Sometimes I write guest opinion columns in my local paper. I know the easy quip would be that I do it because I don’t want anyone to read my writing or that doing so means I should apply to AARP. I don’t give a crap though- I love it. Seeing my face and my few small words in newsprint… not to get all Hank Williams Jr about it, but it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy because it’s a family tradition. And now that I think of it, Hank Williams Jr. would probably love my local paper… his beliefs are all OVER that opinion page even if my own are usually not.
My guest column, titled “Where would America be without everyone else” is in response to the shark-eyeroll inducing original letter titled “Where would America be without Germans”:
I will give it to good Mr. O. and agree with the first two sentences of his recent column that stated (in summary) that October passed with little acknowledgement of it being German American History month. I’ll agree with that statement mostly because I had to look it up to make sure that was a real thing. Kudos! It is. Though it’s also Polish American History Month, Filipino American History Month, Dwarfism Awareness Month, Auto Battery Safety Month, Italian History Month, and Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender History Month. You want to talk about the makings of an awesome Month Awareness Parade! Let’s commit, as citizens, to making that happen next year.
And I’ll agree with another statement in that column as well: that (in summary) no German Americans perpetrated any sabotage on American soil during both world wars. But let us also not forget that they were not alone in that fact. No Japanese American or Italian American was accused of nor convicted of sabotage during WWII, as well. So let’s not claim sole credit for what seems to have been a bit of a fad of loyalty to the stars and stripes during that period by the American citizens who just happened to be of ethnic descent from our enemies.
And yes, I’ll give you that there are notable inventions by Germans that you listed in your column. Kudos again! Only thing is this: everything else was invented by…everyone else. The car was invented, yes, by a German in 1885 (Karl Benz) but electric brakes were invented by Mexican inventor Victor Ochoa in 1907. Squirrels and street-ball players salute you, Mr. Ochoa. And that must have been a pretty nerve-wracking 22 years in the interim. The telephone was invented by a Scotsman. The weather balloon by a Frenchman. The list of literally every other invention is pretty extensive so we’ll leave it at that.
But the picnic?! To have stated that the picnic was invented by German Americans?! How is that even possible? I’m pretty sure the prehistoric humans had many a picnic- which is provable by the fact that neither houses nor tables were invented yet! But even discounting that- the word picnic itself is French and dates from the early 1690s. There is a French painting by Lemoyne of a picnic in 1723 that is titled the Hunt’s Picnic. That is years before America even became a country for there to be citizens of German descent living in. I could go on, but that claim certainly has a whiff of Gore inventing the internet to it.
If you’re special then we’re and they’re all special is my point. All cultures. All ethnicities. All nationalities. All batteries. Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. All of us are special and deserving of real respect, and so one shouldn’t presume to try to set themselves above others. And the real greatness of that fact is that it puts us all on the same playing field. We are all and walk among giants everyday that way. But the question to ponder is does that make us all giants or just raise the height of normalcy? Not to be insensitive to our fellow citizens with Dwarfism. Dwarfism Awareness month taught us that back in October.