From The Guardian:
Once, in Blackadder, the eponymous first-world-war British army captain learned that the Germans were stealing our battle plans. ‘You look surprised, Blackadder,’ said Stephen Fry’s absurdly over-moustachioed, rubicund General Melchett.
‘I certainly am, sir,’ retorted our hero. ‘I didn’t realise we had any battle plans.’
‘Well, of course we have!’ shouted Melchett. ‘How else do you think the battles are directed?’
‘Our battles are directed, sir?’
‘Well, of course they are, Blackadder, directed according to the Grand Plan.’
‘Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone’s dead except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig and their tortoise, Alan?’
‘Great Scott!’ exclaims Melchett. ‘Even you know it!’
The Secretary of Education of the United Kingdom (the United Kingdom has education?!) is royally upset that anyone would make fun of World War I as that great and glorious event hits the 100-year mark. And he’s not upset because British humor is so relentlessly unfunny. He’s upset because people might laugh.
But of course if people had been permitted to make fun of World War I at the time, without being thrown in prison (Yes, that was also Woodrow — the Obama delusion for liberals of his day — Wilson’s policy), well then, perhaps the stupid bloody idiocy could have been stopped or prevented.
The Secretary of Education, if he had a bit of — what is that stuff? oh yeah — education would know that the majority of observers have very good reasons for believing that World War I was, as he puts it, “a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.”
Well, what would you call it when a group of inbred cousins meet to squabble over petty matters of competing egos at all the best weddings and funerals and then return to ruling over their respective nations as divinely appointed monarchs and ministers eager to send their peoples off to murder each other for no particular reason, especially if these sociopaths and their sycophants each decide they must defensively attack the other first, not because war can begin so quickly but because it takes months to badger people into knocking off the wisecracks, abandoning all sense of human decency, and picking up a gun, and then to put those people on trains to send them on a trip to a big field in which imbeciles on horses with swords will try to conquer machine guns and poison gas, eventually realize how ridiculous they are being, and hide in tents far from the fighting while ordering millions of others who have no interest in the affair to kill each other year after year after year for no earthly reason and with nothing to show for it at the end — an end pre-determined by mutual agreement, but with the fighting continuing until that appointed day and hour?
And that was the wise, deliberate, and admirable part of World War I. The stupidity really took hold, along with the influenza falsely called Spanish and the brilliant notion of banning alcohol, with the settlement of the war in a royal French palace where it was decided to punish the entire nation of Germany severely, begin preparations for World War II, carve up the so-called Middle-East in order to produce a century of chaos there, and to tell Ho Chi Minh to go to hell, laying some early groundwork for the never-to-be-ridiculed war on Vietnam, which the U.S. government is now funding a major campaign to beautify (don’t laugh!).
All right, so maybe I find it all too horrific to laugh at, but if others can laugh at it — even when the jokes are predictable and stupid — I can think of nothing better for the world. In fact, I wholeheatedly encourage everyone to complete this line: How many Secretaries of Education does it take to change a lightbulb?
Take away the gun
From every mother’s son
We’re taught by God above
To forgive, forget, and love
The weary world is waiting for
So take away the gun
From every mother’s son
And put an end to war
World War I photo from the collection of Daniel R Blume.