‘Summer of joy and freedom’
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
In the early days of the American Revolutionary War that began with the battles in Lexington and Concord in April 1775, complete independence from Britain was nothing but a radical idea. In January 1776, Thomas Paine preached the justification for independence and ignited the revolutionary sentiment with his book “Common Sense.” That summer, the Declaration of Independence was adopted, proclaiming the obvious truth that all men are created equal. The 4th of July is Independence Day in the United States.
Every year, spectacular fireworks displays light up the country. Last year’s Covid-19 pandemic and protests against racial discrimination couldn’t stop the fireworks. Street events were cancelled, but fireworks were set off from home. The related industry enjoyed an unprecedented boom. This year, large-scale events are resuming, causing a shortage of firecrackers.
The White House has invited 1,000 guests who were at the frontline in the fight against coronavirus to an Independence Day event. There, the White House will declare a “summer of joy and freedom.” It is a declaration of independence from the coronavirus that killed 600,000 Americans. Nearly seven in 10 Americans over 18 have received at least one dose of vaccine. Nearly 90 percent of people over 65 have been vaccinated once.
But American society is facing an unexpected crisis amid the easing of Covid-19 restrictions and warmer weather. Public security is at risk. The beautiful city of San Francisco was practically lawless, with thieves robbing a store in the downtown area. In broad daylight, thieves openly stole goods with three people watching, including a security guard. Regardless of surveillance, thieves break car windows and steal things, and the arrest rate is below 3 percent.
Violent crimes, especially gun violence, is more serious. According to non-profit organization Gun Violence Archive (GVA), more than 300 shootings with four or more victims have occurred this year alone. It is 30 percent more than the same period last year and a 60 percent increase from 2019. Crimes involving guns are on the rise as crowds gather on weekends.
President Joe Biden is furious as the celebration may be ruined. Right before the holiday, a series of security measures have been announced. He stressed gun control and zero tolerance on rogue gun dealers, “We will make sure you can’t sell death and mayhem in our streets.” However, a stronger gun control bill hasn’t been processed by the Senate.
With economic inequality deepening and chronic racial discrimination and gun violence on the rise, the warning signs are there that this won’t be a summer of joy and freedom.