Happy Independence Day, friends. And Google, too.

I hope all of you in the States have a meaningful American Independence Day, and that those from other lands have a safe and warm day even if it’s just a Wednesday where you are.

For those who can stand poetry, I’ve put a piece I wrote called “Independence Journey” at the end here. In the meantime, I can’t help being somewhat amused at Google. Let me explain.

Google is a far-left enterprise, as many have noted (including me in these posts). The last donation tracking I saw of the organization had 98% of their political contributions going to Democrats. (When I read this, I thought for a moment of Google turning its search algorithms to the task of finding the lonely conservatives in their organization and expelling them — but then I realized that the balance were more likely Green Party and Communist Party USA donations.)

The company had a long-standing antipathy toward the US military, and their view of foreign policy is, of course, with a rather globalist slant. This mindset considers the US a “totalitarian” government (espeically under Bush, but this is still their thinking even with Obama). At the same time, they tend to look more favorably on real totalitarians. Google actually got some flack from more moderate leftists when it was revealed that they were cooperating with Communist China to put Chinese political dissidents in jail (which in China, means torture and often execution). This is the sort of thing that makes a mockery of Google’s “do no evil” credo.

The same mindset was reflected for most of a decade in Google’s holiday logos. While they were willing to show Canada’s and the UK’s celebrations of Remembrance Day, the counterpart Memorial Day in the US was unmentioned. No commemorating logo, despite Google’s being willing to celebrate almost anything with a custom Google logo. During this time, they had logos up for Andy Warhol’s birthday, for holidays in Iran and China and Russia — but nothing that celebrated the contributions of the despised US military. I wrote about this a few years ago, as did others — and Google ulatimately changed their policy, finally putting up commemorations of Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.

Today they have a new logo for US Independence Day. It’s an interesting design; I’ll come back to it in a moment. But the US Independence Day used to be visible in the local versions of Google around the world (except, of course, for the UK). Now I see that Google in Canada, Mexico, Japan and other places don’t mention it at all. (We get a number of their celebrations.) For example, here was Google Brasil’s celebration of US Independence Day in 2005:

Today, it is merely generic:

But in the US, Google’s new logo for Independence Day is clever in a way that has a buried layer. It’s here:

It looks patriotic. The song “This Land Is Your Land” is well-known to Americans, at least the beginning of it, though the colors here are not the United States’ red, white and blue. Instead, they’ve used the Democrat blue, and off-white and a reddish maroon to carry the theme. And, of course, the song has a background that I am certain made Google artists smile: It was written by Woodie Guthrie, a pro-communist union activist songwriter, as an attack and response to “God Bless America.” The sanitized subset of the lyrics that Americans sing have a good, patriotic sound — but these don’t include Guthrie’s original complaints about welfare (not enough) or this verse against private property rights:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.

This anti-private-property verse, of course, was included in the version sung for Barack Obama at his inauguration.

Yet Google is on firm ground using this song for an Independence Day logo. The subset lyrics have become part of our culture and history — and have been adapted to become “localized” into many other countries as well. If you’re reading this from the UK, from Ireland, from Israel or India of China or many other places, you have a local version of this song.

It must have been disappointing to the leftists musicians who originally popularized this song because of its anti-capitalist message, to see it become the happily adopted theme of American free-enterprise-cheering patriots. Peter and Paul (after Mary passed away) recently sued one pro-American, pro-life group to stop their playing of this song at their rallies because they took exception to what the group stood for.

It’s been adopted, parodied, cheered and jeered, and it was never intended as a song “made for you and me.” People like me, a free-enterprise fiscal conservative, were the enemy. But despite the writers and early publicizers’ intentions, the song has indeed become the symbol of a remarkable land. I can commend Google for their logo today, while being aware of their color choices and keenly aware of the inside joke behind the song’s origins. It doesn’t matter, perhaps, as their message will be accepted as pro-American despite these subtleties.

My own attempt at lyrics (not yet set to music) for Independence Day, written as I was packing to depart for a trip similar to what I just returned from:

The Independence Journey

Tomorrow I travel
Across this great land
And try to unravel
How all this began

I look to the mountains
And gaze at the sea
Are these where the fountains
Of freedom might be?

The fields full of crops
The deep sylvan glade
The bustling shops
Where the future is made

The skyscrapers soaring
The bridges, the ships
The Space Shuttles roaring
On million-mile trips

But harvest, invention,
Our tools and our crafts
Are not the intention
Contained in those drafts…

“United States” seems
Like a common phrase now
But once it was dreams
Born from deep thinking brow

As the Founders grew weary
Of rough distant rule
And taxes and tariffs
Provided the fuel…

Independence declared!
Hear the bell as it rings!
That proud history shared
Isn’t based on mere “things”

The new nation caught
And flamed bright in their hearts
And though doubters still thought
That such disparate parts

Could never be coached
Or formed into one
Still ideas, once they’re broached
Sometimes see the job done

Through blood and through sweat
And through fear, war and strife
They struggled, and yet
Freedom loved, more than life

So they crafted a code
That gave people a voice
That gave promise to all
And the world, a new choice

By the people’s consent
A Republic was born
And with blood sorely spent
Broke the shackles we’d worn

Then we prospered and grew
In this fair rugged land
And to build straight and true
All the folks lent a hand

The foundation they laid
Is a strong, steady place
And the price that they paid
Gave us strength, hope, and grace

And still our Constitution
Guides the Land of the Free
And provides the solution
That made all of this be

And at last I can see
How our strength came about
Founders fought to be free
With hearts noble and stout

And they carried the day
And they brought it to us!
And we now, in our way
Undertake this great trust

For Americans make
Our America great
So I’ll pause and I’ll take
One more moment to state:

My dear friends reading here
Don’t forget where you are
We’ll defeat hate and fear
And we yet will go far

We each have work to do
(Not just do, but know why)
Now, to each one of you
Happy Fourth of July!

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle