What an Independence Day holiday. I attended three free concerts on three different days that – if I had to pay to listen to these performers – would have cost thousands of dollars.
On Saturday, July 2, my wife, my youngest daughter and I were among the approximately one million people on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway listening to Black Eyed Peas, Bon Jovi, Destiny’s Child, Will Smith, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and others perform for the Live 8 concert. On Monday July 4, I returned to that same location – along with about a half a million people – to listen to a concert by Elton John, Bryan Adams, and the Philly Pops culminating with a fantastic fireworks display.
However, the most memorable concert of the three was the one given by the world famous Peter Nero and the Philly Pops orchestra outside of the most magnificent building in the world – Independence Hall – just across the street from one of the most important symbols of America – the Liberty Bell.
Here only two thousand people gathered for an event that would have made the members of the ACLU, the People for the American Way, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State apoplectic. The evening began with some of the audience applauding as crew members from the USS Cole walked by them. The Cole was docked at Penn’s Landing for the holiday and some of the crew would later participate in a flag -raising ceremony after the concert.
Then, later in the evening, as the Philly Pops played, two thousand people waved flags in time to the strains of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Still later two thousand people waved flags and gave a standing ovation to the tune of "Stars and Stripes Forever." For the finale, two thousand people must have made Barry Lynn’s ears burn as they sang "God Bless America" and the MC said, " God Bless America."
Two thousand people of different races, creeds, from different parts of the United States, and even from different parts of the world were there. The crowd included a couple who recently immigrated from India, a Muslim couple, and even Congressman Barney Frank.
Two thousand people listened to a song celebrating a Christian holiday written by an immigrant Russian Jew – Irving Berlin. Two thousand people listened to popular songs written by the descendants of slaves – Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
Two thousand people listened – and sang along – to what some would call “ jingoistic” songs. Two thousand people listened to what some would call “chauvinistic ” speeches. Two thousand people waved flags and sang along to the song “ God Bless America,” while on government property – which surely some would say violated the idea of separation of church and state.
Liberals everywhere would have been horrified had they been aware of this. Especially appalled would be those who worship at the altar of planwirtschaft – the unwitting heirs to the ideas of the nineteenth century that resulted in the wars and genocides of the twentieth century because of totalitarianism.
For these people, Americanism is problematic–particularly Americanism and religious faith. They believe religion has caused more wars and casualties then their social planning. They believe America has wreaked more havoc than Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, Red China, Communist Vietnam, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castro’s Cuba, and now Islamism.
While it is encouraging that there are plenty of Americans who believe the opposite of what the contemporary American liberals believe – it is also worth noting that the 2,000 people in the audience were primarily older people. Granted the Philly Pops orchestra does not appeal to many of the Baby Boomer, Slacker, and X generations, yet one does need to ask the question if entertainers who would appeal to these generations and provided the same message would be greeted by audiences just as enthusiastic.
I think they would. I think the younger and middle-aged generations of Americans are very patriotic – despite being indoctrinated with anti-Americanism by media and academia. These generations need to have their patriotic beliefs validated in the popular culture. They need the popular culture to mirror their perspectives.
How, when, where, and why the popular culture will again be happy to be American is anybody’s guess. Where the next Irving Berlin who writes "God Bless America" will come from no one can say (although Lee Greenwood’s "Proud to Be an American" was pretty close).
What can be said is that, if and when, these expressions of patriotism are brought to the marketplace of the popular culture – – and not just the marketplace of ideas – – there will be an audience for them. This is at least a comforting thought.