If history teaches us anything, it's that it's way harder to pick out the good guys from the bad guys than the movies would lead us to believe.
In fact, some of history's most face-blastingly savage regimes came up with some shockingly progressive innovations in health, human rights and, well, everything else.
6The Nazis Get the Anti-Tobacco Ball Rolling
We put this on the list at great risk to our future political careers. You really can't say anything good about the Nazis without it getting taken out of context in a campaign ad, and obviously pointing out that, say, Hitler's soldiers were well-groomed doesn't excuse their many, many, many atrocities.
So nothing we're about to say about the Nazis makes us feel even the slightest bit bad about slaughtering them in one video game after another.
Your dapper Mechsuit won't save you this time, Hitler.
They were the first to point out that, hey, tobacco kills people.
Although Adolf Hitler had a 25-cigarettes-a-day habit early in life, he eventually came to find the addiction disgusting. Especially once German scientists discovered the link between tobacco and lung cancer, at which point the Fuhrer initiated the first anti-smoking campaign in modern history, and the most successful one throughout WWII.
And yeah, of course the motivation for the campaign was bizarrely linked to racial purity, because they were, after all, the Nazis. But what really mattered was that they were the first to link smoking during pregnancy with stillbirths and miscarriages, and went so far as to ban tobacco ration cards for pregnant women and Nazi ladies under the age of 25, just in case they got knocked up with Aryan spawn.
The Nazis were also the ones who coined the phrase "passive smoking" and outlawed smoking in Nazi offices, schools, buses and trains. And they actually restricted tobacco advertisements in 1941, almost 30 whole years before America bothered to do the same.
Score one for the Nazis.
5The Aztecs: Eaters and Educators of Children
Before Cortes and his poxified Spanish troops infested the Americas, the Aztecs were the reigning lords of central Mexico. With an empire spanning the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, and a capital city supporting at least 200,000 inhabitants, no can argue that the Aztecs didn't have their business together.
Unfortunately, a big part of their "business" involved their religion, which had a few snags in it for junior Aztecs. Snags like worshiping gods who drank baby blood like water, and required ritualistic child sacrifices for every little heavenly favor, like rain, successful harvests or their continuing existence. So, yeah, the Aztecs rolled like that.
The Aztecs' non-sacrificed kids were beneficiaries of the world's first mandatory education.
The same guys who ate their babies in exchange for rain also went to great lengths to educate the undigested kids. And unlike most civilizations of the time, they weren't just interested in smartening up the rich boys. In fact, the Aztecs were arguably the first in the world to require all of their living children to go to school.
Aztec High graduation ceremony, Class of 1440 . GOOOOO JAGUARS!
Aztec kids were homeschooled until their teens under the close supervision of their local Principal Skinner. While at home they were required to memorize nuggets of Aztec wisdom, presumably little proverbs that didn't apologize for the slaying of childhood playmates. From there, they could either attend a school to study the liberal arts and agriculture, or another to study government, medicine and the fine arts.
Also, just to be on the safe side, they were taught how to kill people. And probably how to eat their still beating hearts.