We Americans have been given a bad rap lately because after a crisis, we placed our trust in the untrustworthy. But like all the other harrowing moments and / or lapses in our history, this too shall pass. Until then, here are ten historical reminders we can use as sign posts on our way back home. I think we'll find out that it's not that far of a walk.
1. The Boston Tea Party
Not everybody likes tea. And alot of people who don't like it are usually afraid to say it because it might make them look less civilized. But lets be honest with ourselves, it's grass soaked hot water that some explorer presented to some monarch who then in turn forced it down the population's throats. When our forefathers were told that not only was this hoity toity crap going to be forced down their throats as well, but they would also have to pay an extra tax for it; they committed an act of dissent that even Muhatma Ghandi used as inspiration. They dressed up as the least "civilized" people they knew and chucked it off the ships. They didn't do this to frame the Indians, they did it as a statement saying, "We're ALL 'savages' over here, so don't be sending us any more herbs unless they're for smokin'!" For a fictional account of what transpired the next day, check this out.
2. The Declaration of Independence
Penned mostly in a bar on 100% hemp paper, is the best "Dear John" letter given to a monarch since the Magna Carta. Each man who put his signature on this document knew he was potentially signing his own death warrant. Treason wasn't a crime the crown took lightly, and George III was a crazy bastard. Yet living on this side of the ocean, far away from the stink of monarchy and with very little supervision, we concocted a new idea. How about we create a country where people are subject to themselves and not some inbred bafoon with a shiny hat? What if we further that thought and assume that the human being is given certain rights that can't be taken away just because one person is a butthole descended from a long line of buttholes? What would happen if we let the people govern themselves? Well this is what happens....read on!!
3. Our Revolution and That Badass Snake Flag
In the late 1700's, Great Britain was one of the largest superpowers the world had ever seen up to that point. The battle hardened army of King George III had seen action all over the planet and was reputed to be invincible. And the Blackwa....I mean Hessian mercenaries that came with them were known for their cruelty and barbarism. Yet with all this sophistication and reputation, they still insisted on fighting an army of farmers and hunters in the forest while wearing bright red uniforms. They cried "no fair" when our marksmen picked off their officers from the trees, thereby giving birth to the art of sniping. The inevitable victory against these monarch humpers didn't come easily, and we got help from the French in the end to hold them still while we whaled on them. We've since paid that debt back two fold (see # 8). And the whole time, we were using this badass snake flag to show our intent, "step on us, and your ass is bit!"
4. The Barbary Pirate Campaign
Since the early middle ages, the Barbary Pirates were a bane to all who sailed into the Mediterranean. If not payed tribute, they would capture your ship, behead or torture to death it's commander and officers in front their crew, and enslave the rest. So all counties who engaged in trade in the Mediterranean usually complied with the tribute thing and chalked it up to the price of doing business. Then we came along. After Jefferson was elected President, he ceased our share of the tribute and deferred protests and questions of his new policy to "deez nuts" when approached by the envoy from Tripoli. The resulting 4 year war scored as follows: The United States Navy and Marine Corps: 3 killed / 3 wounded / 2 Ships Lost. Barbary Pirates: 800 Dead /1200 Wounded / 4 Metric Assloads of Ships Lost. To this day, descendants of the Barbary Pirates occasionally feel sharp stings to their backsides randomly and seemingly without cause. So this was the first time in our history, we said "you're welcome" to the rest of the world and went about our merry way. It wouldn't be the last....
5. The Old West
Freedom rules. But much like donuts, too much of a good thing can often bloat you and cloud your judgment. This is how it was during our westward expansion. Lack of any honest authority figures coupled with a largely uneducated population made for some pretty interesting scenarios. For example, in a free society, self expression is a right we all have that cannot be infringed upon. So then does it follow, that if my buddy cheats me at poker and I shoot him point blank in the face, I am protected by my rights to express my disdain for dishonorable gamesmanship? After all, liberty was a new concept. At less than 100 years into it, the free world as we know it was going through it's Cambrian Era, and the question of whether it's okay to shoot your friend in the face out of self expression came up quite a bit. A few thousand public hangings later, the general population got this new freedom thing sorted out. This was a time when Good, Evil, and Neutral all made appearances and asked questions that we are still answering today. A definite B.M.F. Moment in our history.
