Never mind the chill and dreary weather, February is the leading month for American celebrations. The first of the month is National Freedom Day, marking Abraham Lincoln’s signing of a resolution that proposed the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery. This fits nicely with celebrations of Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th, which is an official holiday in Illinois and a number of other states.
Republicans usually hold their “Lincoln Day Dinners” in February, honoring him not only as the man who held the union together and emancipated the slaves, but also as the first GOP president. The Franklin County Republicans held their dinner on the Feb. 8 in Strong, where the Maine Republican Party was born, and a contender with Ripon, Wis., for the honor of being the founding site of the national party. This is traditionally a major fundraising event.
The Democrats often hold their major fundraising event, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, in February as well, even though Thomas Jefferson was born on April 2 and Andrew Jackson was born on March 15. The two slaveowners (Jefferson owned 175, Jackson 44) are honored as founders of the Democratic Party as well as outstanding presidents. Last year, Maine’s Democrats honored them in November.
The ultra-libertarian wing of the Republican Party is not entirely comfortable with honoring a president who vindicated the authority of the federal government. The Republican wing of the Libertarian Party feels the same. On the other hand, few Democrats seem disturbed by their founders’ explicit fear of an ever-expanding government.
The third Monday of February is legally designated “Washington’s Birthday” by the national government, although it is commonly called “Presidents Day” to honor all our presidents. State and local governments and private businesses may use other names.
Our first president actually was born on Feb. 22, but the official day of observation was changed in 1971. This year, it falls on Monday, Feb. 17, giving us the choice of shopping or celebrating. Since all presidents may be honored on that date, and since George Washington feared the formation of political parties (which he called “factions,” like the Latin equivalent) and served before the parties were formed, this holiday is comfortably bipartisan.
In some states, Republican clubs hold a Reagan-Lincoln Day Dinner, since our 40th president was born on Feb. 6. Gov. Paul LePage has proclaimed Ronald Reagan Day in Maine on that date. This will distress some of our more partisan Democrats, and make hard-core leftists froth at the mouth. But most Americans now seem to remember the man fondly, so it’s not a purely partisan proclamation. Conservatives are liking Reagan more than ever as they compare him to Barack Obama, while some liberals, now that Reagan is safely dead and no threat, honor him as a true pragmatic conservative, in contrast to the ultra-ultra-ultra-radical right tea party fanatics. Some conservatives suspect rhetorical deceit. I do.
I haven’t actually discussed the question with our governor, but I feel confident that LePage will not follow the U.N. General Assembly in proclaiming Feb. 20 World Social Justice Day. Readers interested in celebrating WSJ-Day should check the website of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.
There they will find a 157-page report, with a glossary of 29 acronyms, titled “Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations.”
The term social justice is mentioned more than 600 times without a clear definition anywhere. In its broadest usage, it appears to resemble terms like “sustainability,” i.e. terms that make people feel good when they repeat them, and better if they repeat them a lot. In its narrowest meaning, social justice seems to add up to demand that Americans send more money to the penurious Sultanate of Dismailia, Lower Damdrearyland, Inner Ickystan, etc., so that their ruling kleptocrats can help keep the Swiss bankers out of the poor house.
Some people suspect that “social justice” is simply a circumlocution for “Socialism.” American progressives are fond of the term but unclear about their meaning. The DESA report isn’t much use in solving the puzzle. Anyone who thinks they can do a better job of interpretation is welcome to check it out at the address provided above.
The Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day celebration of romantic love may seem less controversial, but in 2012 the Saudi Arabian religious police arrested more than 140 Muslims for celebrating the holiday, and confiscated all red roses from flower shop.
John Frary of Farmington is a former congressional candidate and retired history professor, a board member of Maine Taxpayers United and publisher of www.fraryhomecompanion.com. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org