Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Yeah, I’m still alive, barely. Last weekend, for example, I moved about 4,000 pounds of books. Sure, I had a hand truck, but I had to take the 80 pound boxes off of shelves and put them onto the hand truck, then haul them up the ramp into the U-Haul, repeat, rinse for three hours straight. Then at the other end, put the boxes of books onto the hand truck and lower it down the ramp, then pick them *up* to put them onto the shelves. Oh my aching back! (Uhm, yes, I own *way* too many books. Maybe I should start a bookstore?).

So anyhow, Freddie Oversteegen died recently. She was 14 years old when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. She joined the resistance and served at first as a courier, tying her hair back into pigtails to make herself look like a little girl riding her bicycle around. Later she carried a pistol and seduced German soldiers and Dutch collaborators and led them into the woods, where she killed them.

She survived, but during her high school years when she should have been going to parties and learning stuff in school and being a teenager, she was doing something dangerous and unpleasant that she carried with her for the rest of her life. In interviews, Ms. Oversteegen often spoke of the physics of killing — not the feel of the trigger or kick of the gun, but the inevitable collapse that followed, her victims’ fall to the ground.

“Yes,” she told one interviewer, according to the Dutch newspaper IJmuider Courant , “I’ve shot a gun myself and I’ve seen them fall. And what is inside us at such a moment? You want to help them get up.”

Except they didn’t. They were dead. And Freddie was not a sociopath, so that hurt something inside her. She tried to soothe that pain with babies and marriage, and it seemed to work, mostly. And it helped her get her priorities straight — Scrabble and tea were more important to her than public attention. But she was never what she would have been if the Nazis hadn’t come. That’s what happens when Nazis take over a country. Getting rid of them takes sacrifices that will change lives forever.

Then there was Hannie Schaft.

Hannie was a red-headed ball of fire. When the Nazis invaded, she was ready to kill Nazis. The regular Resistance wouldn’t let her kill Nazis, they just wanted her to be a courier and intelligence asset. She basically said fuck that, and went with the Communists instead, who had no problem taking a 19 year old teenager and turning her into a killer. So while she was in law school learning to be a human rights lawyer, she was also secretly working as a courier and assassin, killing Nazis and Nazi collaborators. Until they caught her, a few weeks before the German surrender.

Her last words were to her Nazi executioners. After their first shot only wounded her, she said “I shoot better than you do.” The next shot didn’t miss.

She was a fireball. What she would have done if her country hadn’t been taken over by Nazis is unknown, but it probably would have been spectacular. Alas, Nazis put an end to any such speculation the way Nazis always do — with bullets. Which is why Nazis are bad and evil, in case there was any question (hello, Mr. Trump!).

Nazis are bad. People who wave Nazi flags and shout Nazi slogans are Nazis. And Nazis taking over a country is a bad, bad thing that must be resisted with all methods possible. Any questions?

– Badtux the History Penguin

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I have to laugh at the ammosexual boobs who think the Viet Cong guerrillas won the Vietnam War and thus this proves that unorganized peasants with AK-47’s can defeat the US Army. They didn’t. They were totally destroyed as an effective fighting force in 1968 when the North Vietnamese deliberately sent them all into battle as a distraction against regular U.S. Army units.

All fighting after that was by regular units of the North Vietnamese Army vs regular units of the U.S. Army and Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The NVA were armed with artillery and tanks and surface to air missiles but had trouble moving these into South Vietnam when they infiltrated units into South Vietnam, thus the illusion that the US was fighting a bunch of peasants armed with light weapons. But they weren’t. It was just that U.S. bombing made it hard to move the heavy weaponry into South Vietnam. Once the U.S. left the war and quit bombing, it turned into conventional warfare between conventional army units of the North Vietnamese Army and the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam. It was regular units of the North Vietnamese Army backed by Soviet-provided tanks and Soviet-provided artillery, surface-to-air missiles, and other such heavy weapons who conquered South Vietnam, not some random civilians with AK-47’s.

The myth that the Viet Kong won the Vietnam War is an old one and a deep one, fed by stupid newspapermen and stupid movies and racism on the part of Army grunts over the course of decades. But in the end, it took tanks and artillery and other heavy weaponry to win the war for North Vietnam — not a buncha peasants armed with AK-47’s. All that the peasants ever managed to do was become dead bodies. Which is all that would happen if the ammosexuals decided to take on the U.S. Army, too.

– Badtux the Military Penguin

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By which I mean, Karl Marx.

May 5th was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.

