Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Bastille Day!

Today's French phrase on my Page-A-Day calendar is:

La liberté à tout prix.

Liberty at all costs.

It's in honor of France's Bastille Day, their independence day. It's not a day I celebrate, although I remember, after having had 5 years of French in school plus various conversational French classes, that it falls on July 14th. But it got me thinking about France's revolution compared to ours.

Liberté. Liberty from what? The French liberated themselves from monarchy, a monarchy that oppressed them and left most of them starving in the streets. In return, they gained the Reign of Terror. Some liberty!

Égalité. Equality of what? The French are still basically ruled by elites. It may not be the monarchy anymore, true, but it's still a class system of the lessers being subject to their betters. I described the French school system, which fosters this class structure in this post from 2005. Yes, the French people all get to vote, but the elites still rule.

Fraternité. Fraternity with whom? "Disaffected" (Muslim) youths? The Jews who are being beaten? Fraternity seems to be only with other pasty-white French people. Outsiders need not apply.

The American Left loves to look to Europe, to France, for inspiration when they try to transform our country into something "better." But America, for all its faults, is the better place.

We gained liberty from the ruling monarchy without the bloodbath that followed France's revolution. Granted, geography had a lot to do with keeping King George III's head on his shoulders. But we had a peaceful transition to a new power structure that ensured liberty in the fledgling nation.

Within the context of the times, America promised equality in a way that hadn't been seen before. Property rights, the vote for free men, and equal opportunity were available to all.

Fraternity is what America does best. All who would subscribe to America's ideals and become citizens are welcome. It doesn't matter where you're from. It doesn't matter what color you are or what language you spoke in the Old Country. If you want to be an American, you can. Nobody is outcast. Nobody has to take the back seat. And anyone who wants to apply him or herself can succeed.

We're even seeing, this election cycle, a resurgence of would-be citizen-legislators.

America is a great country. Let us celebrate her greatness this Bastille Day.

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