In Portland, Oregon, where I live, the 4th of July holiday offers an excuse for a wonderful annual blues festival in Waterfront Park downtown. Unfortunately, in my neighborhood, it also provides cover for people to blow off fireworks that terrify young children and animals, and that turn the air thick with smoke and errant projectiles. Last year, the fire department here reported 35 fires sparked by toy missiles, defective firecrackers, and other items of explosive revelry. The Washington State Department of Ecology warns that “Breathing fine particles in fireworks smoke can cause or contribute to serious short- or long-term health problems. They include: Risk of heart attack and stroke. Lung inflammation. Reduced lung function. Asthma-like symptoms. Asthma attacks.”
Apart from the noise pollution, air pollution, and flying debris pollution, there is something profoundly inappropriate about blowing off fireworks at a time when the United States is waging war with real fireworks around the world. To cite just one example, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London has estimated that since November 2001, U.S. drone attacks have killed at least 2,600 people in five countries, including as many as 247 children. And, of course, the Iraq war, which began with the deadly U.S. fireworks of “shock and awe” bombardment in 2003, has morphed into seemingly endless internecine fighting, and according to the United Nations, the creation of more than a million refugees just this year. The pretend war of celebratory fireworks thus becomes part of a propaganda campaign that inures us—especially the children among us—to current and future wars half a world away.
The author of this tripe – who taught social studies in Oregon for 30 years, influencing how many generations of impressionable children – devotes the rest of his article attacking Washington, Jefferson, America in general and of course, our genocidal extermination of the savages who once inhabited these lands. I’ll repeat: Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” is taught in our schools,by teachers who have been indoctrinated in Zinn’s avowedly communist ideology. Your tax dollars at work,your children in danger.