Hard-core Marxists are fond of saying “true Marxism has never been tried.” Well, there’s a reason for that. It’s because true Marxism is unworkable. That was the biggest reason why Communism arose — as it became clear that real people just don’t behave in ways that make Marxism workable, the creators of the Communist Revolution in Russia decided that what was needed was a dictatorship of the proletariat to train the people, over the generations, to behave in the ways needed for Marxism to work. In the end that dictatorship became a self-propagating mechanism that completely forgot about why it was created in the first place. After all, what dictator really wants to relinquish power?

Still, none of that changes the fact that Karl Marx correctly diagnosed the problems of the capitalist system of his era, a capitalist system that monopolized the output of workers at gunpoint into the hands of leeches who would be bankrupt if not for the output they stole from workers at gunpoint, a capitalist system that viewed workers as disposable, safety nets as dangerous weakness, and old people should just die, already, as useless eaters. His policy prescriptions for dealing with those problems were unworkable and eventually distorted into something horrific (the Communist system that killed tens of millions of people worldwide, maybe even hundreds of millions, over the roughly hundred years that it was extant), but his observations were correct — and are becoming true again. Alas.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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So that happened 243 years ago. You’ve probably heard all the silliness about Paul Revere and so forth. The most stupid silliness I’ve heard today, however, was that the British went to those two places in order to disarm the colonials.

Uhm, no. The British mission was to confiscate military weapons and munitions *STORED IN THE TOWN MILITIA ARSENALS*. Not to confiscate firearms in the possession of individuals. They were especially concerned with some brass cannon that the colonial militia had assembled. They could have cared less about the rifles and fowling pieces that were owned by individuals, they were after military weapons.

Which is a point I keep making about those who claim that personally owned and possessed firearms were a Big Deal in colonial Massachusetts militias: they weren’t. Massachusetts had always had a collectivist streak when it came to firearms, likely because of their Puritan underpinnings where early Massachusetts communities were run more like cults than like anything we have today. Their militias were heavily armed, but the muskets and cannon were kept in town arsenals along with sufficient gunpowder and shot to make them of use, not in individual homes. Individuals may have owned rifles or fowling pieces (shotguns), but they did not have a musket at home because for personal use, muskets were basically useless. They were too inaccurate and too long and heavy to make good hunting weapons.

I’ve written long discourses on Colonial era military weapons and tactics elsewhere, but suffice it to say that most of what we “know” about the era is wrong when you study the actual military weapons, tactics, and science of the era. For example, there were no battles that were settled by colonials sniping from behind trees. Even Lexington and Concord wasn’t settled by that, the British soldiers achieved their objectives, then headed home. The sniping was misery, but the sniping was because they hadn’t brought their own skirmishers with them to counter-snipe — the British knew very well (having defeated the French and Indians) how to deal with that kind of thing. They just hadn’t realized they were going to war that day, rather than a modest police action to disarm some people who had illegal cannon.

And militia… there was a single (one) battle after that initial clash where militia made an impact. That was it, in the entire war. Everywhere else they were utterly useless, thus why George Washington inserted the militia clauses into the Constitution in some hope of getting militia that was actually useful (which turned out to be wishful thinking — in the War of 1812, the militia once *again* were useless). Yet this mystique about the militia somehow winning the war remains, when the actual cause of the British basically surrendering was that they ran out of money. Seriously. The British Crown was bankrupt by 1784. Couldn’t even meet interest payments on their national debt or pay the soldiers already on American soil, much less replace those surrendered at Yorktown. And the French and Spanish were threatening India, which was far more valuable than sparsely-settled American colonies. The British could have perhaps fought on by raising taxes but to do so threatened the loss of India. They ended the war to protect India, they didn’t get defeated militarily — even the forces at Yorktown were less than 1/10th of the British forces on American soil. Granted, most of those forces were in Canada or New York City, but there they were.

None of which is taught to American students in American K-12 schools, which instead are replete with jingoistic nonsense with no basis in fact. So it goes.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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And why did he leave so many of the vicious crackers that ended up forming the KKK alive rather than swinging from the gallows for treason?

Grant had two problems. The first was that Jefferson Davis had ordered the Confederate armies to disappear into the woods and hills and operate as guerillas. The Confederate generals disobeyed his direct order and surrendered instead, but if Grant had been more punitive than he was, they might have changed their mind, and the punitiveness might also have changed the mind of enough of the highly trained Confederate soldiers that they would have joined the Confederate generals in waging concerted guerilla warfare. People in the North were tired of war. He risked unrest and political repercussions in the North if war broke out again due to his actions.

