Last week, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law making June 19, also known as “Juneteenth,” a federal holiday commemorating the day on which the last enslaved Americans were notified of the emancipation proclamation in 1865.
Beyond the debate regarding the decision itself, what makes this particularly fascinating is the Left’s reaction, which exemplifies the fundamental difference in how so-called progressives view the notion of celebratory events.
“Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments,” Biden said during a signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. “Great nations don’t walk away. We come to terms with the mistakes we made. And remembering those moments, we begin to heal and grow stronger.”
For many, this seems likely a strangely negative way to describe the celebration of something we should celebrate: slavery’s true ending. However, when we understand how the Left actually view the act of commemoration, Biden’s rhetoric becomes perfectly clear.
For the Left, the end of something bad is not something to be celebrated unless it is primarily an acknowledgement of the existence of that “bad thing.” Then, the next step of such acknowledgement is to act as a starting point for further “work.”
In this context, Juneteenth is not a celebration of the end of slavery, but rather an acknowledgement alone of the evils of slavery. By making this ideological switch, Juneteenth becomes a starting point in a deliberately never-ending pursuit of “racial justice,” instead of a self-contained celebration of the eradication of an immoral evil.
Now, this isn’t to say that celebratory events can’t be at least partly rooted in the acknowledgement of history’s darker periods. However, the subtle but core difference between acknowledgement as a primary and secondary feature is the important part here. If we are celebrating the end of something bad, the acknowledgement of the “something bad” should be secondary. Primarily, we are celebrating the fact that the “something bad” has been eradicated.
Unfortunately, there is no political profit to be gained by those who masquerade as “progressives,” because progress is never the goal. Instead, the perception of progress is what matters. That is why the Left will never celebrate Juneteenth as the practical end of slavery, because that would acknowledge the existence of significant and society-defining change outside of Democratic Party control. Instead, it must be repackaged as a prerequisite for future change, as a culture-wide admittance of historical wrongdoing, as an opportunity for sombre self-reflection. And, most importantly, as a justification to vote Democrat in upcoming elections.
That is why the Left will never cheer the end of something “bad” without first setting their sights on what must follow the celebrations. If they were to join us and celebrate the end of slavery as a historical good, they might just find themselves with no “progress” with which to ideologically bribe their supposedly “oppressed” voters.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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