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"Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could have said."
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July 04 2007

Adam Baldwin talks about Independence Day. Which is quite appropriate given today's date.

Oh gosh, I had totally forgotten about Adam in this movie. Yeah, he played a kick a** role for sure. Thanks Simon!
Yeah, I had forgotten he was in it as well.

And since I couldn't find my old VHS copy of E.T. (which I usually watch on July 4), I was thinking of watching this...
Oh...I totally thought he was talking about the holiday. I forgot he was in ID4.Why is it even called ID4? Independence Day is only ID and there haven't been four of them!
I absolutely loved Adam in that film when he just walks up to that alien and keeps shooting him in the head. So badass!
Silly, silly film. Good fun though (and AB was cool in it).

And you US type peeps have a happy independence day. We didn't want the continent anyway, so there ;-).
My family watches this movie every year on July 4th. I forgot that Adam was in it, though! All the more reason to watch it tonight after Transformers... :P
I think Independence Day is the last great blockbuster. Everything since didn't capture my attention the way that movie did.
Saje, we love you too. Silly American.
Yes, it was/is a silly film. The characters were barely even two-dimensional, and there was some very bad acting. But it was kinda fun to watch to see how many (better) sci-fi films and TV shows it made reference to. Adam was good in it, though.
That movie weirded me out. Will Smith's awesomeness cannot be denied, so I did enjoy seeing him in it though. I hadn't realized Adam Baldwin was in it.
ID4 followed by National Treasure has become the tradition in our house...
Yup. Friends and I watch ID4 every July 4th at some point in the day. It's become a tradition. Transformers may replace it though. I've heard it's real good. I've been avoiding the crowds but really want to see it bad!

National Treasure - LOVE that movie.
...but the 4th of July is for fireworks, not movies. Okay, I was thinking of pulling out my video of 1776. I know, I'm a party animal.

I've only seen ID4 on TV and enjoyed it. I would love to have seen the Jewish Death of a Salesman rif. Damn!

My son wants to see Transformers soooo badly. However, between the expected crowds and the description of it I read, I really did not want to spend my birthday taking him to see it...even if it did rain on the 4th. I'm taking tomorrow off from work, so maybe we'll go then.

And thanks, Saje for such immature sincere well wishes. It was a lovely 4th. (Waves stars and stripes at Saje.)
I know logically that ID4 is bad. Doesn't stop me getting goosebumps during President Pullman's speech before the big fight. (;
Plus amazing small role folks...Adam (of course), Harry Connick Jr., Mary McDonnell, Brent Spiner...I'll stop now.
... (Waves stars and stripes at Saje.)

Aaargh, it burns, it burns ! ;-)

(and happy birthday newcj, assuming i'm reading you right, or happy belated birthday if it was on the 4th. Or, just to cover the bases, happy early birthday ;)

Pullman's speech isn't bad, at the very least it's an excuse for everyone to have a couple of beers on the 4th July (he does say it's all our independence days ;). The bit with the RAF officer saying "Well, it's about bloody time" is sort of funny. Stuff like that used to mildly annoy me (as if we'd all be totally paralysed until the US told us what to do), now it just provokes a slightly sad smile - and I guess in some ways it's an attempt at the sort of inclusiveness you see in e.g. "The Longest Day", just distilled through 30-odd years of fainter memories.
"The bit with the RAF officer saying "Well, it's about bloody time" is sort of funny. Stuff like that used to mildly annoy me (as if we'd all be totally paralysed until the US told us what to do)"

I don't remember the line, but in that it was before 9/11 and much closer to the Bosnia situation etc are you sure it wasn't meant to be a comment on how the US often has dragged it's feet when deciding to get into wars if we have not been directly attacked(because that always turns out badly)? Sometimes it is hard to remember what things were like before the present insanity.

