Once upon a time, May Day was a celebration of the beginning of summer. With flower crowns and maypole dancing, families celebrated the new season and new life.
That all changed in the 1880s when socialists and communists designated May 1 as “International Worker’s Day”. Far from a celebration of life and opportunity, May Day came to be marked by violence and riots. During the infamous 1886 demonstration at Haymarket Square in Chicago, a bomb exploded in the crowd and police fired their weapons. Both demonstrators and policemen were killed.
Political May Day demonstrations continue to this day. Sometimes they turn violent as they did last year in Seattle when demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police. Marches are taking place in several cities around the world to protest a broad swath of grievances. In the U.S. the demonstrators are mostly protesting the government’s enforcement of immigration laws and other Trump Administration policies.
All of this mayhem (pun intended) leads us to ask, why continue to celebrate May Day? After all, the eight hour work day sought by the Haymarket protesters is law — as are many other worker protections. The fight has been won.
On top of that, May Day’s association with communism tarnishes any value the day might have for rallying for other causes. After all, communism took the lives a 100 million people and thrust others into lives of grim misery. Meanwhile, socialist countries have slower economies and higher unemployment than those with freer markets.
Communism rightfully lies on the ash heap of history, and a day to rekindle communisms bloody past makes as much sense as a day to commemorate the Cleveland Browns going 1-15 during the 2016 NFL season.
Finally, who needs a May Day when the average weekend will do? It’s enough to worry about trying to get from point A to point B on a Saturday with a march for something blocking roads.
Hopefully this year’s May Day rallies will be violence-free and protesters will clean up their trash. Nothing mars a lovely spring day more than an angry mob, rioters, and lingering garbage.
Rather than embracing a warped nostalgia for oppressive politics, Americans should consider dropping May Day altogether. Or, at the very least, avoid the protests to get outside, enjoy some sunshine, and celebrate May Day as it was meant to be.
What are your thoughts?
Is May Day about better working conditions, or the start of summer? And is Communism worth celebrating, or should we celebrate freedom and opportunity instead?
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