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Happy Fourth of July!
July 4, 2012 - Stephen Browne
During the American bicentennial year, MAD Magazine of beloved memory printed a special July issue, "Madde."
Back then MAD magazine was actually funny, sometimes a little risque but never vulgar, and never partisan - they cheerfully satirized everybody.
Since "the usual gang of idiots" died or retired and it was possessed by The Devil, a.k.a. AOL/Time-Warner (and who knows who owns its rotting corpse now?) it's become partisan, vulgar, accepts advertising , and I believe has gone from a monthly to a quarterly. Meaning it is on life support and nobody has had the decency and respect for a once-great American institution to pull the plug.
The 1776 Issue of Madde was a charactristic loving roast of our country and the ideals of its founding.
"What's Tom Paine doing out there sitting under a tree in a thunderstorm getting soaking wet?" -"He's writing 'Common Sense.'"
(Jefferson reading.) "When in the course of human events,"
"it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them,"
-"Clear and incisive!"
"and a certain king is a doody-head!"
-"Somehow Tom that just doesn't quite..."
(Orator on the podium.) "And I wish to nominate George Washington for his humanity, his justice, his love of mankind, and... say where is George?"
-"He's back at Mt. Vernon, one of his slaves ran away." "Taxation without representation is tyranny!"
-"Wait till you see taxation WITH representation!"
This to me sums up a lot of what makes this country truly exceptional. And if you think that's my provincial Americanism talking, take it from me, I lived abroad for 14 continuous years. Whatever their opinion of us, the peoples of the world are very aware that America is a unique country.
We know we're not perfect - just ask us! The criticism of America you hear from other parts of the world is often tame compared to the criticism we subject ourselves to.
And that's one of the most important, maybe the most important thing about America. We can take it. We can hear to what's wrong with us and do something about it.
When Thomas Jefferson penned those words of the Declaration of Independence (after that doody-head remark was struck) he knew America had flaws, the most obvious being slavery. And he knew there could be a terrible price to pay in store.
But the words are true, and will endure through the ages.
Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and just hours before john Adams, his old friend, old enemy, and at the last, friend again.
Jefferson's last words were, "Is it the Fourth yet?"
Adams' last words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives."
I think he was right. Time will tell.
"All eyes are opened, or opening to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born ,with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them. ... " Jefferson's last letter, written 10 days before his death.
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