ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » History, Literature, and the Arts
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags daily mail , World War II history

Reply
Old 20th April 2012, 07:48 PM   #1
Giz
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,252
EU redefines WW2 as a European Civil War?

Is this for real, or is the Daily Mail being economical with the truth?

Quoth:
-------
Today we learn that the European Union (our real ruler) is opening a £44m museum that will be a House of European History. This vanity project in and of itself is an offensive waste of money as governments and peoples tighten belts across Europe.

But what I found most offensive of all is that World War II is to be described as "the European Civil War".

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/ar...U-serious.html
-------

Has the "European Civil War" claim been taken out of context? Anyone got a non Daily Mail source?

I rather like Mark Steyn's comment: "If this were truly a “European Civil War”, it would have been over in nothing flat, because on the Continent of Europe every nation was either neutral, conquered, or on the wrong side. It’s hard to have a civil war with only one team. The only thing that makes it a “European” civil war at all is that, after the fall of France, one small island way out on the periphery off the continental shelf and its non-European empire declined to submit, and were eventually joined by its transatlantic ally.")
Giz is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th April 2012, 10:40 PM   #2
SusanB-M1
Incurable Optimist
 
SusanB-M1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,548
That really is an idea that should be dropped straight away. Does it say how far the project has got? i THINK IT IS SAFE TO SAY THAT THERE ARE ENOUGH GOOD HISTORIANS AND OTHERS WHO WILL ENSURE THAT THIS SORT OF STORY RECEIVES THE DERISION IT SHOULD HAVE, BOTH NOW AND IN THE FUTURE.
SusanB-M1 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th April 2012, 10:59 PM   #3
Wildy
Adelaidean
 
Wildy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,956
So far everything I've found regarding this "redefinition" all seems to link back to this DM story so I'd say that the Fail is either being economical with the truth or outright lying.
__________________
Wildy is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 01:27 AM   #4
Laeke
Critical Thinker
 
Laeke's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 443
The "European civil war" moniker is not new by any means. I just read it yesterday, attributed to De Gaulle by Pierre Clostermann in the preface of the 2000 edition of his famous Le Grand Cirque (Le Grand Cirque 2000 - Pierre Clostermann - Flammarion / J'ai Lu - p.15). No dates or details given, but it thus predates 1970 by all means.

It is also the name of a quite famous history book by Ernst Nolte, Der europäische Bürgerkrieg, 1917–1945 which defends the notion that the defining moment of European history in the last century was the russian Revolution and that the second world war should be viewed in this context. The Nolte thesis has been hugely controversial, as it sparked the Historikerstreit in 1986-87.

At face value and without any further details on the use of that expression, i'm not sure the outraged opinion of the Daily Mail is warranted: While it may not be a strict historical definition, the "European civil war" does encapsulate some important aspects of the context of the war (namely the whole spurring of new ideologies in Europe preceding it). I do not think it is an insult to the "USA, Australia, etc..." to say that Europeans ideologies/countries/actions played a defining role in that war (that does leave out, however, the Pacific theatre), and that Europe was perhaps the most transformed of places by its end. The article do mention that it is an "House of European History", after all, so viewing it through that lens is not so far-fetched. It is especially symbolic in the light of the idea that Europe do form a coherent and single entity, which you can argue was constructed and making its way at that point in history.

Of course if it turns out that the House of European History oversimplify the issues or do use "European civil war" as an end-all historical definition, I do not think I would approve of that.

Last edited by Laeke; 21st April 2012 at 01:41 AM.
Laeke is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 01:30 AM   #5
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 14,227
Well, even as wars go, I'd say it wasn't very civil
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 01:46 AM   #6
RationalVetMed
Graduate Poster
 
RationalVetMed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,467
Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Is this for real, or is the Daily Mail being economical with the truth?
I wouldn't believe anything the Daily Mail said - they write more fairy stories than Hans Christian Andersen.

Europe wasn't then and isn't now a nation so, even if the war had been limited to Europe it still couldn't have been a civil war. The countries of Europe have been fighting viscious wars with each other for ever, surely it's got to be the most war torn part of the planet?

Yuri
__________________
Visit rationalvetmed.net and rationalvetmed.org - because nothing is as good as homeopathy...

'No Way to Treat a Friend: Lifting the Lid on Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine' book now available to order.
RationalVetMed is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 01:59 AM   #7
keyfeatures
Critical Thinker
 
keyfeatures's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 436
All war is a civil war.

