Our View | On Being American, Even in Dissent

Our View
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By The Signal Editorial Board

This Fourth of July is a welcome change. For the first time since 2019, the Santa Clarita Valley will truly come together as a community and celebrate the birth of our nation with a good old-fashioned hometown Fourth of July parade.

Thank you to Leon Worden and the Fourth of July parade committee for making it happen.

The 2020 and 2021 editions of this community tradition — which dates back to 1932 —  were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

And now, in 2022, we’re back. Just in time, it seems, because everyone could benefit from a healthy dose of what it means to be American.

The freedoms we enjoy were hard-won, dating back to the United States’ founding on July 4, 1776. They have been fought for again and again, protected again and again, preserved in a toll of blood and lives.

Today, many of those freedoms are under attack, as we are a nation in turmoil roiled in strife driven by social discord, foreign wars and a pesky, sometimes-fatal virus that refuses to go away.

2022 may not be the most stressful time America has experienced. That dubious distinction is best reserved for the Civil War, the world wars, the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

But it’s certainly the most stress our nation has shouldered in recent memory, and the freedoms we often take for granted are in many corners under attack: Equal protection under the laws. The rights of states to govern themselves on matters not enumerated in the Constitution as federal responsibilities. The right to protect yourself.

And, perhaps most crucially, the right to freely speak one’s opinion — to disagree with the government, and express that dissent.

The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that right, yet we increasingly are seeing movements and even overt efforts to squelch that right. 

Here at The Signal, we guard that right and hold it dear. Within reasonable parameters for good taste or defamation, we extend it on our opinion pages to all who wish to participate, regardless of political leanings.

Yet, routinely, we hear from one end of the political spectrum or another that we shouldn’t publish their opponents’ opinions. 

It’s symptomatic of a nation whose citizens have not only stopped listening to each other, but are also willfully refusing to listen — and seeking to silence dissent.

The First Amendment exists to facilitate the free exchange of ideas. There are many who wish to squelch that freedom, because they only want to hear the things they agree with.

They don’t know how good they have it. If your opponent’s speech can be squelched, so can yours. Be careful what you ask for. In a way, the most important speech to protect is the speech you find repugnant.

That’s the foundation America was built on, the most core of our core freedoms, the very first item listed when the nation’s Founding Fathers created the Bill of Rights.

This Fourth of July, let’s not forget those freedoms, and let’s not forget that they apply to everyone. Let’s celebrate what it means to be an American, and then let’s practice it, by speaking, and listening, and re-learning how to disagree agreeably in recognition of the fact that we are Americans first.

All of us.

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