You might hear, too, about how our forefathers threw off the yoke of British tyranny. In our ongoing effort to convince ourselves that our freedom only exists in these United States, we continue to locate "tyranny" in other countries that, conveniently, Tea-Partiers and other flag-waving rubes have never been to: whether it's the Soviet-style national healthcare of Canada, the Maoist and anti-American secularism of France, the (symbolic) monarchy of the UK, the Nazi-ist fever-dream of the Euro Zone. It's a madlibs that media personalities model for the viewers at home: select a social program, select a tyrannical regime from the 20th century, then compare them in public.
It's too bad that on this day we're not more preoccupied with throwing off the tyrannies that persist in our own country, the ones that emerge subtly and without fanfare in the midst of our very "freedom." "Free" markets have led to a publicly-subsidized corporate oligarchy that would terminate your job if it meant a slight increase in profits; "freedom" of religion has led to a "christian" state that is more hung up on decreeing who can love who than it is interested in the actual christian mission of helping the less fortunate.
But I want to focus here on a different tyranny, very much of a piece with the above tyrannies, insofar as it is a function of our perverted idea of freedom: that is, the tyranny of the automobile. (
|Life would be so much easier if cars were just people, flawed like you or I.|
|The Cars are not to blame.|
|The Tea Party is about as batshit as this one.|
"Conservatives have long derided mass transit — like welfare, perceived to be the domain of poor urban black people — as a 'socialistic program' imported from Europe." But this xenophobia
|People hanging out in the middle of Market St, Philadelphia, a century ago.|
So this Independence Day, I want to celebrate the inroads that we've made into the overthrow of the tyranny of the automobile. I'm proud to live in a city that recognizes the need for bicycle lanes and that ensures my natural right to move about my space freely. And I remain hopeful that one day Philadelphia might look that way that Louis Kahn had envisioned it when he drew up his traffic flow plan for Center City, that there will be roads dedicated to all forms of transportation, and that even when we find ourselves barred from a certain roadway because our vehicle of choice is prohibited, we will see this not as an affront to our "freedom," not as an affront to the United States, but as a just and fair measure meant to ensure the well being of all.
|Louis Kahn's gorgeous traffic flow plan for Center City Philadelphia.|