This doesn't seem any more ridiculous than the label "American Civil War". Who decides where the borders are / were?

Last edited by keyfeatures; 21st April 2012 at 02:01 AM.
keyfeatures is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 02:27 AM   #8
MarkCorrigan
Winter is Coming
 
MarkCorrigan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,519
The Daily Mail lying through their teeth to try and make Europe look bad? Say it 'aint so!

Of course it's bollocks. It's just as much bollocks as all the "New EU regulations" they harp on about as PC gone mad that either don't exist at all or are limited to one school/council/building almost always in the UK.

Anyone who reads the Mail for news is an idiot.
__________________
Naturalism adjusts it's principles to fit with the observed data.
It's a god of the facts world view. -joobz

Now I lay me down to sleep, a bag of peanuts at my feet.
If I die before I wake, give them to my brother Jake.
MarkCorrigan is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 02:51 AM   #9
Captain_Swoop
Penultimate Amazing
 
Captain_Swoop's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 17,795
^^^ what he says.

If I used the Mail as toilet paper I would feel dirtier than before I wiped.
Captain_Swoop is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 04:30 AM   #10
Big Les
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 5,028
Originally Posted by keyfeatures View Post
All war is a civil war.

This doesn't seem any more ridiculous than the label "American Civil War". Who decides where the borders are / were?
It's pretty straightforward. The US was a nation state, therefore it was a civil war. Likewise England c1642. 'Europe' certainly wasn't one, and as in large part it involved countries outside Europe, the label is absurd, and frankly offensive. Which of course is why the Daily Mail want you to think it's on the cards.
Big Les is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 04:47 AM   #11
Big Les
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 5,028
Can't find anything on this, and the Mail 'article' contains no reference whatever (of course).

A site-delimited search of the EU site shows only one result for idea that WW2 can be seen as a European civil war (which in a narrow context of course it *can*), and well over a dozen results for 'Second World War'.

I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't an outright lie. There's a whole website and forum dedicated to pointing these out - mailwatch.co.uk
Big Les is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 05:09 AM   #12
Laeke
Critical Thinker
 
Laeke's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 443
Originally Posted by Big Les View Post
A site-delimited search of the EU site shows only one result for idea that WW2 can be seen as a European civil war (which in a narrow context of course it *can*), and well over a dozen results for 'Second World War'.
I do not think there is much more to it than that. Maybe the expression "European Civil War" is wrote somewhere in the actual project, as a passing mention: merely a possible perspective for studying and reading the specific topic of the european war theater (or the dynamic behind some of the actions initiated by the european countries in several theaters of WW2). As I said earlier, the expression (and the general idea conveyed) itself is nothing new: WW2 certainly did change the face of Europe, and arguably, did prop the European political project forward.

The expression itself may not be neutral (Nolte's book, etc...) but the article is so vague and short on the issue that concluding on the nefarious afterthoughts of the UE seems cavalier...

Last edited by Laeke; 21st April 2012 at 05:33 AM.
Laeke is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 05:18 AM   #13
SpitfireIX
Illuminator
 
SpitfireIX's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA
Posts: 4,486
Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia Eurasia.
__________________
Handy responses to conspiracy theorists' claims:
1) "I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." --Charles Babbage
2) "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong." --Wolfgang Pauli
3) "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." --Inigo Montoya

Last edited by SpitfireIX; 21st April 2012 at 05:20 AM. Reason: Correct vile disinformation from agents of Emmanuel Goldstein
SpitfireIX is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 06:27 AM   #14
keyfeatures
Critical Thinker
 
keyfeatures's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 436
Originally Posted by Big Les View Post
It's pretty straightforward. The US was a nation state, therefore it was a civil war. Likewise England c1642. 'Europe' certainly wasn't one, and as in large part it involved countries outside Europe, the label is absurd, and frankly offensive. Which of course is why the Daily Mail want you to think it's on the cards.
Wasn't the issue that one side didn't consider it to be one nation state, but rather two - with the C.S.A. and its government as a separate nation? Obviously, history rewrites the past. Had the war turned out differently, history would always have considered C.S.A. as a separate nation that just happened to have been governed by an oppressor in the past. Same goes for United Kingdom regarding Scotland or N.I. Nation-states are inventions.
keyfeatures is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 06:34 AM   #15
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by keyfeatures View Post
Wasn't the issue that one side didn't consider it to be one nation state, but rather two - with the C.S.A. and its government as a separate nation? Obviously, history rewrites the past. Had the war turned out differently, history would always have considered C.S.A. as a separate nation that just happened to have been governed by an oppressor in the past. Same goes for United Kingdom regarding Scotland or N.I. Nation-states are inventions.
IIRC, the Confederate States thought of each as being a separate entity, loosely bound to the CSA and free to leave it if they desired. And I do believe it would have been a "war of independence" if the South had won.