"(and happy birthday newcj, assuming i'm reading you right, or happy belated birthday if it was on the 4th. Or, just to cover the bases, happy early birthday ;)"

Thanks. Yes, it was the 4th, but I'm willing to celebrate awhile more. ;-)
I don't remember the line, but in that it was before 9/11 and much closer to the Bosnia situation etc are you sure it wasn't meant to be a comment on how the US often has dragged it's feet when deciding to get into wars if we have not been directly attacked(because that always turns out badly)? Sometimes it is hard to remember what things were like before the present insanity.

Hmm, possibly. To me (and the people I saw it with) it seemed like yet another representation of America saving the world (the line comes after the US has come up with its plan to kill the aliens with Apple Macs - possibly by showing them the price ;) - and the impression given IIRC is that the rest of the world has basically been sitting on its arse waiting). It's such a common theme in Hollywood movies (or rather, was - US film-makers seem to be more ambivalent about it post 9/11, Iraq etc.) that the rest of us just tend to roll our eyes and ignore it now ;).

My "The Longest Day" comment relates to something i've noticed about war films, in that, the ones made by the guys who were actually there (or at least lived through it, even as a non-combatant) tend to treat all the combatants more humanely and acknowledge the various contributions. Later, we get movies like "Saving Private Ryan" where the allies barely appear and the Germans are rotters to a man (IIRC) - I remember feeling disappointed watching Steven Spielberg being interviewed on the film's release as he repeatedly used "Nazis" to refer to the German soldiers (most of whom, of course, weren't Nazis - with all that connotes - they were conscript soldiers same as the allies, they just happened to be on the wrong side).

(and I don't think the US particularly dragged their feet over Bosnia, or certainly no more than the rest of us. It was a complicated situation and they were following the UN's course - remember those days ? ;). ID4 was obviously made before the Kosovo situation, where there was maybe a more legitimate cause for complaint)
The bad/great movie we watch every 4th is Armageddon. Great fun, tons of flag-waving, big American explosions everywhere, Bruce Willis... it's just perfect!

And does someone know the answer to HelloSpooky's question? Why is it called ID4?
I am still at my old job doing the part of it I hate most, so I am not always saying things as well as I should. (This place turns me into a vegetable. I can feel my brain disintigrate as I sit here.)

I actually don't think we did drag our feet in Bosnia, though the way I phrased it it sounded like I thouhgt that ;-)
...and there was that critism at the time from some quarters. I remember my relief right at the beginning when it was reported that the US had been told it was a European problem and that we should stay the hell out and let the Europeans handle it. Then the rest happened. My point was more that we generally were staying out of things more at that time than say, we are now. Even so, it would have been more of a WW2 reference than anything else.

I wish I could remember the line and the context from ID4. (Damn!) I think the perception that lines like that indicate we think the whole rest of the world is sitting around waiting is double-edged. I can definitely see how it would be percieved that way and resented. Big Hollywood movies are usually whatever the suits think will sell in the biggest economy...our own. Often that is whatever the mood of the USA was a few years before, especially if it includes social conservatism, nationalism and ethnocentricity. It can be annoying for large parts of the population in this country as well as abroad.

On the other hand, I think WW1 and WW2 did get the country used to the idea that we were seen as the big guy in the corner who our friends would expect to step in when a bully started beating the crap out of them, while at the same time having no respect for and ultimatly resenting. So if something big is going down, I think we expect everybody else to be doing stuff, but in the end we feel that there are expectations on us and a certain responsibility as the country that can throw an amount of resourses at a problem that no one else on the planet currently can.

As far as Spielberg. I respect the guy, but he has always been first and foremost a genius at emotional manipulation. Add to that that he is getting older and, like many of us, was raised by people who lived during that time who are dying one by one. The result is sometimes more guided by sentiment than the desire to portray all sides fairly.
Maybe to make sure we can distinguish it from all those other non-US Independence Days out there? In my house it's always been "Alien Monkers" (my then 2-year old had some speech issues)
ID4 has english people drinking tea, and Africa people waving sticks at Space Ships. Because, you know, Africans have sticks, are naked and are in a tribe. Enough said, I think.
Well, I strongly recommend "The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. There are scenes there that will shake your soul to the horrors of war.

