Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Remember the Adage


Remember the adage: Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.  You would think in a world of over-information everyone would know history, but given that one could take much of the news of the day from seemingly any period of history, change the names and places, and it would read like today's front page, obviously history has been lost in the sands of time and the winds of ignorance.
Both justifications and objections given to the current conflicts are not unique to the current situation or are they new.  About the only difference seems to be the changing of the sides; that is, in one period it is the Democrats defending and the Republicans denying and in another just vice-versa.
You and I were raised and trained (it is my opinion that the schools do not teach; they train) the lessons were all about the glories and righteousness of America. In every matter, our heroes were not only heroic, but also wise and never wrong.  We were taught that George Washington chopped down that cherry tree and never lied, and that he tossed a silver dollar across the Potomac as if it were documented fact.  In fact, we speak of the Colonists who led and those who supported and fought the "War of Independence" as Patriots, just as we speak of the Confederacy as rebels during the "War between the States."
But the truth is that the colonists were the rebels, isn't it?  The Colonists were British subjects who declared a civil war against their government.  The Revolutionary War was fought over economics.  If King George III had ceded to the demands of the colonial merchants and rescinded a number of tariffs and taxes perhaps we would be putting Queen Elizabeth II on our stamps today.
Our leaders then were not spotless saints.  Washington had a large ego and was a snob.  Franklin was such a reprobate as a young man he admitted he was fortunate he never caught a venereal disease, and John Hancock, famous for his large signature on the declaration of Independence was a smuggler and privateer (a kind of government licensed pirate).
Now to move a century, do you "Remember the Maine".  The Maine was the justification to have the Spanish-American War, or at least the justification to get the American public behind the idea.  The Maine was a "goodwill ship" sent to Havana during the Cuban revolution against Spanish rule. It was sunk in the harbor there in February 1898 with a loss of 260 men. The charge was made that the Spaniards had sunk it and the rallying cry of "Remember the Maine" was sounded across our nation. In reality the Maine was sunk when it struck a submarine mine there to protect against the Spanish.
Why was the Maine so important?  Because there was pressure for the United States to protect its corporate interests in Cuba, where we were heavily invested in $50 million of Cuban property engaged in the tobacco, sugar and iron industries.
The major newspapers of the day, those of the two giant publishers, Hurst and Pulitzer (yes, that Pulitzer, for which one of the great prizes of Journalism is named) bombarded their pages with overblown accounts and outright fabrications about Spanish atrocities trying to push the US to war.  There was just one catch. What justification did the U.S. have for intervening in the affairs between Spain and it's colony of Cuba?  The Maine gave us the excuse.  One of our vessels was attacked and our citizens killed.  So we entered the war.

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