Oh, and it's "The War of Northern Aggression", not "The Civil War".

As for the OP, that ECW idea will never fly. It is called a "World War" for a reason.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 06:42 AM   #16
Lamuella
Master Poster
 
Lamuella's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,480
Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Is this for real, or is the Daily Mail being economical with the truth?
The answer to this question is always that the Mail is being economical with the truth.
Lamuella is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 06:47 AM   #17
dafydd
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 35,398
Originally Posted by Lamuella View Post
The answer to this question is always that the Mail is being economical with the truth.
The Daily Mail is a comic for narrow-minded, right-wing bigots.
dafydd is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 06:55 AM   #18
Cleon
King of the Pod People
 
Cleon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 25,659
Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
The Daily Mail is a comic for narrow-minded, right-wing bigots.
That's not entirely fair. It can be quite comical to the rest of us, too.
__________________
"People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz." - Newt Gingrich
Cleon is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 10:30 AM   #19
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 23,872
Quote:
That's right: a European Civil War that saws [sic] millions fight and die in theatres around the world in places as diverse as Tobruk, Pearl Harbour [sic] and the Burma Railway.
The European Civil War that saws millions?

Try reading better newspapers. The Daily Mail itself surpasses you in misreading something and going into a moral tizzy about it but that isn't a compliment to the Mail.
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 10:51 AM   #20
SonOfLaertes
Muse
 
SonOfLaertes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 926
Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
...
and that Europe was perhaps the most transformed of places by its end.
Try arguing that point with the Japanese.

Or with the Chinese, for that matter.

And the U.S., where the military went from a somewhat neglected stepchild to an arranged marriage with industry. My pacifist grandfather always said that WWII changed the essential character of America forever.
__________________
Best concise summary of Intelligent Design's never-changing key argument: “ the improbability of assembly of functional sequence all at once from scratch by brute chance” (Nick Matske, Panda's Thumb).
SonOfLaertes is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 11:01 AM   #21
angrysoba
Philosophile
 
angrysoba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Osaka, Japan
Posts: 23,872
Originally Posted by SonOfLaertes View Post
Try arguing that point with the Japanese.
You can try but most Japanese have no interest in arguing about it at all and almost anyone under 50 has very little understanding of the war.

In fact, I would advise not to argue that point.

Quote:
Or with the Chinese, for that matter.
Well, the Chinese will argue that the Japanese brutally occupied their country. This is true enough but China's history is one of lots of massacres. I think the Japanese were just continuing in that tradition.

Quote:
And the U.S., where the military went from a somewhat neglected stepchild to an arranged marriage with industry. My pacifist grandfather always said that WWII changed the essential character of America forever.
It's possible that it had something to do with it but I think the Korean War might have been far more instrumental in that as the US had gone into a massive post-WWII demobilization. It was the Korean War which began the US's Cold War policy of having a large standing army and masses of military material. Or so I have heard.
angrysoba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 11:06 AM   #22
Big Les
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 5,028
Originally Posted by keyfeatures View Post
Wasn't the issue that one side didn't consider it to be one nation state, but rather two - with the C.S.A. and its government as a separate nation? Obviously, history rewrites the past. Had the war turned out differently, history would always have considered C.S.A. as a separate nation that just happened to have been governed by an oppressor in the past. Same goes for United Kingdom regarding Scotland or N.I. Nation-states are inventions.
Of course they are. But at the time of the conflict, it was one nation.

