Random 3:00am Meanderings3 March, 2008
Last night, I had some mild insomnia. It wasn’t so much that I was tired and couldn’t sleep, I was just in that pleasant half-awake state (my wife says I spend a lot of time there) and my mind was meandering. I meandered into World War II aircraft, military vehicles, and military formations. And I had an odd thought (not that unusual, but this odd thought lead to the following).
Today, the religious right claims to have a monopoly on patriotism. They often claim that they want to bring America back to the 1940s or 50s. However, if the current group of christianist fundogelicals had possessed comperable political power in the 1940s, how would they have reacted to the Greatest Generation?
I ask that question because of certain right wing campaigns: changing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to the Tampa Bay Rays; changing U.S. Route 666 into something else; changing Purgatory ski area (along the River of Lost Souls (Rio de Perdidos Animas)) to Ski Durango (I skied there in the seventies, and fondly remember the great lip at the top of Lower Hades); and many others. Apparently, using the word Devil, or some magic number, or using the name of the local river to inspire a creative name for a ski area, is verbotten. Why? Apparently these words are ‘magic.’ Merely using them, or saying them (or using them in a blog) is an invitation to, and invitation to, . . . . what? Do they actually think that the Devil Rays strengthened Satan? or that travelling on Route 666 disrespects God or Jesus?
Okay, back to World War II and the Greatest Generation. The U.S. Navy had in the Grumman F6F Hellcat one of the best carrrier-based fighter planes of the war. The U.S. Navy also had an excellent divebomber in the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. One of the squadrons of the Flying Tigers in China was the Hells Angels. Many aircraft and armoured vehicles had scantily clad women painted on the sides, or sayings such as “Hellzapoppin,” or “Satan’s Little Helper.”
Now, based upon the religious right’s reactions to something as innocent as a ski area or a baseball team, how would they have reacted to the normal nomenclature of the time? Or the relative freedom soldiers had to use phrases which, today, would earn them the opprobrium of the religious conservatives?
Now, think for a moment if the situation was reversed. If progressives and atheists were objecting to modern baseball team names, route numbers and ski areas, how quickly would the press and the logic free right make the connection to our heroes of World War II?