As Americans, we are often quite nostalgic about our countries origins. We look back on our forefathers with well deserved respect and admiration. One of my personal favorite ways is on July 4th, when I light up a cigar while I eat a steak and drink more beer than I should. Which is all wonderful, but we all know what the best part of Independence Day is – blowing stuff up.
Many people criticize this seemingly destructive tradition. They say it's immature, dangerous, or blew their kid's hand off. Well, it isn't, it isn't, and it probably did, but he was an idiot anyway. The truth is, blowing stuff up is the greatest honor we give our country. Because that's how we define ourselves. Just like that guy who changes his hair whenever he's with a new girl (lookin' at you, Brad Pitt), America changes it's priorities and self-image based on who it's killing.
If you haven't figured it out yet, the answer to the title is YES.
The Revolutionary War
This is a good one to start on, because we were all drunkenly misinforming people about it yesterday. Also, chronological order is always a safe bet. To set the stage, let's look at America before we declared independence. We were a ragtag group of colonies, each looking out for themselves, until a common goal unified us. Dramatic, right? It's like straight out of the movies.
While that is definitely the truth, when you look at it closely, you notice the first signs of America's obsessive desire to become the polar opposite of their enemies, in this case the dastardly British Empire. We fought for freedom, justice, and a higher philosophical ideal. But many of our choices were purely contrarian. Oh, they have a monarchy? Well, we'll have a democracy! They like tea? We'll throw tea in the river! They fight in organized formations with respect to the opposing army's chain of command and the rules of engagement? Let's shoot their officers in the face and watch them run away!
Okay, so a lot of those qualities led to great things. But there's no doubt that we did it at least partially to throw it in their stupid British faces. And on that note, can I mention the French? It's off topic I know, but we are really awful to the French. Does nobody else remember General Lafayette basically winning the American Revolution for us? It's kinda like Tupac dissing Suge Knight. Doesn't sound like such a great idea anymore, does it?
The Wars Against Germany and Their Friends (WWI & WWII)
Yes, this is a Dr. Seuss drawing. The Butter Battle Book was him repenting.
I can pretty much lump these two together for two reasons. First, other than the one survivor of the first world war and me, nobody remembers anything about it but shell shock, mustard gas and Franz Ferdinand. The second is that they were relatively similar, if you replace the Japanese with the Ottoman Empire, replace the Italians with the Austro-Hungarians, and replace the noble fight against fascism and genocide with a particularly feisty family squabble.
But in both World Wars, America had the same role. Now that we were buddy buddy with the British again, we wanted to show them how far we'd come on our own… well, after the French saved us. We also had this awesome new military industrial complex, which you might have seen recently in the form of half your tax dollars. So we decided to show it off.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about. So let's talk about the Germans. The first adjective that pops into everyone's head when they think about Germans is efficient. I was going to say pragmatic, but not everyone knows that word. They are a very cerebral group of people, focused on logic and science to solve problems. And, during both these wars, we had a very similar approach. But that was hardly the face we put forward.
When you look back at American pro-war propaganda during either of these wars, the focus is clear: Morality and Heart. Despite the fact that we were using brilliant weapons designed by brilliant engineers, we were far more focused on the fact that we were on the 'correct' side of the war, and that we were braver and had more moxie than the other guys.
At a time where Moxie was still a beverage.
And the Nazis, specifically, had that too. But their 'correct' side was solving an issue with the genetic code in a logical, albeit appalling and reprehensible, way. "These people are not as good as us," said Hitler, "so let's kill them all in the quickest and most discreet way possible." FDR's response? "Let's wait a few years until they take France so we can finally return the favor. Then we can get all hot and bothered about the horrible atrocities." That's pretty much the least German thing we could have possibly done.
Tune in Thursday for the exciting conclusion! Will it be…
The Communist Mani-Pedi
Stuck In The Middle East With You