And does someone know the answer to HelloSpooky's question? Why is it called ID4?

Willowy, you got me, don't have a clue where that "4" came from. Also, loved "Armageddon" as well. Right up to the point until Steve Buscemi started shooting up the world with his 20mm cannon.
Yeah, true gossi, it's painted with what you'd call a broad brush. In fairness though, you lot do drink tea, i've seen it.

On the other hand, I think WW1 and WW2 did get the country used to the idea that we were seen as the big guy in the corner who our friends would expect to step in when a bully started beating the crap out of them, while at the same time having no respect for and ultimatly resenting.

I wonder if seeing it as helping out a 'bullied neighbour' is a bit wrongheaded though (and partly what sometimes bothers Brits, as if you came and sorted out some 'mess' we'd got involved in, put yourselves out to help in another European problem, rather than standing up for the very principles you guys are so - justly - proud of having written into the fabric of your country, with a healthy dose of self-preservation thrown in).

I don't particularly blame the US for not seeing the danger, most didn't over here until it was very nearly too late (just one drunk old war-monger that everyone thought was past it ;) but to basically swing in late in the game and then claim single-handed victory sometimes seems a bit much (and unfortunately, much as I agree many, maybe most, Americans don't see things that way, the world sees the stories you tell about it, not the hearts and minds of those millions).

(and is it not 'ID4' principally for marketing reasons, same as X-Men 2 was supposedly 'X2' ? It's called "Independence Day", it was released on the 4th, some marketroid clearly 'did the math' et voila, a poster is born ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2007-07-05 21:09 ]
Maybe it's just because I'm an ignorant American who was, admittedly, 13 when I saw the movie the first time, but I always thought the RAF guy's line was more of a "We've been working our a$$es off out here, it's about time those morons woke up and got involved". Which I suppose still buys into the "big guy in the corner" theory, but not quite at the "Oh help, America, please save us!" level. Especially since, if the foe is easily defeated by a Mac...I'm fairly certain the guys with sticks could've held their own. (;
Maybe it's just because I'm an ignorant American ...

I'm sure it's not just that ... (totally kidding ;-).

Well, i've not seen it all the way through in ages (if I turn over and it's on a good bit I might watch for awhile) so maybe (as an arrogant Brit ;) i'm seeing it from a narrow perspective. I'll try to watch it with fresh eyes next time.
What Willowslay said. But of course there is an "and". ;-)

"I wonder if seeing it as helping out a 'bullied neighbour' is a bit wrongheaded though (and partly what sometimes bothers Brits, as if you came and sorted out some 'mess' we'd got involved in, put yourselves out to help in another European problem, rather than standing up for the very principles you guys are so - justly - proud of having written into the fabric of your country, with a healthy dose of self-preservation thrown in)."

I'm not actually talking right or wrong, just trying to put into words some of the emotional things that are tapped into in some of these movies that may be perceived differently in other countries. (Not the ethnocentric nonsense. Ther is no excuse for that.)

Believe me when i say that the part about "standing up for the very principles you guys are so proud of having written into the fabric of your country" is a big part of getting the country behind anything, but it is also a huge trap that can lead us into all kinds of places we are not wanted. Whatever the government's reasons for being somewhere are, the American people's reasons are pretty much always either to defend ourselves or help someone. That is the only way to sell a war here. That is why we seem to be easily defeated to some of these terrorist groups. If we are there because we are trying to help people and those same people seem to turn on us, our reaction is "To hell with them. Why are we here?"

"Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation?--Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?--Why by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humour or caprice?" - George Washington

and

"Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." - George Washington

and

"Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. " - George Washington

Interesting thoughts from our first Commander in Chief of the armed forces who wanted us to remain totally isolationist. That is still a big part of our national consciousness, so up until Pearl Harbor things were very uncertain. We had huge German and Italian populations, (twice as many Americans had been born in Germany and Italy as in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in 1940) a bad taste in our mouths for WW1, a small military and a depression. It is hard to imagine popular support for the kind of mobilization that had to take place in this country to create a military that could fight that war without Pearl Harbor. It may now seem the only possible thing for us to do, but with where the American public was sitting at the time nothing was certain. Once committed we sent everything we had overseas to the point that folks in Texas and Oklahoma were afraid the oil fields were in danger of invasion through the Gulf of Mexico because they had no way to defend them. So although the idea that America saved the Allies may seem silly and arrogant to Europeans, the idea that the Allies needed saving almost certainly started during the war to get Americans behind the idea of sending everything they could overseas and concentrating our troops in Europe. If the European Allies were not in desperate straights, why weren't we defending ourselves against and concentrating first on Japan who had attacked us in our own territory and would seem the biggest threat to our own safety?

Boy, I can talk a lot.
As a U.S. citizen .... not one so arrogant as to refer to myself as an "American" because hello .... Canada, Central America, South America, all part of the geographic region as well .... I have to say that not only do I think this is a really bad movie, but I just loathe the "U.S. rules not only the world but the known universe, us against them" tone. Nothing against Adam or any of the fine actors who had roles, large &
small .... an actor's gotta eat & this movie was big exposure. And nothing against those who enjoy the film as rousing action/SciFi fun, but since the discussion has turned political .... just making the point that not all of us U.S. peeps are into this flag-waving, might-makes-right vision of our country.

But my favorite thing about the movie happened in "The X-Files:Fight the Future" film, where Mulder takes a piss on the poster, in an alley.
And although it's a different holiday, I commend you Brits on this thread (is saje the only one?) for resisting the quoting of Giles from "Pangs": "I still have difficulty remembering not to refer to you lot as Colonials." :)
One more comment, in defense of Steven Spielberg. This is a big country and this may be a kind of West Cost centric thing, but many of us in the U.S. who have WWII ingrained in our brains, refer to "Nazis" rather than "Germans" for kind of the opposite reason, that is in recognition that not all Germans of that era were Nazis.
Although I see your point,saje, because in this instance, Spielberg was refering specifically to German soldiers in WWII.
Rant Warning

"As a U.S. citizen .... not one so arrogant as to refer to myself as an "American" because hello .... Canada, Central America, South America, all part of the geographic region as well ."

Here I have to take a stand. For better or for worse Americans is what we are called by most of the world when they are being nice. I refuse to call myself a United Statesian, since it is unwieldy, sounds ridicules, and because our neighbors to the South also have the name United States...of Mexico. So by calling yourself a U.S. citizen are you being arrogant in the belief that no one else is comes from a country that starts with the words United States? Not in my opinion.

Why does everybody else have the right to have a nice simple homey name derived from the name of their country but if we do, we're being arrogant and are therefore supposed to come up with something impersonal and hard to say casually like citizen of the USA? Yeah, that will catch on. I can see myself next time I'm in a foreign country being asked by a vendor "are you a U.S. citizen?" If he does, I'm going to start wondering if he is after my passport or up to something equally suspicious.

Wikipedia says:

"The prevailing use of American as synonymous with U.S. citizen has aroused controversy, particularly in Latin America, where Spanish and Portuguese speakers refer to themselves as "americanos" and use "estadounidense" to describe a person from the United States.[8] "

And yet I have never met someone in or from a Latin American country who first described themselves as an American. They were Mayan, they were Colombian, they were Brazilian, Peruvian etc. the ethnic or national group came first, then they would talk about being Americans...which they are, South Americans, or North Americans, or Native Americans, or Latin Americans or People of the Americas...which, by the way, so are we. We just have no other simple name for ourselves or for the rest of the world to call us when they are feeling polite. If someone wants to call us another name that works in Spanish that is fine, but for now the USA is an English speaking country and we should be able to call ourselves something that sounds decent in our own language. Why should people who have other names for their countries have exclusive rights to call themselves Americans and be taken seriously when they call others arrogant?

