without reading you your rights, using your tax dollars to benefit religious institutions, the Supreme Court is deliberately laying waste to the hopes, needs, and safety of the vast majority of the US population.”

That’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it? The Supreme Court is destroying any progress made in this country over the past half-century or more because it doesn’t fit with their dinosaur notion of what a Christian nation should look like. The wall between church and state is essential, yet they’re smashing it down with reckless abandon. They are disgusting.

The 4th of July feels empty this year, and Frederick Douglass’ majestic “What to the Slave is the 4th of July” feels especially poignant. “It was illegal for us to read and then we read the laws. The laws were illegal.”

If there’s any cause for hope, it came in the form of Ketanji Brown Jackson becoming the first Black woman sworn onto the highest court in the land, of course following Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the Supreme Court. The majority of their colleagues are wretched, vile souls so Jackson has an uphill battle. But we sure do need her.

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