Beyond that, a civil war implies at the least a conflict between neighbours - WW2 involved multiple, geographically distinct entities. Whilst in terms of the history of modern Europe it can be viewed in terms of a civil war, it wasn't one by any meaningful definition beyond that.
Big Les is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 11:14 AM   #23
I Ratant
Penultimate Amazing
 
I Ratant's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 19,258
Originally Posted by Big Les View Post
It's pretty straightforward. The US was a nation state, therefore it was a civil war. Likewise England c1642. 'Europe' certainly wasn't one, and as in large part it involved countries outside Europe, the label is absurd, and frankly offensive. Which of course is why the Daily Mail want you to think it's on the cards.
.
The ACW was conducted mostly in-country, with the Confederates doing some commerce raiding around the world.
A "European Civil War" fails just on the scope of the event, which involved nations around the world in that patch of ground.
I Ratant is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 11:37 AM   #24
Laeke
Critical Thinker
 
Laeke's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 443
Originally Posted by SonOfLaertes View Post
Try arguing that point with the Japanese.

Or with the Chinese, for that matter.

And the U.S., where the military went from a somewhat neglected stepchild to an arranged marriage with industry. My pacifist grandfather always said that WWII changed the essential character of America forever.
True, I was maybe a bit hasty and hyperbolic there. I think my second message in the thread is perhaps a more reasonable argument of what I tried to say: that it could be an interesting perspective to analyze the European theater, which of course is only a subset (although quite an important one) of the whole war which affected deeply several major parts of the world. And that while one must always keep in mind the big picture, such "compartmentalized" studies could also have merit and enrich our comprehension of the event and history at large.

My apologies if my first message came through as underplaying the ferocity of the war outside Europe, it was not my intention.

My main point: I think the Daily Mail is distorting the issue and the meaning of the expression to turn them into a strawman and score some points against the EU.

Last edited by Laeke; 21st April 2012 at 11:54 AM.
Laeke is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 12:09 PM   #25
zooterkin
Nitpicking dilettante
Deputy Admin
 
zooterkin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Berkshire, mostly
Posts: 41,368
Originally Posted by SonOfLaertes View Post
And the U.S., where the military went from a somewhat neglected stepchild to an arranged marriage with industry. My pacifist grandfather always said that WWII changed the essential character of America forever.
Going further off topic, but I believe it's also arguable that WWII was a factor in sparking the equal rights movement, with black soldiers returning home after having experienced normal treatment in Europe. (For example, in Portsmouth the locals refused to allow the US military police to enforce a colour bar in the pubs.)
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.Bertrand Russell
Zooterkin is correct Darat
Nerd! Hokulele
Join the JREF Folders ! Team 13232
Ezekiel 23:20
zooterkin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 01:24 PM   #26
Beerina
Sarcastic Conqueror of Notions
 
Beerina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 29,283
Originally Posted by keyfeatures View Post
All war is a civil war.

This doesn't seem any more ridiculous than the label "American Civil War". Who decides where the borders are / were?
How do you define "ridiculous"?

The US was a well-defined, politically united organization of states. Half wanted to leave for various reasons, but they all had to do with digging out from under the heel of the federal government.


In Europe, this was an offensive invasion of other nations not to drive them away, or force a capitulation.

It was an aggressive war of expansion, not one attempting to force a split or an overthrow.
__________________
"Great innovations should not be forced [by way of] slender majorities." - Thomas Jefferson

The government should nationalize it! Socialized, single-payer video game development and sales now! More, cheaper, better games, right? Right?
Beerina is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 03:20 PM   #27
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Going further off topic, but I believe it's also arguable that WWII was a factor in sparking the equal rights movement, with black soldiers returning home after having experienced normal treatment in Europe. (For example, in Portsmouth the locals refused to allow the US military police to enforce a colour bar in the pubs.)
Plus the GI Bill gave more chances to go to college. Segregated colleges in some, nay most, places, but still a chance.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st April 2012, 07:08 PM   #28
A Lurker
Thinker
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 172
Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Going further off topic, but I believe it's also arguable that WWII was a factor in sparking the equal rights movement, with black soldiers returning home after having experienced normal treatment in Europe. (For example, in Portsmouth the locals refused to allow the US military police to enforce a colour bar in the pubs.)
I haven't posted for a while here, or anywhere much because I've come to find online debate can be maddening, and degrading to the quality of intellectual life with the way it's dominated by the usual extremist voices.

But in this case, I wanted to add a personal anecdote that I believe is relevant, because it's a story I've been told for which the eye witness will not be with us for long, but I'd like to think it won't be forgotten, just as she's carried almost to her hundredth year now.

