I’m not sure where to start. Because if you regularly read this column, then it won’t make too much sense when I begin by saying that I spent part of my Fourth of July at some cheap suburban parade. One of those blocks-long homages to that vibe in the first Back to the Future, an America that was jolly and dandy (literally, people used those words) for white folks in sweater vests, but more or less a shit puddle for everyone else. Norman Rockwell, but without the texture and talent.
In any case, let’s just say that I was there with family and friends. I won’t even note what awful Massachusetts town I was unfortunate to be in, not only because I don’t want to embarass or shame the people I was with who also just happened to be invited to a party down the street from where the floats passed, but I also can’t stress enough how these spectacles are all the same everywhere anyway. I’m not sure why different groups across the state feel they need to host their own parades instead of simply teaming up with neighboring communities, but I’m sure that even asking such a question these days (yeah, I know, I kind of just did) is rhetorically tantamount to spitting into an over-the-top patriotic conservative’s cocktail if they walk in your restaurant.
What do parades have to do with right-wing politics anyway? Good question. I’m not exactly sure, since Americans are red, white, and blue, plus a lot of other shades. Also, these things are supposed to be for kids, right? And judging by how few of them vote after they turn 18, most children aren’t heavy into politics. Nevertheless, between the booming brass bands and the veterans in glistening antique machines (both of which I’m happy to admit I’ve rather enjoyed ogling at many such parades throughout the years) were legionaries of some notably depraved GOP candidates for office, as well as the hopefuls themselves in some cases.
Perhaps I’m being lazy, but sometimes it is hard to find the energy to explain in great detail why people like Plymouth County DA Tim Cruz, whose office cost the state nearly a quarter-million dollars in just one fine last year, or Trump-thumping state Rep. Geoff Diehl aren’t worth a smidgen of the shameless superficial claps they were all pitied in Everytown, Mass, last week. There has been some outrage on social media about Shiva Ayyadurai, who is running against US Sen. Elizabeth Warren and whose bus bearing the slogan “Only a REAL INDIAN can defeat the Fake Indian” barrelled through multiple towns (people were especially pissed about his appearance in Plymouth, understandably, considering genocide, etc.). But when it actually went down, at least from where I was standing, people simply stood there on the sidelines making sounds and clapping for some seriously unsavory characters. And that’s unfortunate.
Finally, and I can’t believe I feel I have to say this even after all these years of writing nonviolent dissenting opinions, here’s a departing note preemptively addressed for any ignoramus who thinks any of the shit I spun above makes me or even people who think all parades are stupid automatically unpatriotic. As I have both believed and said out loud since George W. Bush started more wars than he has read books, it’s far more shameful to back military actions that serve to make a few wealthy people fatter than it is to call for justice and transparency for those who risk their lives. The latter is the definition of patriotic; the former is a fraud.
Now there’s a message that belongs on a float. Maybe if a halfway decent politician marches with the mouth-breathers one day, they will consider using it.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.