Friday, August 08, 2008
By Richard E. Noble
Although I am one who doesn't often find himself in agreement with Vice-president Cheney, recently he made a comment suggesting that historians and others were still debating the presidencies of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman. He also suggested that there was still considerable disagreement with regards to a positive or a negative judgment on these historical figures.
Well, I certainly agree and so it will forever be, I'm sure. But that got me to thinking about America's wars. Though I am a very anti-war person, one cannot take an interest in history without bumping into war of one type or another.
Every time that I read about America's wars, I ask myself; is this a war that I would have supported - if I were given the choice, of course.
I find that I would have supported very few of America's wars. John Wayne once suggested, rather disparagingly, at a college campus that many of the kids there probably wouldn't have even fought in the American Revolution if they had been alive during the Colonial days. Well, I am definitely one of them.
In terms of morally justifiable wars, the American Revolution seems almost to be a joke. Can you imagine rushing into battle, ready to kill or die, sporting a banner of warring outrage that had these words written on it: "Taxation without Representation is Tyranny"?
Oh brother, somebody has got to be kidding me. If this idea was all that important we would still be shooting people in the streets of America today.
Now "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" that is getting a little better. But even on this issue as I see it, I have lived all my life here in the United States and I have had the Liberty to follow the laws of the land and do as I was told, or go to jail.
Not too long ago this country could order you to go to a war and kill people whether you thought that it was right or wrong. If you said no, you went to the pokey.
As long as you do as you are told and obey the laws of the land you can live pretty much with liberty and justice for all everywhere. The whole thing seems to be dependent on what the laws are and what you are told to do and how you are treated if you challenge those demands. If you don't challenge any of the country's demands you are usually allowed to enjoy your "liberty." But then if you do, do you go to jail or are you beheaded? Do you pay a twenty-five dollar fine or is your oldest daughter raped and murdered in front of you?
Liberty is restricted everywhere. The debate seems to be with the degree of restriction.
There are teenagers here in America today who scream "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" because their parents made them go to their room - and their room looks like a Chucky Cheezes.
During the American Revolution it is estimated that two thirds of the population of the colonies were against or indifferent to the revolution. One third it is claimed - only one third of the colonists - wanted to fight over their suggested lack of representation and burdened tax situation.
Actually did you know that the tea at the Boston tea party was thrown into the harbor because even with the tax it was too cheap? The local retailers were POed because the new tea coming in on the boats was cheaper than what they already had in stock. So if this new tea was dumped onto the market they would lose bucks on all the tea that they had already purchased and had on hand or stocked in their storerooms. The British were trying to break the retailer monopoly and power by dumping a bunch of cheap tea onto the market.
So as a consequence now we hear the people screaming "Give Me Higher Prices or Give Me death"? Yeah right!
The big argument of the American Revolution was not liberty or death or even taxation and representation; it was fair trade in the global economy along with the basic assumption on the part of a majority of colonists who were descended from or themselves abused, persecuted or thrown out of Britain as basic scumbags, traitors or misfits, that the British government, the King and the nobility basically sucked.
The British demanded that all exports from the colonies go to England where the British would then add their profit and resell these products to the rest of the Global marketplace. Many of the colonial retailers and exporters were already bypassing this British demand by "smuggling" their products directly to France and elsewhere and not giving the British their cut. Good old John Hancock was an infamous Colonial smuggler.
In response pirating became a popular British tactic. If the colonists wouldn't send their exports directly to Briton then the British would stop the colonial ships on the open sea and take what they had and pay them nothing.
This pirating business became a big business and Thomas Jefferson actually got into it rather seriously during his administration.
I presume that if I was alive and living in the colonies at that time, I would have been as I am today - a poor working stiff. Why the heck would I get involved in a war between the "bosses" and who gets how much of the profit. I ain't going to get nothing but beat up, shot at, or killed. Let them fight it out. I say "give me ambiguity or give me something else" what difference does it make? Call me a Brit; call me a Yank but don't forget to call me when it is pay day.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble, a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for over thirty years. All three books are now available on Amazon.com. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.