I currently live in Bristol, United Kingdom. During the Second World War it was blitzed heavily by the Luftwaffe due to being a major port, manufacturer of aero-engines (of "Bristol" name of course) and a transit hub for troop movements; including American troops later on.

Now, at a day care centre for the elderly I had been volunteering at over the years, I met a local lady called Rose; she's lived in the area all her life. And every now and then she'd re-tell me a story of two American troops she met, a few months before the D-Day landings. I paraphrase from memory, but she was in one of the local Churches during a Sunday service with her children, where US Troops were also attending; and all through it her two infant children kept staring at two dark skinned troops in particular. After the service they ran up and stood in front of them and stared right at them, and asked why they were so black? "Had they fallen in the coal scuttle?" was one of their questions! Rose heard this and grabbed them by the ear and told them to "Apologise to these nice gentlemen at once!" As she tells it now, one of the troops response was "It's ok Ma'am, I know they didn't know better. But listen kids, do you see that piano they used during the service? Well, it's got white keys and it's got black keys, but you can't play the piano without the black keys too." And then they smiled and gave her children a dollar each, a lot of money at that time in wartime Bristol.

It's a cliche phrase now I imagine, but it stayed with her through 70 more years, and she talked at least once a week about those two GIs, whilst I nodded and pretended the story was new to me every time... but every time the goodness of the story itself would shine through.

Now... I won't pretend there wasn't then, and isn't now a lot of shocking racism within the United Kingdom. But, roughly from the end of Slavery towards the arrival of the Windrush generation as a horrible generalization, it wasn't socially acceptable to express outright racism at home. The National Character, or Myth if we're being truly honest, was that Britains were a colour blind, liberal, tolerant people. They just also happened to firmly believe people were genuinely divided by Class instead. But at least all Classes could roughly agree fascists and those damned colonial types were oafs about Race, what? A little quote from Wodehouse for instance;

Quote:
The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting "Heil, Spode!" and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: "Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?"
—P. G. Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster in The Code of the Woosters (1938)
Before I go on to qualify this, let me just make the next point; this is where the Daily Mail, and Mark Steyn reveal their horrendous historical ignorance, an ignorance fed by their own ideological prejudices. Both wish to claim the mantle of the "Greatest Generation" of Britains. Yet both were and are on entirely the opposite side of the debate at that time.

The Daily Mail of course famously ran the front page headline "Hurrah For The Blackshirts!" with regards to Oswald Mosley's actions in London;

http://www.voiceoftheturtle.org/dict..._h1.php#hurrah

And it's owner, Lord Rothmere said in 1933;

Quote:
The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing on Germany
The Mail was on the side of the Spodes of the world. But that was decades ago, and it's a different newspaper now, yes? Not by much, as other posters have amply shown. Mailwatch should be an eye opener for anyone who isn't already poisoned by that kind of ideology.

As for Mark Steyn, well; simply google his own views on immigration to see just how very less likely he is to have a heart warming report on experiencing people from a different ethnic background turning up in his Church...

Ad hominem? Not really, just a simple stepping stone to the next point I wanted to make; the laughably simplistic and confused idea that "on the Continent of Europe every nation was either neutral, conquered, or on the wrong side." is but the most shoddy inaccurate description of Europe at that time too, applied for nothing more than attempting to lay claim to being of the "Greatest Generation", without having the slightest understanding of what it meant to live in that generation. And it just wasn't that simple then.

You see, it's only within self serving national narratives that the whole question of even the basic dates of the Second World War are certain. It's traditionally counted from 1939 to 1945, but this ignores the earlier Japanese actions in Manchuria, their clashes with the Russians... and more importantly it also ignores the decades of building tensions within Europe, and specifically Europe, that led up to it.

For instance, consider the Spanish Civil War, and the involvement of International Brigades from all over Europe fighting for the Republic, and of course the Condor Legions and various other fascist groups fighting on the other side. You have direct warfare between British and German citizens on mainland Europe as early as 1936, but they fought not for countries as such, not even really for or against the Spanish state, but for wider ideologies, in what they thought was going to be a battle for the soul of Europe as a whole.

