Many Tweeters took issue with the very idea that Harris-Perry would even mention slavery and genocide in a discussion about the nation's birthday, her doing so deemed "trashing America." Is it untrue that our nation's founding also coincided with the taking of land that belonged to others? Is it a lie that our nation was built by shackled hands? No, that's all true. Why, then, is it anti-American to state these immutable facts?
What I gather is that these irate Tweeters and others have a problem with these national stains being highlighted or foregrounded on a day that should be spent celebrating. Harris-Perry's choice in "celebration," then, is considered inappropriate or in poor taste.
Is she raining on the Independence Day parade? Perhaps, but I believe the lack of such discussions do a major disservice to us all, especially our children. It does them no good to learn about the Declaration of Independence and fights for liberty and equality if they're getting only part of the story. It seems so many people want to pretend that these stains never existed, but they're integral to the founding of this country--just as integral as the signing of the Declaration on July 4, 1776. If it is a worthy tradition to acknowledge, each July 4th, the ideals of liberty and equality that the Founding Fathers espoused, then it is just as worthy and even responsible to acknowledge the hypocrisy inherent in those ideals.
Yesterday, my 10-month-old, Mini Mo, wore a "My First 4th" onesie that was embossed with red and blue stars and an Uncle Sam hat. And when she's old enough, we'll pop firecrackers and grill out on the 4th, but we'll also discuss the reasons that everyone didn't have cause to celebrate on July 4, 1776--or for that whole next century. That's not anti-American in the least. It's history--American history--and that won't make my child a "slave" to the past. It will make her educated.
I'm not out to defend Harris-Perry. (She's a grown woman--and a scholarly, brilliant, eloquent one at that. She needs no back-up from me.) As she indeed points out in her Independence Day segment, though, she is proud of her country, imperfections and all. We can all be patriotic and honest at the same time, striving for those 18th-century ideals in the process.