Sunday, November 18, 2012

By 1945, Martin Henry Dawson's 1940 war aim had become OUR war aim too

Baby, dank Harry Lime, werden nicht neeeding Teddy

In September 1940 , at the height of the Battle of Britain, war hero Martin Henry Dawson decided against rejoining the Canadian Army to help fight Hitler.

He would fight Hitler instead by saving the lives of the very people that Hitler (and a lot of Dawson's medical colleagues) judged to be "lives unworthy of life" --- particularly in wartime.

In five short weeks, he grew and then injected penicillin into two working class youths, a Negro and a Jew , both dying of invariably fatal SBE.

 In many eyes, they were judged to be the 4Fs of the 4Fs, and definitely not a priority for life-saving during a Total War.

But Dawson instinctively felt that this was something that would definitely separate the Allies from the Axis , proving that the Allies believed in saving all lives - in particular even the smallest and the weakest, "the least of these", as it were.

The Allied government-scientific-military-commercial establishment disagreed, saving penicillin only for the 1As of the 1As, the frontline combat soldiers away from the killing zone due to a non-fatal dose of the clap they had picked up.

They banned the use of penicillin to save SBEs , sentencing them to a certain death.

Dawson, himself dying from a terminal disease, defied the authorities and stole some government-issued penicillin to give to the SBEs , later getting secret supplies from a sympathetic CEO at a Big Pharma corporation.

His misdeeds inspired others, the story broke, Doctor Mom sided with Dawson's ideas and the males in the establishment reluctantly fell in line.

But very soon they saw the virtue in Dawson's ideas, and warplanes were soon flying about, dropping not bombs but penicillin for dying children in both Allied countries and in Neutral nations.

Penicillin-the-lifesaver-of-all-civilian-lives had become a very public weapon in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the world for the Allied cause.

So much so, in fact, that by 1949 erstwhile 'citizen of an Allied nation' Harry Lime was judged one of fiction's all time villains mostly because he had dared to water down the penicillin intended for dying children.  Dying Axis children.

It is this viewpoint, only 4 years after the war, that I thinks allows us to claim "The Third Man" as one of the first postmodern films.

Dawson was four years dead by that point, but I think he would have be proud to think how far his war aims had become our war aims.....

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