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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Is the Past a More Polite Country?

Last evening my wife and I watch most of the Spike Lee movie Miracle at St. Anna on our TV.  We missed the first part of it, which meant that we didn't catch the initial hook, but frankly, I think it was better coming in late and then reasoning back.

After the movie my wife and I had a discussion of two issues.  One was the language used in the movie.  Foul language, as we used to say.  My wife thought that perhaps people didn't use such course language in common conversation.  I argued that the "F-Word" was in common use by people in the Service in World War II.  If we check we find that catch phrases such as FUBAR ([Fouled] Up Beyond All Recognition) and SNAFU (Situation Normal, All [Fouled] Up) are listed on Wikipedia and cited back to WWII.

I think the difference is that back in the day one was careful about saying the "F-Work" in front of one's Mother.  As I recall, the expression is "Once you say ____ in front of your Mother you can never take it back."  Words to live by.

The other question was the degree of racism in the US Army in WWII.  It was a Spike Lee movie, which made it edgy.  On the other hand, from reading Dr Alan L Gropman's book on the Integration of the Air Force, I remember that the Air Force had two projects going forward during WWII, one being fielding Black fighter pilots and the other being fielding a Black bomber capability.  The fighter program, which we know as the Tuskegee Airmen went forward to a roaring success.  We don't often hear about the bomber operation.  The reason is that it was a failure, in that the aircrews and aircraft never deployed overseas.  Dr Gropman attributes this failure to the fact that the White commander of this operation became confused as to his mission.  He seemed to think that it was maintaining segregation, rather than building a combat unit.  So, yes, it is fair to say that there was a lot of racism during WWII.  It probably shouldn't have been that way, but President Woodrow Wilson set back the integration of the Armed Forces by a quarter of a century.

Good film.

Regards  —  Cliff

  Or maybe it was from a lecture he gave on the issue, which I caught somewhere.

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