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Thread: H. L. Mencken on Anglo-Saxons

  1. #11
    Senior Member Bodewin's Avatar
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    More Mencken

    "To accuse so enterprising and successful a race of cowardice, of course, is to risk immediate derision; nevertheless, I believe that a fair-minded examination of its history will bear me out. Nine-tenths of the great feats of derring-do that its sucklings are taught to venerate in school … have been
    wholly lacking in even the most elementary gallantry. Consider, for example, the events attending the extension of the two great empires, English and American. Did either movement evoke any genuine courage and resolution? The answer is plainly no. Both empires were built up primarily by swindling
    and butchering unarmed savages, and after that by robbing weak and friendless nations... [N]either exposed the folks at home to any serious danger of reprisal … Moreover, neither great enterprise cost any appreciable
    amount of blood; neither presented grave and dreadful risks; neither exposed the conqueror to the slightest danger of being made the conquered. The British won most of their vast dominions without having to stand up in a single battle against a civilised and formidable foe, and the Americanos won
    their continent at the expense of a few dozen puerile skirmishes with savages ..."The Mexican and Spanish Wars I pass over as perhaps too obscenely ungallant to be discussed at all; of the former, U.S. Grant, who fought in it, said that it was 'the most unjust war ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation'. Who remembers that, during the Spanish War, the whole Atlantic Coast trembled in fear of the Spaniards' feeble fleet, that all New England had hysterics every time a strange coal-barge was sighted on the sky-line, that the safe-deposit boxes of Boston were emptied and their contents transferred to Worcester, and that the Navy had to organise a patrol to save the coast towns from depopulation? Perhaps those Reds, atheists and pro-Germans remember it who also remember that during World War I the entire country went wild with fear of an enemy who, without the aid of divine intervention, obviously could not strike it a blow at all, and that the great moral victory was gained at last with the assistance of twenty-one allies and at odds of eight to one.

    "The case of World War II was even more striking. The two enemies that the United States tackled had been softened by years of a hard struggle with desperate foes, and those foes continued to fight on. Neither enemy could muster even a tenth of 'the materials that the American forces had the use of. And at the end both were outnumbered in men by odds truly
    enormous."

    (In A Mencken Chrestomathy, New York: Knopf, 1949, pp. 173-175)

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    Senior Member FadeTheButcher's Avatar
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    My response over at The Phora:

    History has its losers just as it has its winners. Experience has demonstrated to me that it is best to let the losers wallow in their victimhood, as success speaks for itself. We have better more important matters to deal with.
    The Phora

    "There are no principles; there are only events. There is no good and bad, there are only circumstances. The superior man espouses events and circumstances in order to guide them. If there were principles and fixed laws, nations would not change them as we change our shirts and a man can not be expected to be wiser than an entire nation."
    —Honoré de Balzac

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