I find the opinion pages of my small town Texas newspaper to be a daily lesson in patience. Most of the time I can be that water-resistant backed duck. But sometimes… Perhaps it’s simply that any kind of nationalism (yes, even our own) strikes me as a bad idea. Odd to hear coming from a Texan? Who loves her state yet realizes calling it “the best” is an opinion based on bias and lack of knowledge on the others? Yup. Hi there, that’s me! Extrapolate that out to all nations, cultures, ethnicities, and races and that there is my world view. So anyone claiming to be “the best!” gets my back up, and strident whining about how everyone else should appreciate said bestedness even more so. Toss some twisting of historical fact and thinly veiled Hitler praise in there and I get all fired up. Same as the last time I wrote a post like this I’m not posting the letter to the editor I responded to here… due to possible issues with my local newspaper and because I’m not giving the author a forum for his words to go one step further in the world so maybe this is a bit cryptic. I’d like to think it can standalone in this way though let me know if not and I’ll work the next one differently.
Chaos Theory and that thing Mr. O said about 1941
Let’s talk “Butterfly Effect” briefly- and I’m talking chaos theory, not the 2004 movie with Ashton Kutcher. It gets oversimplified into this: the possibility that a hurricane in North America may be caused by a butterfly flapping its wings in China, and all of the aftereffects that result from that small action. Now, there are some problems with this theory, I’ll admit. One of the main ones: Could you really say with certainty, after the fact, which butterfly was responsible for a specific result? The other problem with the theory, as I see it, is that due to such rampant pollution I’m really not sure how many butterflies are left in China. Come to think of it, it has been a pretty quite hurricane season…
When this concept is taken out of the realm of just butterflies and applied to man it basically boils down to this: every action has an effect on the present and therefore changes the future. I’m not going to pick apart each of the claims Mr. O makes about the German influence on history… except for one. (We’ll get back to that.) I’ll just state that his assertion that “there would be no USA or Europe as we know it today (without Germans)” is only accurate if we realize there truly would be no USA or Europe as we know it today without every single action of every single one of the people of the world. Chaos theory. Butterfly effect. The past changes the future. It is a beautiful way of seeing the world and is one of the main reasons I love history as much as I do.
Now…let’s talk the German invasion of Russia in 1941 that Mr. O states was to protect Christianity. Go ahead and look up who ordered that action, called Operation Barbarossa and why it was ordered… no don’t do it on Wikipedia! Sheesh, use a reputable source… go ahead. I’ll wait here. Found who ordered it? Little bit shocked, aren’t you, that anyone would have the absolute chutzpah to trot out anything that guy did as heroic, protecting Christianity, or anything worthy of praise? Yeah, me too. And for anyone who didn’t look that up- here’s a hint: he’s wiped a specific form of mustache off the list of acceptable facial hair for well over six decades now. Was it done to defend Christianity? Do butterflies flap their wings to make hurricanes? Or do they do it to preemptively invade Russia to defend the Third Reich from a perceived threat on its Eastern front? Now, the cause of the invasion can actually be proven (there is, not totally unexpectedly, a plethora of very well-organized notes and directives concerning it) but the final effect is what is up for some interpretation from us today. So there you go, that gives you free reign to interpret and have opinions on the results of factual events in history… just not to misinterpret the motivations or to be piecemeal about the facts themselves.
(Image courtesty of Jean Scheijen)