Thursday, November 01, 2012

Revisiting the War of 1812 Canadian Style With A Nod Toward Truth In Advertising.

"By repelling the American invasion Canada won the war of 1812." So we read in the National Post this day.

Be that as it may, the war of 1812 was settled between the Americans and the British with the Treaty of Ghent-a town in Belgium, by the way. With the defeat of Napoleon by the British the twin issues of impressment of American sailors and interference with American trade with French possessions-which was what the war was about- died an unlamented death.

Shortly after the Treaty of Ghent was ratified, Napoleon escaped from Elba and the British found themselves with more pressing matters to attend to, mostly stirred up by the pesky Corsican.

They take this stuff very seriously in El Norte as it is the bicentennial of the truly ill advised war of that name, which parenthetically does not lend itself to facile statements like the above one.

The great issue with rewriting history to suit yourself is that sooner or later, as in this case, you may come to believe the doctored version.

Josef Goebbels noted this when he said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Of course,Goebbels himself was the victim of what he identified and in fact, he wrote the history of Naziism's destruction prior to the event, but even blind pigs can find acorns every now and then.

The record's not very clear about the war of 1812 either, despite what kids are taught in school there or here-one wonders whether they teach kids anything at all here in the States, even stuff that's wrong.

It's at best a dubious proposition.

If Canada needs something to be proud about in the martial department it could be its role in the two wars against German militarism and world fascism while America slept-although, let it be said, after Germany was trounced Canada stopped showing up for the war against Japanese fascism but nevermind. It's a good thing too, that the Japanese never decided to invade Vancouver either because we'd never have heard the end of it.

The lessons of 1812 were clear for us. You can't fight a war without a plan, and you can't do it with 90 day enlistments and appeals for volunteers who never get paid or fed, and you can't do it with idiots for commanders. And it was pretty stupid to begin with anyway.

And we're sorry we started it, OK? Feel better?

But it did convince the British government we weren't to be trifled with as easily as all that, and our civil war settled the matter once and for all. Although, be it remembered, Halifax was a convenient stopping place for Confederate blockade runners to load up on military supplies for deah ole Dixie. It is passing strange that John Bull was all four square against slavery, Wilberforce, righteous indignation and all that but saw no problem with selling arms in quantity to the greatest slaveocracy in the Northern Hemisphere but nevermind that either.

We're all entitled to our national inconsistencies.

While we're on the subject, what the hell was that little contretemps in N'Wawlins all about when Pakenham's British regulars got themselves 2,042 causalties for
71 Americans, the army of Jackson being composed of negro freemen, Kentucky briars with squirrel guns, riverboat gamblers, Cajuns and a few regular army soldiers?

Oh. I remember. The war was officially over but the paperwork hadn't arrived.

How about a coin for that?

Or maybe one that shows American sailors being pressganged off American vessels, enslaved and flogged by the Royal Navy? They were very big on flogging, you know.

How about the capture of the HMS Macedonian? Or Plattsburg?

Or one that says "We hated slavery but profited from its perpetuation"?

That's one, I am quite sure, that will never be minted.


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