Team America: UC Berkeley students on the Fourth of July

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Alvaro Azcarraga/Staff

The Fourth of July, though seemingly the most one-dimensional holiday, defined by self-indulgence, a mindless hurrah for our liberties and an almost masturbatory worship of the Team America thesis — “freedom is the only way” — is actually laced with complexity and controversy.

On the one hand, it provides a platform for us to use copious amounts of beer and fireworks to glorify this nation’s freedom while distracting from deeper systemic problems and masking a history of brutal exploitation. That said, it’s a necessary holiday because it celebrates the autonomy and liberties packaged into this All-American lifestyle that is too easy to take for granted. This country, though extremely flawed, is nonetheless special. Some may even call it “great.”

We at the Clog toyed with this notion of American “greatness” and polled you guys on campus before the real party started, asking you what you’re celebrating this Fourth and to evaluate America’s “greatness” in the context of its birthday. Is America great? Was it ever great? Can we make it great again?

Here’s a peek into how and what you guys are celebrating this Fourth, how you’re assessing America’s questionable greatness and how, if possible, it can be greater — again.

“I feel like (the Fourth of July) is more about partying than anything else. It’s really removed from what the holiday is actually about, which is celebrating independence, freedom, this country. But at least right now, in Berkeley, it’s just another excuse to party, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all.” — Ariana Vargas

“One thing that I really appreciate about America is the idea of it and I guess the “values” *air quotes* that people think this country is. Like I know my parents came to America for a better life for my generation specifically. And my grandparents did that too.” — Jonathan Huang

“I think this Fourth of July is a little more saddening than most. It’s my first time being able to vote in an election and this time it’s a little bit more of a lesser of two evils, which kind of makes me sad and almost embarrassed to be partaking in something that’s supposed to be such a Democratic process.” — Remington Parker

“I think America, in some aspects, is already pretty great. But sometimes I think that Donald Trump’s ideas of becoming ‘great again’ is just exaggerated and unnecessary sometimes. I think the United States is already great enough. I think you guys have very big participation in every sector, in most sectors of the world.” — Lucas Porto (exchange student from Brazil)

“(Greatness) doesn’t really mean anything. Just like saying it’s great or not great it’s not a real metric. You can’t actually rate that. I’m Native American and I’m also half Black, so this country is built on top of a lot of my ancestors, but I also would rather be here than a lot of other places in the world. At this point, it’s a good place to be.” — Jonathan Lowery   

“America is great. If anything, it’s the only country in the world that was not built on a single ethnic group, so that’s what makes us special. I think America is basically the UN, people from around the world, especially people who already did really great in their country and then came to the United States. I don’t feel the Fourth of July means anything to me, because I am not an American now — yet.” — Luyao Wang (international student from mainland China)

“I mean, for me as an international student (from Albania), it’s the day we celebrate all the opportunities offered — like career-wise and also in terms of living a fulfilling lifestyle and getting the most out of the college experience.” — Eranda Bregasi (international student from Albania)

CLOG: What does it mean when Donald Trump says he’s going to make America great again?

Eranda Bregasi: “Jokes.”

“The Fourth of July is a good holiday to have a birthday because there’s always a theme, like everybody is always in red, white and blue, everyone barbecues, there are lots of sparklers, it’s like a good excuse to celebrate when there’s a holiday and a birthday mixed together, and then you have your fireworks. Oh and they’re for sure, 100 percent celebrating me. It’s like ‘Independence Day, asterisk ‘Shira Kindler’s birthday.’” — Shira Kindler

Contact Natalie Silver at [email protected].