The same can be said of the even earlier Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War after 1917. The First World War was clearly based around the concept of National self interest, bloodily dragging on for so long because the only clear victory condition was to actually win; but the landings at Archangelsk to invade their former ally just a few months before, whilst justified with the same idea at first, (to avoid the Germans taking Russian arms and thus endangering the Allies), very clearly became a war against Bolshevism in Europe, because there was no more Eastern Front to re-open after 1918. And continued to be fought between Shirts of all colours on the streets of Europe beyond that. And after the Second World War officially ended, the Cold War would emerge from a similar sense that this was there was still an existential question about the whole Continent; would it be Communist or Democratic?

And it ignores the complexities of Neutrality even; consider Ireland say; it took this path in part to help assert it's independence as a Sovereign state, independent in particular of the United Kingdom... It was a very Republican neutrality above all else. And yet in a Europe divided by the coming storm, it was more than that too. As De Valera stated on February 20th 1939 to the AP:

Quote:
The desire of the Irish people and the desire of the Irish Government is to keep our nation out of war. The aim of Government policy is to maintain and to preserve our neutrality in the event of war. The best way and the only way to secure our aim is to put ourselves in the best position possible to defend ourselves so that no one can hope to attack us or violate our territory with impunity. We know, of course, that should attack come from a power other than Great Britain, Great Britain in her own interest must help us to repel it.
It was not, in any sense then, a "neutral neutrality" but a very definite engagement in the wider debate about the future of Europe, that of a collective responsibility of small nations to safeguard their political independence at all costs. And this wasn't an idle question, quite apart from the deaths of many of the Irish Merchant Marine sunk by both sides; During the "Emergency" Irish forces were actively involved in repressing the IRA who hoped to use German influence and even troops to force the Irish state to take a side against Britain ... but also the Dail had to pass the Emergency Powers (No. 362) Act to prosecute the estimated 4-7,000 Irish service people who deserted their own nation in order to sign up and serve with one of the belligerents instead, mostly the United Kingdom.

And it's these complicating factors, which I can only basically touch upon and sketch here, which allow at least the vague idea of a "European Civil War" to be a valid historical phrasing of events; it's simply pointing out the clear growth in international politics during that time of the idea that there was a wider "European House" as it were, and with the rise of understanding of inter-connectivity, that people at all levels of society were very, very aware that the "House" then was divided... but that there was also an understanding that with something greater than the Nation state at stake, and it could call upon any individual at any moment and ask them what they will do for the future of people across the continent... That the main actors were Nation states was to be expected. But the main issues, even the main shape of the war itself, such as Operation Barbarossa, came from far wider issues.

... and it's that sentiment which is the real sin in the eyes of the Mail Steyn's of this world. Oh, they like the concept of Universalism, or European Identity... but only as long as they can imagine it shares the same narrow, nationalist, bigoted boundaries of belief they think are the hall mark of their own ethnic self identification; even when used negatively, such as to explain why Europe as a whole is doomed to become Islamic, and only America will survive because it doesn't have that European, "dhimmi" identity. (Cf: "America Alone" by Steyn); they want to be Orwell and Hemmingway, addressing huge themes, but without the any of the complexity or accuracy in their work in turn; they want lay claim to being International Brigaders without the actual Internationalism that defined it... and thus they hate the EU and this proposed museum, because by asking whether we can look at the past in a more complex, less nation-state based way, they are asking people to look at the past, and damn it we were hiding our prejudices back there!

But if you do look, even though the past recedes further each year, and the people who witnessed it slowly fade away... no, they really weren't that simple back then. You have to go a lot further back in our history to find a time when everyone's vision was that simple. Perhaps even back to our being a different species...

Anyway, just my comments. Sorry to interupt.
A Lurker is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 02:20 AM   #29
Laeke
Critical Thinker
 
Laeke's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 443
Nominated.

I guess in the end the idea of an "European Civil War" sort of segways in the "WWI and WWII are one war, as far as Europe is concerned" idea (that was discussed on this forum, I recall).
Laeke is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 02:46 AM   #30
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Just wondering if England was really so white in pre-WWII that the kids would never have seen a black person?
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 03:03 AM   #31
zooterkin
Nitpicking dilettante
Deputy Admin
 
zooterkin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Berkshire, mostly
Posts: 41,368
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Just wondering if England was really so white in pre-WWII that the kids would never have seen a black person?
Absolutely. I heard a very similar story recently, though I'm racking my brains to remember exactly where.

