4 U.S. Historical Opinions (The British Say Are B.S.)
Hi. I'm Adam Wears, a British person, and I'm here to try and defend my beloved country against accusations that we're nothing more than a nation of evil, mustache-twirling, power-obsessed psychopaths in well-tailored suits. If you'll allow me, I'd like to set a few things straight, and maybe afterwards we could get together and talk about downgrading our reputation from "evil geniuses" to "farcical semi-lunatics." How does that sound to you? Good? Goooood.
We Have Nothing To Do With The Whole "Different Spellings" Thing
Every writer has a ritual to start their day, whether it's drinking a special coffee, listening to a certain song, or -- for me, at least -- spending five minutes resetting the spellchecker from Actual English to U.S. English. And considering Cracked keeps ignoring the pleas from Mark Hill and I to be able to spell words as the Queen intended, you couldn't give less of a damn either. As far as you're concerned, our languages differ because we're a country of hoity-toity arseholes who daren't besmirch our ink quills with any word that wasn't ordained by Henry VIII or Shakespeare.
In actual fact, we had nothing to do with this. It's all on you. After you guys split from us and shacked up with the pool boy known as "freedom," Noah Webster -- of Merriam-Webster fame -- decided that your language needed to reflect your newfound independence. Through his three-part series -- The First Part of the Grammatical Institute Of The English Language, The American Spelling Book, and The Elementary Spelling Book, all of which become de rigeur in schools -- he redefined American English into the form that you know and I marginally endure. If the English language is a beautifully crafted orchestral piece, Webster's American English is a mixtape consisting solely of "Independent Women" by Destiny's Child and TLC's "No Scrubs."
This is also a metaphor for something.
As a starting point for Extreme Makeover: Linguistic Edition, Webster sought to redefine the spellings of words according to how they sounded when said aloud. Words like "theatre" and "centre" became "theater" and "center," whilst superfluous letters were excised from words like "plough" ("plow"), "axe" ("ax"), and "catalogue" ("catalog"). The letter "u," meanwhile, was drop-kicked into an open grave and buried alive. It's also really hard not to take this thing personally when you learn that Webster refused to redefine the spelling of "glamour" because it was a Scottish word, not an English one, the bloody ingrate.
Webster's approach did have some drawbacks -- namely, that some words look fucking ridiculous when spelled as they're spoken. The word "tongue" nearly became "tung," and it was only the collective insistence of, like, everyone that "soup" and "leopard" now aren't spelled "soop" and "leperd." On the plus side, that would have been more characters on Twitter, and besides that, who the hell spells anything correctly these days anyway?
The War Of 1812 Was An Easily Avoidable Series Of Misunderstandings
It's recently come to my attention from my American friends that the War of 1812 isn't studied nearly as extensively in the States as it is in England. If those friends can be trusted at their word, Americans get a crash course in the subject over a few days, answer a couple of questions about it on a test, and then forget it ever existed. That isn't the case over here, so let me explain ...
If the War of Independence was a bad breakup, the War of 1812 is that really bad time in our lives when we keyed your car, took a dump on your doorstep, and destroyed your mailbox, to which you responded by filing a restraining order. It was Revolutionary War 2.0, a new call to arms against our attempts to undermine your authority and maybe, finally, get us to stop creeping on you. In actuality, things are a lot more complicated than that.
One of the major factors in declaring war against us was that we were hijacking the merchant vessels that you were sending to France, and if that wasn't enough, also forcing your sailors to join the Royal Navy. That'd be a pretty good reason to be pissed ... if we weren't at war with France at the time. As kicking Napoleon's average-sized ass was taking its sweet time, we'd enacted a naval blockade to prevent anyone from trading with them and thus resupplying them with money and goods. Those merchant vessels were deliberately breaching the blockade, even though we'd politely asked you to stop funding the dicks who kept periodically trying to invade us.
Like pirates, except with way less intimidating accents.
As for the sailors, the charge that we kept stealing them might have held a little more weight if an estimated half of those sailors weren't actually deserters from the Royal Navy (something that American politicians at the time quietly conceded). As far as we were concerned, we were just taking our men back ... to hang them, sure, but it's the principle that counts, right?
