#3. Soviet Russia Allowed Women in Combat
The 20th century is going to be remembered for some bad stuff. Somewhere up there with the really horrible, the unthinkably horrible and the so awful that there are no jokes to be made, like the mass rape of Berlin by Allied Soviet soldiers at the end of World War II.
In the end, experts estimated that between tens of thousands to millions of women and girls all over Germany and Poland were raped by occupying Russian forces. And thousands more committed suicide or were executed before Soviet authorities finally separated troops from civilians.
Fuck. Here's a bunny to lighten the mood a bit.
So, while they did as much or more to defeat the Nazis as anybody, there's a reason the Russians were the bad guys after World War II was over.
The Soviets were among the first to let women fight in combat.
Not just the occasional warrior lady with good fighting chops either. Entire female battalions were recruited and allowed to enter combat during World War II. In fact, as many as 800,000 women served in the Red Army's combat forces.
Here we see a proud Russian woman and her noble steed.
Out of these 800,000 lady fighters, 200,000 received commendations, and 89 were named Heroes of the Soviet Union, the USSR's highest honor. Women were trained as snipers, tank operators and pilots, and one whole unspeakably hot regiment known as the Night Witches dropped 3,000-tons of bombs on their enemies.
These women have bigger balls than you ever will.
So at the same time that the Soviet Army was rivaling every evil regime ever in woman-hating horibbleness, they were also bestowing unprecedented rights to their own women.
To compare, American women didn't get to go into combat until 2001, and even now a lot of people are still pretty pissy about it.
#2. The World's First Evil Empire Was Also the First Melting Pot
Of all the evil empires on this list, the Akkadian Empire is probably the one you're least likely to have heard about, since they haven't turned up as the bad guys in any historical blockbusters.
But damn, they should. Way back in the 26th century BC, people were just getting the hang of living in cities. Akkad was one of the many city-states in what is now Iraq, and all was well until this guy named Sargon came to power and decided to invent the concept of expansion by invasion. Seriously, the guy invented the concept of an evil empire. He used the world's first standing army to implement his new invention by taking over most of the Fertile Crescent, as brutally as possible.
So every single subjugated nation in history can lift their crushed and conquered voices and sarcastically thank this guy:
And thank his fusilli beard while they're at it.
The Akkadians also practically invented cultural sensitivity.
It wasn't like everyone was only three generations from Noah at this point. Racial, tribal and ethnic conflicts separated the people of the Middle East back then just as they do now.
So in order for Sargon to control the world's first centrally governed empire, he had to dispatch his government officials all over the damn place to learn about other cultures and shit. And he governed each region according to what he learned. Some places got a heavy hand, others didn't.
"Keepeth thy pimp hand strong." - Sargon
Even more surprising is that he often assimilated local rulers into the government itself, and as a result, Sargon gets the gold star for inventing the world's first multiethnic government. And in the Middle East, no less.
There's a first and a last time for everything, we guess.
#1. The Bad Guys From 300 Helped Invent Modern Government
Damn, was there anybody worse than the Achaemenid Empire (aka, Persia in 300)? What with their savage king Xerxes going around invading the civilized world while riding on a huge golden throne carried by slaves?
"To Burger King. I need a Whopper!"
And all of their, uh, monsters...
OK, so maybe 300 isn't the most accurate source for historical information. Still, the Achaemenid Empire was the largest empire the world had ever seen (in fact, it was quite a bit larger than even the Roman Empire would be). So that means a huge chunk of the world was living under brutal, unrelenting horror, right? Under the thumb of huge, egomaniacal jackasses wearing gold chains?
First of all, the Persians got where they were by being organized in a way that all of the empires since would try to copy, from a state-of-the art system of roads to a postal service. But that stuff is all par for the course, right? After all, if the Empire in Star Wars had a postal system, you can bet that shit got delivered on time.
Though, Luke's hut had no mailbox.
But then came Darius the Great (that is, the father of 300's Xerxes) who insisted that his gigantic government not simply consist of huge men in loincloths smacking slaves with clubs across three continents. He established a wave of government reforms to combat corruption on a scale that half of the governments today don't bother with. With all the various regions of the empire under the control of local governors, Darius started a system of royal inspectors/hall-monitors so that no one guy could let his own douchebaggery run wild.
See, honesty was kind of a big thing with the Persians. They threw around the word "truth" the way Americans talk about "freedom" (and in fact lying could get you the death penalty in some cases). Their religion demanded it. Yes, that included 300's walking golden dildo, Xerxes.
That might be why the people conquered by the Persians seemed to do pretty well. In fact, they were so progressive we question their label as an "evil" empire at all, and wonder if that dude Leonidas kicked down the well wasn't carrying a fruit basket (note: He wasn't).
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