8 March 2013
The Hypocrisy of this Nation
The Fourth of July has been celebrated, for hundreds of years, as the independence of America from its oppressor Great Britain. This day signifies a day of victory and triumph over the injustice that reigned over the newly formed colonies. However, Frederick Douglass in his lecture What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? portrays the sadness and disdain that he feels for this day. Having once lived under the chains of slavery, Douglass is especially aware of the hypocrisy that this nation takes part in as it celebrates liberty, justice and independence. Douglass fervently critiques the institution of American slavery and the ideals behind it by depicting the mockery and hypocrisy behind the beliefs that protect the chains of slavery upon innocent human biengs. Firstly Douglass begins by depicting the hypocrisy that is held within the celebration of the Fourth of July which should signify justice and liberty for their country; meanwhile they continue to enslave black people. Douglass without fear declares, “the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July” (156). This statement makes it quite evident that Douglass is not joining in on the false celebration of what this nation calls freedom, liberty and independence from the oppressor. Instead Douglass goes on to say, “America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future” (156). This is a critique of the American institution of slavery as it makes reference to the roots of this nation’s existing and its history of once living under a tyrant who kept its colonies oppressed. This technique used by Douglass is extremely powerful as it forces the audience to contemplate the hypocrisy of this day that they are celebrating. Douglass forces them to realize that meanwhile they are celebrating freedom from the oppressor, they continue to force...