Meanwhile, the British had also made their presence known in the Northwest by supporting Native American resistance groups opposed to westward expansion, particularly Tecumseh's Confederacy. Although some Native groups sided with the U.S. in the following conflict, the vast majority sided with the British, in the hope that a British victory would bring an end to expansion and, as was touted at the time, bring about the creation of an Indian state covering Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.
Lastly, Canada. Thomas Jefferson fucking hated the fact that there was still a British presence in North America. In his mind, however, that was nothing that a quick invasion couldn't solve. In a letter that he sent prior to the outbreak of war, Jefferson described Canadapocalypse '12 as representing nothing more than an idle stroll north -- a smattering of bravado made all the more hilarious by the fact that the drunken ragtag militia he originally sent to subjugate an entire country got their asses handed to them politely at the border.
Canada even has a monument to it. That's you on the ground.
In hindsight, it's probably fairer to say that this was nothing more than a big misunderstanding. Yeah, you guys were being dicks, sure. But -- and historians agree with this conclusion -- it didn't help that our long and tedious war against Napoleon had hardened us into one of those "You're either with us or you're against us" countries (you know the type). If we'd all just sat down and talked, this whole thing could have been avoided. Hell, most of the issues that precipitated it came to a natural conclusion anyway. And it's telling that the only lasting consequences were peace between our two nations and Canada coming out of it with some badass war stories and a gnarly couple of scars.
We Weren't Being Cowardly By Appeasing Hitler; We Thought He Was Sane
When Britain eventually collapses (current estimated date: March 2019) and every single acre of land is sold to the Chinese, I like to think that we'll be treated to a pre-season-finale-esque montage of our best and worst moments. I don't know what the former will be (although I have some ideas), but I'm expecting a long discussion about the clusterfuck known as "appeasement" -- wherein Neville Chamberlain rolled over and gave into every single prewar demand Hitler made, in the vain hope of avoiding war at any cost.
However, we're looking at the situation with hindsight, when you have to look at it from the perspective of a country that a) only just managed to persuade people to stop having terror nightmares about the trenches and b) thought Hitler was sane.
Caring boyfriend, dog-lover, all-around decent chap.
One particularly controversial method used to appease the Fuhrer was straight-up giving him part of another country ... without asking. When the Sudetenland -- a border region of Czechoslovakia -- demanded to be unified with Nazi Germany on account of its heavily German population, Hitler saw an opportunity to acquire territory, and demanded the region on pain of war. Britain and France responded by handing over the Sudetenland without asking the Czechs. Still, war was averted and Chamberlain arrived home triumphantly clutching a piece of a paper which said that everything was hunky-dory.
There were several other factors in play. For instance, our armed forces weren't prepared to fight another war, and Chamberlain was more focused on getting Hitler's support in anticipation of a dust-up with Russia. But chiefly, the fatal flaw of appeasement is that it only works if your opponent is sane and not, say, a heavily armed genocidal baby.
Taxation Without Representation Was A Thing Here As Well
Of all the bullshit laws and regulations that the British tried to push onto the American colonies in the years preceding their revolution, the idea of taxation without representation is the most baffling of all. Charging people to live in a democracy and simultaneously denying them a right to participate? It was pretty much guaranteed to end in failure.
It was still a dick move to destroy that tea, though.
One fact that often gets overlooked in discussions about how indifferent and uncaring the British were about the plight of the colonists, however, is that taxation without representation wasn't just a colonial thing -- it was also how Parliament worked. Unlike today, when anyone with the requisite number of personality disorders can become a politician, the British Parliament of ye olden days was only open to rich landowners and members of the landed gentry. As the money men, they were considered the real power behind the country, and so were afforded the right to govern it. This is a leadership style known as "oligarchy."
You'll become very familiar with it over the next couple of years.
As for the people living in the towns and cities, meanwhile, they got little-to-no representation in the halls of power. Like the colonists, they were taxed and told to GTBHA (Get The Bloody Hell Away) when the time came to running things. In our eyes, you were only rehashing complaints about an unrepresentative system that we'd already expressed and, after being ignored, come to terms with. But in a twist that I'm taking great pains not to compare to Batman v. Superman, it turned out that the rich guy was fucking us both in the same way. We just didn't know it.
So I hope this sets some things straight, because I think it's high time we put these things behind us and heal these wounds so that we can finally become the soul-bonded allies we were always meant to be.
Edit: I just found out that Americans already think we're allies. Please ignore the previous sentence.
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