Fireworks Are Racist?

How was your Fourth of July? Did you stuff your craw with hot dogs and starchy potato salad? Did you celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small chunk of it? Or perhaps you marked the occasion by single-handedly downing a case of watery Busch Light (a formerly domestic brew now owned by Belgians—neoliberal American capitalism FTW!) in the spirit of 1787.

However you took in our country’s birthday, some Americans, in perfectly American unquiet fashion, weren’t so keen on the occasion. The usual party-poopers were at play: Uncle Sam haters, BreadTube malcontents, Juneteenth-only observers, and, the suburban legend herself, fireworkphobic Karen.

National Geographic, the periodical famous for mainstreaming the image of African bushmen in loincloths, waded into the fraught high-theory of “critical race” by pointing out the adverse impact pyrotechnic smoke has on blacks. “Scientists found that vulnerable people and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to air pollution from firework celebrations,” the monthly tweeted.

Who are these scientists studying the miasma of sky oxidizers anyway? TNTtologists?

The takeaway was as predictable as a DiAngelo shame-seminar: fireworks are racist. And anyone who so much as gazes at their multicolored blooming glory against the night sky is a Herman Talmadge stan. Oh, and if you watched any fireworks as a child, in person or even through the cathode mediator of PBS, you committed unconscionable racist crimes, and the Southern Poverty Law Center will accept your atonement fee in either check or credit card (not American Express, though, because of the colonial connotations in the company name).

Slagging a favorite American pastime like fireworks as KKKtainment might seem like déformation professionnelle for the staple journal of every dentist office. But the editors at National Geographic are patterning their editorial choices after a fad in mainstream journalism: questioning the premise behind every American tradition, no matter its size or relevance, and grubbing for any possible reason why it can be construed as cruel or bigoted.

Nat Geo was actually late to the anti-Fourth beat. Two years ago, The Washington Post published a series of indited bellyaches about the horrors of summer. The compendium was published in the “Lifestyle” section, despite the overall sentiment being one of yearning for life’s quick extinguishment. In one entry, fireworks were described as “America’s favorite face exploding, dog torturing, bird murdering way to celebrate its birthday.” Fireworks are dangerous, if you didn’t know. These combusting projectiles can evaporate entire murmurations. Their patented BOOM! sends Sparky head-first under the couch, causing enuresis. Of course, changing flight paths and wind turbines have also been known to cause avian genocide. And your purebred bichon frise acts like it’s the Enola Gay redux every time an Amazon deliverista steps on your front stoop. The latter two instances happen far more frequently than the one time of year when the American firmament is alight in patriotic effulgence. Can’t extreme solutionism take a break for one day?

It would be easy to ascribe the motivation behind these “everything you think is good is bad” rant pieces to simple click bait. Nothing gets the Facebook hive angrily buzzing like a white-hot contrarian take. But the left—and let’s not be mistaken, it’s never the right who wails about life’s little imperfections—doesn’t waste air on just expostulating gripes. It’s no mere miserabilism: there’s a political purpose, always. In undercutting the joy of commemorating our republic’s birth, lefties agitate for one thing: schism.

Treating what Aristotle called the “various civilized pursuits of life lived together” as repellent is the old Leninist tactic of heightening the contradictions. Think this heretofore tradition you’ve enjoyed since your wee years is innocuous? Well, actually, you’ve been a moral monster your entire life. Now don’t you want to rethink everything you thought you knew about your country, all the habits of heart you’ve internalized, and vote to end the confusion? Clarity is just a down-the-line leftist ballot away!

Inventing strife creates division; that division is capitalized on to rend the national fabric and make the country, and by extension your family and community, unrecognizable. Hannah Arendt famously wrote about how the severing of social ties leads to authoritarian regimes. The snipping can start with something as simple as shaming a holiday tradition. Next comes disabusing you of your “flawed” and “uncontextual” view of history, e.g. everyone you grew up admiring was an earthly duse. Eventually, your parents are put through the purity wringer and—surprise!—it turns out they’re morally blemished and beyond rehabilitation.

Leftist ideology isn’t just an ablution for all the wretched, intolerant sin, but it also provides a new connection to others, devoid of the taint of wrongthink. A new loyalty to Marxist redistributionism to replace the old, guilt-ridden loyalty to family and country. Three easy steps for a glorious despotic future: isolate, propagandize, communize.

Guilt-tripping Americans over July 4th fireworks is just more mental malleting in service to the higher leftist cause of transposing tradition. Don’t be shamed into giving up our annual illumination of the sky with colored potassium nitrate. Independence Day has passed but light a leftover sparkler anyway. Eat a hamburger. Recite the Constitution’s preamble. Celebrate our heritage every day, otherwise we’ll be doing forced readings of How to Be an Antiracist come next Fourth of July.

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Taylor Lewis

Taylor Lewis writes from Virginia.

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