The city of Orlando incensed conservatives after it released a statement questioning whether or not it was appropriate to celebrate the Fourth of July at a time when so much “division, hate and unrest” permeates American society.
The statement was made in a 1 July email newsletter promoting the city’s annual “Fireworks at the Fountain” event, according to NBC News.
“A lot of people probably don’t want to celebrate our nation right now, and we can’t blame them. When there is so much division, hate and unrest, why on earth would you want to have a party celebrating any of it?” the statement said.
The email infuriated some local residents and conservative politicians. A local police union also complained about the “disrespectful” and “inflammatory” message.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, took to Twitter to complain that the city did not parrot patriotic platitudes.
“Yikes. City of Orlando, is this your official position on our country and on the 4th of July?” she asked, alongside a screenshot of the city’s statement.
The conservative backlash against the city exercising its freedom of speech prompted officials to issue an apology on social media.
“The City of Orlando sincerely regrets the negative impact our words have had on some in our community,” the statement said. “We understand these words offended some of our residents, which was not our intent. We value the freedoms we have in this country and are thankful to the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for those. We take pride in celebrating the 4th of July to express our gratitude to those men and women and honor the country we live in.”
The city’s message was celebrated by some supporters, many citing the recent overturning of Roe v Wade as a reason for mourning during a time traditionally set aside to celebrate the nation’s independence.
“You said what a lot of us are thinking and expressing to those around us,” a Facebook user said on the city’s apology post. “Not only should you not apologize, you should be applauded for raising what so many of us are feeling.”
Despite conservative protests, polls suggest the city is correct in its assessment of the general mood in the US. A Fox News poll released last week found that only 39 per cent of Americans are “proud” of the US, down 12 points from June 2017.
The city’s criticism was tragically reflected on the Fourth of July when a mass shooter killed at least five people and injured another 19 in a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.