The second problem he faced was that the majority of the electorate in the North wanted their boys back home. They didn’t want to continue funding a huge army of occupation in the South. Oh, they gave lip service towards the notion of equal rights for black people in the South, but they weren’t willing to put blood and money behind it to maintain a large army of occupation. So Grant tried to arm black people in the South and get them organized as an organized militia. Unfortunately most blacks were illiterate (a deliberate plan by slave owners) and had little knowledge of even the basics of being a soldier nevermind how to organize effectively and conduct tactical maneuvers efficiently, and they were faced with former Confederate soldiers who were highly trained in the only way that people knew to train soldiers back in those days — i.e., they’d actually fought in real battles, which the former slaves had not. It was a process similar to what we’ve recently undergone in Afghanistan, where we tried to train the locals to be effective soldiers, but the results have been … underwhelming. Well, the results of attempting to train the black militias were pretty underwhelming too. The few times the black militias got into a pitched battle with former Confederates, they got wiped off the field.

In short, Grant had some harsh political realities to deal with. I might wish he had at least hanged a few of the worst of the Confederate leaders as traitors — Jefferson Davis deserved to hang if only for that order he’d issued to conduct guerilla warfare, Jubal Early needed to hang because he was the only Confederate general literate enough to invent the “Lost Cause” myths that later replaced real history in the South, and certainly mean crackers like Nathan Bedford Forrest (founder of the KKK) needed to hang if only for the fact that they had executed surrendered black soldiers in violation of the laws of war. But Grant decided that executing these people would create too much unrest — unrest that the Northern population wasn’t willing to pay the price to put down. In retrospect it seems to me that he made a mistake. The rot spread from the South in the past 150 years, and now afflicts a large amount of middle America. But it was a mistake that was fundamentally based in the realities that he faced, not something that arose out of stupidity or drunkenness.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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Boomers typically react to millennials who point out their hypocrisy on things like jobs and student loans (where boomers could get good paying jobs with benefits with just a high school diploma, and could attend college for free or for very little money, while millennials need a college degree to find even McJobs that barely pay above minimum wage and must take out hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans to do so ) by saying, “but we led the civil rights movement and stopped the Vietnam War!”


The Civil Rights movement was led primarily by people born prior to 1945, the start of the “Boomer” generation. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929. Jesse Jackson was born in 1941. Genevieve Hughes, one of the original Freedom Riders, was born in 1932. John Lewis, another of the original Freedom Riders, was born in 1940. Diane Nash, another of the original Freedom Riders, was born in 1938. James Peck, who was beat up on the first Freedom Ride, was born in 1914 for crying out loud.

None of these people were/are Boomers. For Boomers to appropriate the sacrifices of these people as if they belong to their own generation is the ultimate in hypocrisy. It’s fucking evil, is what it is. These people fought and died for the rights of all Americans. To have their accomplishments appropriated is just wrong.

Regarding the Vietnam War, the largest anti-Vietnam War marches, those of November 15, 1969, attracted less than 500,000 people. Meanwhile, the number of Boomers who volunteered to fight the war in Vietnam was 70% of the total. Of the 2.5 million boomers who served in Vietnam, roughly 70% of them were volunteers — or 1.75 million of them. Most of those who actually saw combat were volunteers. Draftees were viewed as unreliable and were generally shifted to non-combat positions or stationed in Europe or Korea. If it wasn’t for boomers volunteering to fight in Vietnam, there wouldn’t have *been* a Vietnam War, because the U.S. military wouldn’t have been able to find enough reliable troops to conduct the war.

Funny how all Boomers seem to think they ended the war in Vietnam, when far more Boomers volunteered to FIGHT in Vietnam than volunteered to march AGAINST the VIetnam War! And you wonder why millennials view Boomers as hypocrites and roll their eyes when Boomers start ranting about how they were these great Civil Rights warriors and ended the Vietnam War? Really?!

– Badtux the Eye-rolling Penguin

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Oh wait….

From the Library of Congress:

“According to the Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference, 2002, page 860, approximately 70,000 books have been published on the Civil War over the years up to that date. The Library of Congress, though not owning every one of these books, most likely owns copies of a great majority of them. The shelf space taken up by the Civil War books just in the E call number classification in the closed book stacks is considerable. This does not include those books which cover Civil War related information and may be cataloged primarily under other subjects. One should also consider that the Library owns many thousands of photographs and illustrations, maps, and manuscript materials on the Civil War.
I hope this information proves to be of help to you. Thank you.
W. Elsbury
Reference Specialist
Main Reading Room
Humanities and Social Sciences Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20540-4660


It’s interesting that the same people who keep telling blacks to get over that whole slavery thing, already, seem to be the same people who want to keep all those statues of slave-owners on every street corner in the South because they’re still not over the Civil War.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

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