It was grotesque grandstanding, chaired by an equally grotesque President of the United States of America, prompting his detractors to remark with tongue firmly in cheek: “All men are created equal. But one is created more equal than others. And his name is Donald Trump”.
The celebrations at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial to mark Independence day on the Fourth of July turned out to be radically different from similar occasions in the past. The showboating, to say the least, chimed oddly with the solemnity of the occasion. This is quite the most charitable construct that can be placed upon the militaristic, jingoistic jamboree that ran counter to the certitudes of tradition.
Was he trying to convey a message to Iran with his “Salute to America” event? An answer to the query may not be forthcoming quite yet. Nonetheless, it is hard not to wonder whether the I-Day grandstanding was organised by the Pentagon. It was, in point of fact, a “Salute to the American soldier” and beneath the statue of Abraham Lincoln in a presentation that was, as is customary, marked by an overdose of rhetoric ~ “We are one people chasing one dream and one magnificent destiny.
We all share the same heroes, the same home, the same heart, and we are all made by the same almighty God.” The US now boasts the world’s most fearsome arsenal at its disposal, and Trump made it pretty obvious that he was showing it off. There are not many in America, where the Democrats are now on the ascendant, who will readily endorse President Trump’s agenda.
It would, therefore, be less than accurate to suggest that he was playing to the domestic gallery. The showboating was carefully choreographed as he introduced the F-22 Raptors, a B-2 Stealth bomber, and the US Navy Blue Angels that roared loudly over the Washington monument, the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial.
The show of military might was greeted by the President with the salutation to the nation ~ “Great country!”. If history, as EH Carr has remarked, is a “hyphen between past and present”, Mr Trump can be said to have hit the bull’s eye. Days ahead of his Fourth of July show, he had dismissed accusations that he was politicising an important holiday, emulating such displays in authoritarian countries and wasting taxpayers’ money with the event.
The National Parks Service reportedly re-directed $ 2.5 million in park entrance fees to help pay for the event. One could argue that the President was anticipating a fair measure of criticism. In effect, he has propped up the military and exceptionally so. Democracy was at a discount in its fountain-head on the Fourth of July. And that succinctly is the heart of the matter.