/rant
OK, does every statement have to have an "IMO" attached? I know personally a number of people from South and Central America who feel that we U.S. citizens are arrogant in our use of "American", as if we are the only country in the America's who has a claim to the term.
And as for Mexico, newcj I think that's a real stretch. The name of the country may technically be "The United States of Mexico" but how many people actually even know that? Mexico is Mexico .... I was born & raised in the L.A. area and I've never encountered a Mexican, (citizen of either Mexico or the U.S.) who thought or spoke of Mexico by any other name.
So what's so difficult about saying "I'm from the U.S."? I'm not saying everyone should do so, but it's not exactly all that difficult or unweildly, and I didn't expect to be attacked for mentioning that it's my personal choice to identify myself in this way.

And the Wikipedia quote just supports my point, that it is "controversial" in other countries that most of us here in the U.S. identify ourselves in a way that projects the assumption that we are the only real "Americans".
And I gotta say I don't understand that last sentence "Why should people who have other names for their countries have exclusive rights to call themselves Americans ...., because I didn't suggest that any other country does have that right.
I strongly suspect that your real problem is with my politics, which are made pretty clear by how I feel about the militaristic, saber-rattling tone of the movie Independence Day. Again, how large must I write an IMO??
For anyone who didn't read my original post, I made it clear that my personal opinion of the film is not meant to cast in a negative light anyone who participated in the film or who enjoyed it as an action/SciFi romp.
Bloody hell, i've started a(nother) civil war ! Still, it's a good old fashioned British tradition to start 'em (usually by drawing lines on a map) and then run like hell ...

Aww, I can't let it lie ;). FWIW Shey, my impression of newcj's politics in the past has not been of someone into the whole militaristic, sabre rattling thing, could be wrong.

Hadn't heard about the 'American' controversy though I suppose I can understand it to some extent. Also FWIW, over here whenever someone says American they mean from the US. We're obviously aware that Canada is part of the North American continent and that South America also has the word 'America' in its name but, though you'd refer to 'South America' as a continent, you'd talk about Mexicans or Peruvians or Brazilians etc. never 'Americans' (without the 'South' qualifier). And Canadians are also never referred to as Americans, we wouldn't do that to them (sorry, couldn't resist ;).

(wasn't until a few years back that I ran into someone - online - that strongly objected to the IMO affectionate 'Yank' because they were from one of the southern states and didn't identify as a 'Yankee'. Takes all sorts ;)

... but it is also a huge trap that can lead us into all kinds of places we are not wanted.

That is a very fair point newcj (as well as the one about what the 'story' may have been - and become - in order to justify it to the people of the time. We have our own about e.g. Dunkirk and to a lesser extent the Battle of Britain). I guess I see it as more clear cut when other sovereign countries have been invaded by a hostile aggressor (especially when there're long-standing alliances between us and them or, worse, it's our fault their neighbours are so aggressive in the first place. Iran, i'm looking at you. Chickens come home to roost, indeed).

This is why, though i'm sure there were a lot of hidden agendas even back in '91, I have much less trouble with the first gulf war than the second. I don't have a problem with sending out a clear message that if you don't respect the borders of other countries, you're gonna get beats. It's much murkier (to me) when aggression is taking place within another country though I think a case can still be made for multi-lateral interference (even the military kind - i'm thinking of Bosnia and Kosovo and, even moreso, i'm thinking of the international community's complete failure to prevent mass slaughter in Rwanda. No oil and not scarily close to the heart of Europe so why bother, right ? That is a stain on all our souls in the West and ever shall be).
I always refer to myself as an American. Had no idea that was now considered a bad thing.

How ridiculous. :/
Oddly enough I had intended that this thread for our American chums to celebrate their greatest holiday. But this seems to have got sidetracked somewhat as I obviously didn't make that clear.

So if we could return to my original premise , it would be awfully nice as I am exceedlingly jetlagged coming back from the States and just a tad tired.
Hee hee, Oh yeah, I'm a saber rattler from way back. LOL.

I remember a conversation some years ago.

