Monday, April 17, 2017

Alternative origins: The American Revolutionary War, Independence Day and Mount Rushmore

With yesterday being Easter, if you were on any of your social media platforms instead of going to church and/or hiding/finding stray eggs, you may have come across this meme:
"Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols (like the egg and bunny) were and still are fertility and sex symbols (or did you actually think eggs and bunnies had anything to do with the resurrection?) After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus. But at its roots, Easter (which is how you pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and sex."
Because if there's anything people love more than posting memes about how you should believe one thing, it's posting memes about those other memes being a bunch of nonsense. It would appear that in terms of this particular meme, the people behind it aren't as factually accurate as they'd like to believe.

The point of bringing this up isn't to take a side but rather to illustrate that alternative origins, be they true or false, do exist. And often, their very existence causes confusion and maybe even hard feelings. With that in mind, we're going to offer up some alternative origin stories for the sake of giving you something to think about, if not challenge your firmly held beliefs.

Independence Day (July 4) is the next big whopper of a holiday celebrated in America (no offense, Cinco De Mayo enthusiasts and people who live elsewhere), so I'm going to cover this one.

The American Revolution, also called the United States War of Independence or American Revolutionary War, (1775–83), was an insurrection by which 13 of Great Britain's North American colonies won political independence and went on to form the United States of America.

So what does that have to do with fireworks displays and grilled meat? Well, here's...
One day in 1775, George Washington was complaining about the high taxes on tea and said, "We could probably do a better job of running this place as our own country and not as some kind of remote branch office." Paul Revere said, "That's a good idea. I'll ride my horse over to England and see if they're cool with it." When he got back later that day, he said, "They're totally down. They're getting tired of trying to manage a property so far away so they were happy to hear about it. We can be our own country!" Washington couldn't believe it was that easy. "I can't believe it! It was that easy?", he asked and Revere said, "Yep! They already filed the paperwork and everything." Washington said, "Huh. I was kinda expecting some pushback. We didn't even run this by the citizens, some of whom may not think it's a great idea." Thomas Jefferson, who was there too, said "Then let's tell them we're having a war about it and that England is trying to push us around without representation." Washington replied, "Oh gosh, I don't want to fight a war with England. I have people who still live there." Jefferson said, "No, not an actual war with muskets and cannon balls and stuff. We'll just tell the people we're having one. It's not like they'd know. We don't even have newspapers yet!" That's when Ben Franklin, who was also there, said, "I think it would be a good idea if we had some newspapers, though. I'm going to start that." Jefferson said, "For the sake of what we're trying to do here, I kinda wish you wouldn't." Franklin said, "Oh, don't worry. I'll skew the coverage of 'the war' so it makes us look good... but just this once!" Jefferson said, "I appreciate that, Benjamin" and Franklin replied, "I got you, fam." Washington said, "Great! It's settled! You guys come over to my place on Saturday. I have some illegal fireworks from Korea (don't even ask how I got them! HA HA!) that we can set off and tell everybody it's bombs bursting in air and whatnot." Jefferson said, "I'll bring some burgers and dogs to throw on the grill. We can bring the slaves and kids and make a day of it!" Paul Revere said, "You mean, wives and kids?" and Jefferson replied, "Sure, whatever."

And that's why those four guys are on Mount Rushmore

My esteemed colleagues will present other alternative origins later this week!

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