"Dad, were people just dumber back in the old days?" —David R. Murray, age 7
A BRIEF LETTER FROM CHICAGO'S UKRAINIAN VILLAGE NEIGHBORHOOD:
After the last 1,000 years of European history, it's astonishing how Americans continue to be astonished at national aggression.
Because we idly assume that Western history ended when the Berlin Wall came down and everything after that exists in some post-historical purgatory where what happens isn't necessarily terrific—in fact, it's downright confusing. (Seriously, Middle East?). But at least what happens now is not at all connected to all that horrible stuff we learned in history class, perpetrated by such unpleasant people as Henry VIII, Cromwell, Napolean, Hitler and Stalin. (Men!) People are smarter than that now, because people have Apple computers, and Steven Colbert. (Here it is, your Moment of Zen: Does anybody seriously think the Nazis would have taken over Europe and exterminated six million Jews if they were getting killed on the Comedy Channel every night? Yes, they would have had an easier time of it, because our outrage would have been released nightly, in little puffs of laughter.)
In short, we think history is old-school.
So when something happens that does seem connected with all that old history … well, let's just say we prefer to focus on a missing airliner in Malaysia. Now that's the kind of random-ass, disconnected current event that we can get our minds around!
We need to wake up, grow up, read up and man up—and realize that Russia is indeed taking over part of another sovereign nation and that we're either going to do something about it or we're not, and there are consequences in either case. Historical consequences.
Yeah, man. Like, history history.