Thursday, December 27, 2012

America sure loves its minutemen and riflemen - except during wartime

MOS 745 (circa 1780)
Do you accept - or do you deny - gun control and climate change?

Do you think that wartime penicillin should just be for healthy young  scallywags who cheat on their wives but are still fully combat-ready or do you think it should be "wasted" on the dying of all nations, races and creeds ?

Some things never change and the skygods and earthlings still mix it up to oppose each other as much today on gun control and climate change as they did back almost 75 years ago on the best uses for wartime penicillin.

Skygods sure love their guns and sure believe in an America where every man had a gun handy, to defend his family or his nation at a minute's notice.

One can't see much American culture without noticing the omnipresence of two very old symbols from yesterday in this land of tomorrow : the Revolutionary Era Minuteman and the post-Civil War Western rifleman.

It was much the same during WWII, where ads and movie iconography always focused on the modern day minuteman cum rifleman : the Army MOS 745 , the infantry trade of rifleman.

But reality spoke quite differently.

Any one moment in time, only about one American in one thousand (that's about 150,000 people) were actually up in the combat lines, fighting, as MOS 745s.

A few more were in the pipeline waiting their turn, while the vast bulk of America was - in the most profound sense - merely holding the rifleman's cloak.

Nobody much , in reality, actually wanted to be a real life rifleman or minuteman in good old WWII.

Dressing up and playing a Minuteman was lots of fun

As a result, the few MOS 745s America could obtain were almost all conscripts : generally those who were the poorest in life skills and formal education and often (a real shocker !) smaller and thinner than the non-combat boys in the rear echelons of the war.

This is why so much of the Allied debate over wartime penicillin involved these MOS 745s : they were so very few in number.

And so if the one-in-a-thousand American who was a MOS 745 was out of combat-readiness only temporarily because of something that penicillin could quickly fix, then the other 999 out of a 1000 Americans who weren't riflemen and didn't want to be riflemen, were much in favour of giving him scarce penicillin.

That was much better than "wasting it" (to use Winston Churchill's own infamous words) on some gravely wounded MOS 475 who was never was going to be able to fight again - even if he did survive his infection.

They call that rational instrumentality, and it was the hallmark of the Age of Modernity :' use 'em and then toss 'em aside like a used condom, the minute they are of no further use to you'.

Pretty sickening isn't , what granddad and grandma were up to  (morally speaking) back between 1939 and 1945: doesn't it make you want to just go off somewhere and wash your hands till they bleed with some good strong soap ?

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