6. Nikola Tesla's Mad Genius
During a time when everything that we consider to be modern was being invented, this guy was getting his ideas stolen by the grumpy old man he worked for. Even though he was an ethnic Serb born in Croatia, he considered himself a patriotic American. When he was finally unleashed from Edison and given the ability to fly on his own, he came up with the technology that eventually led to the internet, cell phones, neon signs, radio, television, electric cars, robotics, better x rays, and of course particle beams. There are a couple of reasons he became just a footnote in your high school history class. The first one is he devised a way for everyone on the planet to have free electricity and information by using specially designed transmitter arrays that would be non polluting and a cinch to maintain. The second is that he actually DID invent a freaking death ray that scared the hell out of everyone so much, that they ridiculed him into obscurity. Today he the only single person on this list of B.M.F. Moments in American history, and all American geeks today can trace their social lineage directly to Nick. Thanks, buddy!
7. The Goddamn Airplane
Yeah, people had hot air balloons. But the Wright brothers saw that as human float, not human flight and decided to give us what we really wanted. So it came to pass that a couple of bicycle geeks with alot of time and not yet broken bones on their hands eventually gave rise to the airplane. Even though there were many attempts that would clearly qualify today as an extra season of Jackass, the crazy bastards did it. "Hi, I'm Orville Wright, and this is the aero-plane!" was often announced to reporters at the sites just before test flights. This was further reinforced by his brother Wilbur, who would add "Yeah dude!" with both thumbs extended. After each horrific crash, they would go over the physics and math in the back of the ambulance before shock, hemorrhaging, and / or blood loss made Orville have to take a break for a while. Eventually though, their efforts paid off and our country became the first culture to embrace the Air Show.
8. Kicking Germany's Ass and Saving France's not Once, but Twice in 25 Years
While compiling this list, I wanted to shy away from the war aspect of our history. Contrary to how it may look sometimes, Americans are actually pretty peaceful people. In fact we had no desire to enter into either of two wars that forced us to kick Germany's ass and save France's (twice), but we got forced into them by military sucker punches. And as peaceful as we are at heart, if you really make the effort piss us off, we usually win whatever war we are in with you. It was already starting to get personal when Hitler decided to attack our mother country, the since forgiven and still beloved Great Britain. And if you know anything about American boys, you know not to mess with our momma. Military strategists all say that it's almost impossible to win a two front war. Yet we had the Empire of Japan, who hadn't been defeated in a war....ever, on one side. And on the other side we had the Nazi war machine who had already conquered most of Europe. We and our honorable British allies charged into this two front war and the ass kicking we laid out was so catastrophic that we still see the results today. The Nazi war machine is now peaceful Germany once again complete with pretentious techno clubs and scat porn. And the once undefeated Empire of the Sun, birthplace of the deadly samurai, is now the land of Hello Kitty, cosplay, and vending machines with girls' dookie drawers.
9. Rock and Roll
It sprouted up all over our country in different places almost all at once. It was called by some the bastard child of the Blues and Gospel, but if you lived in Texas it was Blues and Country, in Kentucky it was Bluegrass and Gospel. Doesn't matter. As much as we may take it for granted now, this was a turning point for all humanity in that music once again became a more visceral experience. Not since people still lived in tribes had music carried so much feeling and sensual expression. Sure Mozart's music was pretty, Beethoven is great too, and that Big Band stuff that was popular right before Rock was born wasn't bad. But once this new music hit the airwaves, people started to go nuts. The conservative types at the time thought it was everything from a passing fad to literally direct communication from Beelzebub himself, and tried their damndest to have it banned. Fifty years later, it's still the music of free hearted people all over the world, born from a free country by a free people.
10. The Effing Moon
It wasn't a hoax, it wasn't faked, anybody with a good enough telescope and laser can silence the skeptics. One morning in Washington, a possibly still tanked from the night before John F. Kennedy strutted into Congress and proclaimed "We're going to put someone on the moon, and we are going to do it in 10 years." And it was done. After the initial shock of "holy crap there's a guy on the moon" wore off, we discovered that there wasn't actually much to do up there. That is other than making three story shadow puppets, chipping golf balls six miles, and calling the Russian president every night to ask if we were blocking his light. Now at the end of the day the only thing that could conceivably be higher than our flag would be Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong together at an Amsterdam coffee shop.
So there you have it, the Top 10 Most B.M.F. Moments in American History.
Written by a liberal....
Merlyn Trey Hunter