15 Petty Patriotic Fibs That Tend to Fly Under the Radar
America, fuck yeah! It’s not just a song, it’s a way of life — the USA is a coast-to-coast celebration of itself. Like, in most other countries flying a flag outside your house, singing the national anthem before a sports game between two teams from the same country or getting children to recite an oath of compliance every morning would seem odd, but America is different: It’s excited to be America, god damn it.
Naturally, this excitement sometimes gets in the way of 100 percent accuracy. There’s nothing wrong with that — myths are important, heroes are important and sometimes ideas are better communicated with a little bit of the edges sanded off. But, maybe, sometimes, it’s worth being reminded that some of the things held unquestioningly as true aren’t totally accurate — the more you question, the more you get. And there’s nothing more American than getting stuff!
George Washington Was the First President
Was he? WAS HE? While Washington was the first President of the United States, he was preceded by a whopping 17 presidents of the Continental Congresses and Confederation Congress (several were repeated), including John Hancock.
Here Comes a Bald Eagle: SKREEEEE!
In real life, the noise of a bald eagle isn’t particularly badass. It’s kind of… seagull-like? It’s not unpleasant, it’s just not as patriotism-stirringly ass-kicking a noise as it could be.
George Washington Could Not Tell a Lie
Yeah, he could. The story about the cherry tree was the creation of Mason Locke Weems, a biographer keen to cash in on the public’s mourning of Washington. He created a bunch of anecdotes that “proved” how virtuous Washington was and sold millions.
Betsy Ross Made the First Flag
She probably didn’t. The story of Betsy Ross was popularized by her grandson a century after she died. The grave in Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia definitely contains human remains, but they may well not be her — there was guesswork involved.
It’s Illegal to Burn the American Flag
Not under the First Amendment, it isn’t. In 1990, the Supreme Court declared laws against desecrating the flag were unconstitutional. In fact, when a flag wears out, tastefully burning it on Flag Day is often the preferred method of disposal.
The Declaration of Independence Was Signed on July 4th, 1776
Nope. Congress approved it on July 4th, with Jefferson having drafted it in June, but the signing didn’t take place until August 2nd. So, on July 4th 1776, America was not by any stretch of the imagination an independent country.
The 13 Stripes Represent the 13 Colonies That Rebelled Against British Rule in 1775
There were only 12. Delaware didn’t count as a colony on its own — it was part of Pennsylvania until June 1776. It made up for its lateness by being the first to ratify the constitution, though.
George Washington, Expert Strategist, Handed the British Their Asses
Washington was far from a perfect military strategist — losses at Fort Washington and Fort Lee can be at least partly blamed on his indecision, while French commanders deserve a lot of the credit for achievements perceived as Washington’s. Sacre bleu!
Paul Revere Yelled “The British Are Coming!”
Most of the people living in Massachusetts in 1775 would have considered themselves British. If Revere had shouted that — which he wouldn’t have, as it was a secret mission — it would just have confused people.
Mount Rushmore Is an Icon of America
Not as much as it could have been. Original plans included Sacagawea, Crazy Horse and Red Cloud — that wouldn’t make up for stolen land but might’ve been something. However, sculptor Gutzon Borglum — mighty tight with the KKK — shut that down.
Paul Bunyan Was a Real American Folk Hero
Loggers told tales of a big fella named Paul Bunyan, but it was advertising copywriter William B. Laughead, promoting the Red River Lumber Company, who created the main Bunyan myth — increasing his size to insane proportions, naming Babe and more.
America Is the Greatest Country in the World!
It might well be — it’s really nice — but if so, why aren’t its people happier? The World Happiness Report, which includes data on health, longevity and freedom, places the U.S. 15th, with Finland topping the chart. The answer? Destroy Finland.
But It’s the Richest!
In terms of sheer piles of cash, America has the most — of the world’s wealthier countries, it has the highest population, which adds up. But averaged out (i.e., per capita), Luxembourg, Ireland, Switzerland, Qatar, Norway and Singapore beat America.
In God We Trust
Doesn’t the motto of the U.S. kind of go against the idea of the separation of church and state? Plus around 30 percent of American adults are completely non-religious, so they don’t trust in shit, yo.
America Has Absolutely Nailed It
The whole point is that it should always be getting better. The lyrics to “America The Beautiful” even acknowledge there’s work to be done: “America! America! / God mend thine every flaw / Confirm thy soul in self-control / Thy liberty in law.”