- At least 80% of Independence Day fireworks shows are canceled this year.
- Authorities have criticized and tightened restrictions on gatherings ahead of July 4th.
- But many of the same officials supported police protests in June despite the pandemic. Is public health or politics at play?
Instead of celebrating Independence Day this July 4th, many Americans will be sheltering at home.
A recent surge in virus cases in some states has led to another wave of closures. Public places and certain businesses will have to wait longer before returning to normal. Meanwhile, state and municipal governments are stepping up enforcement of public health guidance.
Caught in the middle of the pandemic is this year’s July 4th festivities, with Independence Day fireworks shows canceled across the United States. Communities have canceled fireworks displays from the lakes of Minnesota to the hills of Tennessee. This summer, the night skies will remain dark across the plains of Texas, and from sea to shining sea:
As many as 80 percent of community fireworks displays in large cities and small rural towns have been canceled this year over fear that they would create a social distancing nightmare.
But many government authorities and media outlets have come under fire for exercising a double standard. Some of the same governors, mayors, and journalists who have criticized Trump rallies and restricted Fourth of July celebrations, defended mass gatherings for protests in June.
Independence Day Fireworks Canceled, But Feel Free to Protest
Republican National Committee Spokesperson Liz Harrington said:
We shouldn’t have to have the scorn and negativity coming from the media and Democrats. You have every right to go out and protest peaceably, but you also have every right to go out and celebrate our great country…
While Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized this year’s federal Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, she shrugged off any COVID-19 concerns about Black Lives Matter protests in D.C. Speaking at a protest in early June, Bowser said:
We simply all want to be here together in peace to demonstrate that in America, you can peacefully assemble.
In Nashville, Tennessee, one group of Independence Day revelers is even calling their July 4th celebration a protest to be allowed to gather. A group called “Free Nashville” is holding a “Freedom Rally” Saturday on Broadway downtown. A local NBC affiliate reported:
The group says it is frustrated with the rules and regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and over having to call something a protest in order to gather.
The contrast between authorities’ treatment of police protests and Independence Day celebrations is most stark in California.
Weaponizing A Pandemic for Political Ends
In blue California, Democratic Governor Newsom warned residents not to gather in large groups to celebrate Independence Day July 4th. He even said family gatherings in the back yard are one of his biggest concerns:
One of the areas of biggest concern as it relates to the spread of COVID-19 in this state remains family gatherings.
The California governor issued tightening restrictions on the public to “mitigate” large crowds over the weekend. But as large crowds gathered for police protests across the Golden State, Newsom was supportive. He justified the apparent double standard this week by saying:
And people also understand that we have a Constitution, we have a right to free speech and we are all dealing with a moment in our nation’s history that is profound and pronounced.
Maybe that’s the perfect time to gather together on Independence Day in celebration and thankfulness for Americans’ freedoms. There are no known studies indicating COVID-19 is more likely to be spread by gratitude than by grievance.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.