I have a wildly successful history podcast here at Barstool that tends to focus on this country's past indiscretions, and yet I have very little to say about the current state of unrest in the United States because I feel my feedback would be non-constructive and perhaps hypocritical. As a result, I have kept my mouth shut for the most part except for during my equally wildly popular morning radio show here at Barstool where I can ask questions and give observations with 2 black friends who have a more vested interest in the aforementioned civil unrest that we see splashed across anything with a screen.
However, being the de-facto "history guy" (along with Vibbs... and Donnie... and Chief... and Eddie... and sometimes Coley) I thought I might provide just a little bit of historical perspective into some of the tougher times in our nation’s past in order to juxtapose them against what is happening in modern times.
The title of this blog was something an old trader I used to clerk for would say to me whenever I would mention the word “perspective”.
Perspective?… All I know about perspective is an elevator smells a lot different when you're a midget.
He was full of one-liners like that, and he wasn’t afraid to recycle them to death. So much so, that every time I fucked up a trade, I could almost beat him to the punch in saying, “You know, Large… Somewhere there’s a village missing its idiot.”
(RIP, Teddy K)
But I digress.
I know that the between (-- deep breath in --) the Chinese Trade War, the tragic death of Kobe and his daughter, the incineration of Australia, murder hornets, a global pandemic, the brutal murder of a civilian by a reprehensible police officer, and the ensuing protests and riots (-- deep breath out --) it’s easy to call 2020 "The Worst Year Ever”.
Couple that with the fact we are barely six months in and STILL five months away from an election whose results could cause an all-out Un-Civil War, I can’t argue that Americans in general (and black people more specifically) have had their fill of biblical shit year-to-date with no end in sight.
Hell, India announced yesterday it is using drones and fire trucks to fight its worst locust invasion in more than 30 years... Swarms of locust are about as biblical as I can get without smearing lamb's blood on my doorway.
But I happened to read an essay called “Perspective” a couple of weeks ago on one of the many websites I peruse (an essay that I am not sure exactly where I read, cut, & pasted, but admittedly I borrow HEAVILY from below) and I thought it would at least entertain some of us to consider the life experiences of generations gone by.
This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison by any stretch of the imagination. Nor is it an “I walked 2 miles in the snow uphill both ways to school”-type rant because the timeline below pre-dates even me (but probably not Jerry Thornton).
It’s just that as I view what’s going on all over the country today from my little perch 30,000 feet above the fray, I thought maybe you would like to join me on that perch and look back at the United States 100 + years ago.
And, if not, thanks for following along so far and...
But for those Huckleberries who are still with me...
Imagine you were a white American male born in 1900.
It’s right before the turn of the 20th century... 120 years ago.
You’re 27 years away from the first television being in a home.
Slavery was abolished almost 100 years before you were born (in 1804), but segregation would be legal right up until the time you turn 54 years old.
(and here’s where I borrow heavily from that “Perspective” essay I referenced above)
When you are 14, World War I begins and then ends on your 18th birthday with 22 million people killed... 1914-1918.
Later in that same year, the Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until you are 20… Fifty million people die from it in those two years.
I will say that again… Two years and 50 million dead.
Also, in 1920, you witness women voting for the first time.
So now you’re in the real formative time in your life… Age 20-29. You made it past a World War AND a global pandemic that collectively killed almost 75 million people.
You find a job and go to work on securing a career… Maybe think about starting a family with some sexy dame with a nice set of gams who can now vote.
When you’re 29, Herbert Hoover is president… And he’s terrible at it.
Not blaming it all on Double H, but on his watch, the stock market crashes, and The Great Depression begins which was the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting globally from 1929 to 1939. Unemployment hits 25% (I think it’s ~ 15% right now, but don’t quote me), one out of every 3 banks fail, and the country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
When you turn 39, World War II starts across the pond, and, when you’re 41, the United States is fully pulled in after the bombing at Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941).
Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war and the Holocaust kills another six million innocent Jews.
At 52, the Korean War starts and another five million perish.
On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago is brutally murdered in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman. His murderers are acquitted, and the case brings international attention to the civil rights movement after Jet magazine publishes a photo of Till’s beaten body at his open-casket funeral.
Later that same year, on December 1st, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.
On September 9th, 1956, Elvis appears on The Ed Sullivan Show and it probably made you mad but also a little bit hard.
As you approach your 62nd birthday, you have the Cuban Missile Crisis… Which is arguably the most gut-wrenching part of your already riveting life so far. For 13 fucking days, you wait by the television knowing the fate of our planet and the possibility of nuclear holocaust resided firmly in the hands of JFK and Nikita Krushchev.
Two years later, you turn 64 and the Vietnam War begins... It goes on for 11 years and four million people ultimately die.
The bottom half of the 70s is not worth mentioning and then you are hurtling towards death as the 1980s begin and you're watching even more images that anger and arouse you... This time, it's George Michael's WHAM! from your wheelchair.
Now think about how many teenagers in 1985 (myself included) thought their 85-year-old grandparents had no fucking clue how hard life was. Yet those grandparents (and now great grandparents) survived through everything listed above, and more.
But that’s only because of teenagers in the ’80s... Again, myself included... Who had great haircuts, but no perspective.
And that is the reason I am sharing this with you today.
I won’t dare get granular or opinionated on what I think should be done about the systemic injustice we are witnessing against black people… It’s not my place.
But I will tell you PURELY FROM MY PERSPECTIVE that this country has weathered through some horrible times before. However, every valley in our Twisted History has been followed with a corresponding peak.
Here’s hoping this next peak is a lot more inclusive.
Take a report.
I basically re-read this blog word-for-word and then get VERY granular on the doozy of a year people had in 1920 on this week's Twisted History… Check it out, if you're into that kind of shit.
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