It is still the case that in some parts of Britain, it is very unusual to see anyone who isn't white, even after the influx from the Caribbean in the 50s, and other similar events. Immigrants tend to go to cities, where the work is and people they know may already be. Go to smaller towns or villages in the West Country, even today, and you might not see a single person who is not white.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.Bertrand Russell
Zooterkin is correct Darat
Nerd! Hokulele
Join the JREF Folders ! Team 13232
Ezekiel 23:20

Last edited by zooterkin; 22nd April 2012 at 03:05 AM.
zooterkin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 03:06 AM   #32
lionking
In the Peanut Gallery
 
lionking's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 42,482
Rommel would have been very surprised he was engaged in an European Civil War when in Northern Africa.
__________________
A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

Sir Winston Churchill
lionking is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 03:47 AM   #33
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Rommel would have been very surprised he was engaged in an European Civil War when in Northern Africa.
And the convolutions that would have created the Greater East-European Co-prosperity Sphere would have been fun to watch.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 05:59 AM   #34
Beerina
Sarcastic Conqueror of Notions
 
Beerina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 29,283
Originally Posted by Laeke View Post
Nominated.

I guess in the end the idea of an "European Civil War" sort of segways in the "WWI and WWII are one war, as far as Europe is concerned" idea (that was discussed on this forum, I recall).
Some have pointed out WW I, II, and the Cold War were really just one long, protracted conflict that started in 1914 and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which might very well not have existed but for WW I.
__________________
"Great innovations should not be forced [by way of] slender majorities." - Thomas Jefferson

The government should nationalize it! Socialized, single-payer video game development and sales now! More, cheaper, better games, right? Right?
Beerina is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 06:11 AM   #35
Beerina
Sarcastic Conqueror of Notions
 
Beerina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 29,283
Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Absolutely. I heard a very similar story recently, though I'm racking my brains to remember exactly where.

It is still the case that in some parts of Britain, it is very unusual to see anyone who isn't white, even after the influx from the Caribbean in the 50s, and other similar events. Immigrants tend to go to cities, where the work is and people they know may already be. Go to smaller towns or villages in the West Country, even today, and you might not see a single person who is not white.
It wasn't that long ago in the US, either.


With no TV, a lot of people would almost never see one. My grandmother related a tale of when my dad was very, very little. She took him on the bus downtown, and he saw a black guy and said, "Momma, he forgot to wash!"
__________________
"Great innovations should not be forced [by way of] slender majorities." - Thomas Jefferson

The government should nationalize it! Socialized, single-payer video game development and sales now! More, cheaper, better games, right? Right?
Beerina is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 06:13 AM   #36
Wildy
Adelaidean
 
Wildy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 10,956
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
And the convolutions that would have created the Greater East-European Co-prosperity Sphere would have been fun to watch.
That was part of the Asian Civil War.
__________________
Wildy is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 06:28 AM   #37
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by Wildy View Post
That was part of the Asian Civil War.
So when do we get to the Earthian Civil War?
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 07:05 AM   #38
A Lurker
Thinker
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 172
Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Absolutely. I heard a very similar story recently, though I'm racking my brains to remember exactly where.

It is still the case that in some parts of Britain, it is very unusual to see anyone who isn't white, even after the influx from the Caribbean in the 50s, and other similar events. Immigrants tend to go to cities, where the work is and people they know may already be. Go to smaller towns or villages in the West Country, even today, and you might not see a single person who is not white.
Britain traded in slaves, but didn't tend to keep them; it didn't need to, it had an Empire, with both land and indentured labour for that. It's one reason why we were able to have the luxury of feeling somewhat superior about Racial issues, because we didn't really have to face them... it was something Johnny Foreigner did.

Britain besides was on the post slave part of the Triangle; raw goods from the plantations would sail from the Americas to ports here, and be processed in our Industrial Revolution society instead, before sailing to Africa to be traded again at profit for slaves to return to America. Bristol in particular was involved in the Tobacco trade;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._D._%26_H._O._Wills

A few of the buildings remain, although manufacturing has now left the area. There are persistent local rumours that Blackboy Hill, and White Ladies road were names from the slave trade...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackboy_Hill,_Bristol

... in that White ladies would see the black boys being marched from barracks on the hill down to the docks. But this was never the case; for a start it would have meant sailing back from Africa to Britain, unloading and feeding them here for what purpose for a while, and then across the Atlantic to America again; almost doubling the sailing time, on a voyage that was already fatal for many of the poor souls aboard. Slavers were greedy and evil, but they weren't economically stupid.

