by Tom Arcaro
Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
— Thomas Paine, “The Rights of Man”
Consider me relieved that the flag-waving and fireworks of the Fourth of July are behind us. As a scholar who appreciates irony, I can’t help but notice that lost within our celebrations each year is the fact that leading voices in our fight for independence cautioned against this very same patriotic myopia.
Influential ideas from Thomas Paine, whose works inspired tens of thousands of people to align against Great Britain at the dawn of the Revolution, likely would be dubbed “un-American” today by those who believe the red, white and blue can do little wrong.
Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University. He can be reached at email@example.com.