A National Day of Protest

Independence Day isn't what it used to be. It isn't even what it was a year ago, when I wrote my first "Mourn on the Fourth of July" essay. When I sat down to write the second one this year, I was appalled when I began to catalog the difference that a year can make.

I shared the second essay with a few friends -- and they agreed. Several of them even thought that the concept deserved to have some action attached to it, and that's why this page exists.

What is "Mourn on the Fourth of July?" As the headline says, it's a "national day of protest." If that sounds a bit nebulous, let me clarify: participants in the protest will do one of several things.

They might wear a black piece of cloth around one arm all day on the Fourth of July.

They might fly the American flag upside down from their front porch (an upside-down flag is the international symbol of distress).

If they have a web site, they might "drape the front page in mourning" by changing its background color to black and displaying a graphic like the one at the top of this page.

They might spread the word to their friends about doing all of these things.

The point, as with all protests, is to call attention to a problem -- in this case, the massive drift of the United States away from the ideals that inspired its founding and that are embodied in the Bill of Rights, especially in the ten long, ugly months since September 11th, 2001.

That's it. That's all. But that's very important. Until America confronts the fact that a problem exists, no solution is possible.

I don't expect our government to stop what it is doing, slap itself on its figurative forehead, and say "Wow! We really have gone way overboard. Let's fix it!" just because a bunch of people wear black armbands and make their web sites black for a day.

But I do expect the freedom movement to be a little larger on July 5th than it was on July 3rd.

I don't expect everyone who reads my two little articles to agree with everything in them.

But I do expect most people who investigate those black armbands and darkened web sites to understand that the concerns they give voice to are very real and to commit themselves, in some small way, to changing things.

So here's the drill. If you want to participate, pick your own way of doing so. Here is what I recommend:

I don't know if this little protest will accomplish anything. I'm not as optimistic as I used to be. But I think it's worth doing, and I'm asking for your help.

Next year in Philadelphia,
Tom Knapp