Which is why I mentioned the Windrush generation; when you see the beginnings of the change towards a post-industrial society, and the increasing need of the British economy for low paid labour. It's only then that you get a concurrent awareness of, and then reaction against actually living with other people... The Mail and Steyn lay claim to a Great British Tradition but are a product of, and acceptable only because of a very historically recent, and context specific set of economic circumstances. They basically gaze into their own navel and declare "Why, I've found all the good in the universe in here!"

Quote:
Rommel would have been very surprised he was engaged in an European Civil War when in Northern Africa.
Were or were not the British crew of the British RMS Trent part of an American Civil War, when stopped by Captain Charles Wilkes in the Bahama Channel, many nautical miles and complex legal issues beyond the continent of America?

Did Frenchmen know they were fighting Frenchmen during World War 2, even in places that weren't France, like North Africa say?

Rommel may not have used the term "European Civil War" but are you going to suggest that he didn't know he was fighting European Empires there, on behalf of a nation that primarily wanted to secure Lebensraum in Europe?

What makes World War 2 a World war beyond this was that there were dozens of other belligerents involved on top, for all kinds of complex reasons... but it's a historical fact that this focus on it being a European question was one of the main reasons why it became a World War in the first place.

The Japanese had tried fighting against the Soviet Union in the late 1930s and quickly come to realise their Army would not make any easy gains by extending the Manchurian front. A front which had been opened, remember, from Japan's fighting on the Allied side in World War 1, as well as providing the majority of troops for the intervention in Russia's Civil War afterwards (around 70,000). However the realpolitik of world power in the 1930s had moved attention more favourably back towards the European and American worlds again, and had led to a developing sense of anger in Japan; exacerbated by the signing of the London Naval Treaty in 1930 which, in Japanese Militarist eyes, denied her the right to be consider an equal World Power, and was being forced upon them by a hostile United States.

However, as the European front developed, the United Kingdom had begun withdrawing it's Pacific naval forces in order to focus support the Battle of The Atlantic, which helped make striking south, using the so far unchallenged Japanese Navy, a far more attractive prospect than trying to tangle with the Soviet Union again... especially after studying intensely a particular European battle for their plans;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Taranto

Events in Europe then helped promised quick gains, and justified the military necessity of also striking against a nation they felt humiliated by too.

With hindsight, we can say it was clearly a ridiculous gamble, but at the time, it really did look like Britain could lose the Battle of The Atlantic. Certainly the British War Office was making secret plans with the Dail in Ireland for continuing the fight from the proposed "Rathduff" sites... that Irish independence again, eh?

So... did the pilots warming up their Zeros on those Japanese carriers as they approached Pearl Harbour that morning have only in their minds that they were about to start a nice simplistic war with just Michael Bay and his simplistic All American Team waiting there for them? Of course not, because they knew their colleagues would also be striking British targets at the same time. And they'd trained with British plans, with a particularly Militaristic interpretation of their own, and European and American supposed responses to, Japanese history and interests... yet as they rumbled off the deck, perhaps they indeed told themselves that the Old World was "weak", and now it was Japan's time.

So. Again, history is just not that simple. We make it so because we do so love our little narratives, especially during moments of high drama. What was Rommel doing in Africa, and the Japanese in Asia? The honest answer is; a lot of interconnected things.

Some of which, much as those on the militaristic right hate to admit it, are to do with a wider sense of identity, and yes, even a trans-national one! Which is one of the reasons why slavery originally became illegal in the UK, to bring the debate back to where we started it;

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h67.html

There's one of Wedgewood's original medallions in the slavery exhibition at Bristols M Shed museum at the moment. If people only cared about what they could see within their own national borders, would it ever have been addressed I wonder...?
A Lurker is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 07:51 AM   #39
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
So when do we get to the Earthian Civil War?
Just realized the Nomenclature Police would get me for that one. ECW could be European Civil War. So...

Terrestrial Civil War.

Does that work?
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2012, 11:31 AM   #40
Ryokan
Insert something funny here
 
Ryokan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Norway
Posts: 9,853
Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Rommel would have been very surprised he was engaged in an European Civil War when in Northern Africa.
Who was he fighting in Africa?
Ryokan is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » History, Literature, and the Arts

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:33 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.