The Other July 4

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

On July 4, 1776, the United States committed itself to a set of principles. It did not always live up to those words. But the words exerted their own power.

By David Frum | The Atlantic | July 4, 2021

Alamy / Los Angeles Examiner / Corbis / Getty / The Atlantic

When my wife and I were young parents living in Manhattan, we rented an apartment above a psychiatrist with many wealthy patients. Through each hour of the working day, a succession of limousines and drivers would wait on the curb for one patient after another to exit the office. I once had the opportunity to ask what brought his clients to his door. He answered that they all presented versions of the same complaint: They thought they were frauds. I followed up: How did he treat them? “I try to help them see with the eyes of others,” he told me.

Listening to many Americans talk about their nation’s history, these days, is like an encounter with a depressed person. There seems to be no restraint upon the appetite for self-reproof, no patience for context or comparison. If one reminds the depressed person of how much he or she means to others—how many admire and even love him or her—that seems to only make things worse. That just proves how deluded those others are! How ignorant of the ghastly reality!