Me: He just automatically assumed I was a bleeding heart liberal!

My Old Boss: Well you are, aren't you?

Me: Well...yeah...but that's not the point.

Shey I have only a casual interest in your opinion of the movie, which I have only seen on TV and several years ago. I'm the one that said that 1776 was my cup of...hmmm...my choice for 4th of July viewing. It is a wonderful musical, by the way. I would recommend it. It was written during the Vietnam war, so it is not the ra ra musical that would have been written in the last few years. It deals with the scope of what was going on in the months leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independance. It deals with the political infighting but also the fact that teenagers were fighting and dying, and that slavery was ingrained in the whole economy of the colonies...all while singing and dancing. It is not nearly as good on film as on the original Broadway production, but they did catch performances by the original cast, William Daniels, John Cullum, (He set fire to the stage in the original.) Ken Howard and Howard DeSilva. The book and lyrics liberally take phrases and quotes from all the historical characters in a totally integrated way. Everytime I see it, though I know they have to have the Declaration signed by July 4, I cannot figure how how they possibly can.

John Adams quotes I ran across that seem appropriate to remember at this time of our history:

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers."
John Adams - A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law (1765)


"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."
John Adams - Notes for an Oration at Braintree (Spring 1772)


Every time I read their words I respect the founders of the U.S.A. more. I wish some of our current leaders would take another look at what they had to say.

"and I didn't expect to be attacked for mentioning that it's my personal choice to identify myself in this way."

Shey I did not attak you, I disagreed with you and with your implications. It was this:

As a U.S. citizen .... not one so arrogant as to refer to myself as an "American"

wherein you indicate that anyone who is a U.S. citizen and calls themselves an American is "arrogant" that I objected to. This line of mine:

"Why should people who have other names for their countries have exclusive rights to call themselves Americans

was in direct reference to the people referred to in the Wikipedia article, who I assume you are supporting with your assertion that it is arrogant for Americans from the United States to refer to themselves as Americans. In that they seem to be claiming the title for themselves and seem to want us to take another name, as you also suggest, aren't they doing the same thing that they and you are accusing us of?

The difference is, I don't care what anyone else calls themselves, I only care if they try to tell me what to call myself. But to call people arrogant for doing something, says you think they should not be doing it. Therefore you and they are telling me what I should not call myself, as well as what the rest of the world should not call me, and I object to that.

"And Canadians are also never referred to as Americans, we wouldn't do that to them"

Not to mention the consequences to your dignity as you land flat on your butt. Make no mistake, Canadians may be well mannered, but they do have their limits.

"(wasn't until a few years back that I ran into someone - online - that strongly objected to the IMO affectionate 'Yank' because they were from one of the southern states and didn't identify as a 'Yankee'. Takes all sorts ;)"

Watch out with the snide comments or I'll sic my mother on you. The whole time we were in Britian, do you know the amount of work I had, keeping my mom from lecturing explaianing to every Brit who made the mistake of calling her a Yank exactly why she was not, and never would be, a Yankee thankyouverymuch? I kept saying "Yank, Mom, not Yankee. There's a difference." It did lead to some interesting pub discussions and some free drinks, however, so there were compensations. ;-)

Oh, and everybody take note: Saje started it!

ETA: Damn, just saw Simon's post. How much do I have to delete? (sigh)

[ edited by newcj on 2007-07-06 15:38 ]
I think you're OK up to the second 'hee' ;-). And I didn't start it, it was that bloody Dean Devlin. Right stirrer he is ;).

I actually fully expected this to be a 'happy independence day' thread Simon but it was pretty quiet in that regard and one comment led to another and before you knew it a conversation broke out. Presumably most of the on-board, err, citizens-of-the-USA ( ;) were out getting pished (or watching their favourite independence day themed films) rather than posting. Sensible lot ;).

And if your Mum didn't like 'Yank' newcj it's probably just as well she didn't hear the rhyming slang equivalent ;).

Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.
- Mark Twain

He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.
- Harry Emerson Fosdick

Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.
- Margaret Thatcher

I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.
- John Adams

Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in the world.
- Woodrow Wilson

We Americans live in a nation where the medical-care system is second to none in the world, unless you count maybe 25 or 30 little scuzzball countries like Scotland that we could vaporize in seconds if we felt like it.
- Dave Barry

From a few Americans I respect (and one Brit who, err, not so much. She's still right though).

(mentally shuffle chauvinist language as appropriate - I won't change a quote, no matter how "of its time" it may be)
"And if your Mum didn't like 'Yank' newcj it's probably just as well she didn't hear the rhyming slang equivalent ;)."

I can imagine, but my e-mail is in my profile if you want to let me see if I am right. Of course my mother would probably appreciate that assessment of a Yankee. ;-)

Thanks for the quotes. Here are some of John Adams thoughts about the day that became the 4th of July (he thought it would be the 2nd of July) that he wrote to his wife on the day after the vote to adopt the Declaration of Independence.

Yesterday the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America; and a greater perhaps never was, nor will be, decided among men. A resolution was passed without one dissenting colony, "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."



I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even although We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.



The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.

John Adams - from letters to Abigail Adams (1776-07-03)
OK, tempest in a teapot IMO. Which is as far as I know, a British expression, I picked up a lot of them watching Buffy. (English? Citizen of the U.K.ish?)

The thing is, I didn't mean to offend anyone. My phrasing was not intended to suggest that any citizen of the U.S.A. who refers to themselves as an "American" is arrogant, although if I'd given it any thought, I would have realized that it came off sounding that way.
I have been personally (although gently and politely) chastized for refering to myself as an "American", on a forum run out of Australia. So I guess it struck a chord with me, because I'm not exactly feeling proud of my country this (just past) Independence Day. Which we ... umm, Americans, universally refer to as "The Fourth of July" :)
As for all the John Adams quotes, Adams was obviously no Thomas Jefferson, with all the religious references so soon after the signing of a document that for the first time in the history of establishing a new country, made explicit that there should be a separation of Church and State.
Ah, but isn't that even more admirable in some ways Shey ? He personally believed in God but realised that for the good of the people, church and state should be separate. That's both clear-headed and tolerant.

And the most 'god packed' quote above is from a letter to his wife, so bound to be more personal and less 'prepared' for public consumption.

(not to besmirch Jefferson, BTW, but Adams never owned slaves - just another way they were different)
I know saje, John Adams was cool and they were all products of their times. I have a great deal of admiration for my country's constitition, the beauty of which lies in it being constructed in a manner that allows for updating specifics for changing times, while retaining the general intent. All the more reason I was crabby this Independence Day, since we've been losing it in bits and pieces and the occasional big chunk, for the last seven years.
Adams was a practical thinker who stood up for what he thought was right in a multitude of different circumstances. When I first heard that he had volunteered to be the defense attorney for the British soldiers brought up on charges for the Boston Massacre, and won, I thought this is a man of amazing principle and courage. This guy was a radical revolutionary, yet...

"The law...will not bend to the uncertain wishes, imaginations and wanton tempers of men...On the one hand it is inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners; on the other it is deaf, deaf as an adder, to the clamors of the populace."
Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials (1770-12-04)


The quotes I posted yesterday also made me think. He was just about to sign something that condemned him to a horrible death as a traitor if he were ever caught by one of the greatest military powers on Earth, and he seems almost giddy. I know this had been something he was working on for years, had already endured hardships to achieve, and they are letters to his wife who he would not want to remind of the dangers, but he sounds amazingly sure that the colonists will win against the might of the British Empire.

As far as the religion thing. His writings show an ambivilance about religion that I can certainly relate to.

"Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell."
Letter to Thomas Jefferson (1817-04-19)


This is not John Adams writing, but interesting that this was put into words and unanimously approved by the US Senate in 1797.

"As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] it is declared that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
The Treaty of Tripoli (1797-01-04). Carried unanimously by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, US Consul)


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