Celebrating Patriot’s Day is celebrating slavery, oppression, and death?

Philip Greenspun's Weblog 2018-04-16

As a New Englander, let me wish all readers a Happy Patriot’s Day!

April 19, 1775 saw the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the start of the secession of British North America from Great Britain (this was virtuous and not to be confused with the traitorous secession of the southern states from the U.S. a few decades later).

The American Revolution was a great thing for some rich white people who got a lot of additional wealth and power. But celebrating the rich and white is out of fashion these days, no?

Consider the alternative fate of black Americans. Slavery in Europe had ended by 1000. Britain abolished slavery throughout its empire in 1833 (Wikipedia). Thus it seems that an entire generation of black Americans could have enjoyed freedom if the American Revolution had never occurred. (Arguably the colonists were some of the cruelest humans on the planet. They came from a place where slavery hadn’t existed for 500+ years and instituted slavery. That’s worse than growing up in a society where slavery existed, but not being an active abolitionist, no?)

How about Native Americans? A “steal land and power from Native Americans” day would not attract many public celebrants today, would it? Yet the American Revolution resulted in the elimination of Native American political power west of the Proclamation Line (see Wikipedia entry on the Indian Reserve).

What about non-rich white Americans? Hundreds of thousands might have avoided death in the Civil War.

By our current standards of vilifying the rich and white and celebrating victims, what is there to celebrate in Patriot’s Day?