Events

Thursday, June 17, 2010

17 June 1775: Bunker Hill; winners and losers

What a nice feeling it is when everything comes together serendipitously. And the essay or the web and the world of the hyperlink is often the perfect venue for the kind of lateral thinking that perhaps originated with Montaigne.(What couldn't he have done with a blog?)

I recently spoke of modern war being fought more than ever as a battle of perceptions, though I noted that the phenomenon is of course much older.  As chance would have it, this week brought two perfect illustrations, one old, and one new—and fate moreover conspired to conjoin them.

Most of us here were thrilled when Team USA pulled off a tie against the vaunted English in early World Cup action. We had been told we'd never get this far.  Naturally, the New York Post could not contain its pride:


The headline caused quite a stir, and some of our English friends took umbrage at it.

Actually, I thought the notorious Post (not unlike the Sun, though a cut or two above that) got things more or less right here:  They just had to be triumphalist somehow, knew it was no outright victory but could nonetheless count as one, and picked the proper historical reference.  They knew that the famous Battle of Bunker Hill was not a military success.  I rather doubt that many students or even the average adult would know that.

Far from operating out of jingoism and iignorance (as some outraged commentators charged), the writers at the Post moreover displayed (I think) a nice sense of self-deprecating humor; they could use a bit more of that.

The timing was actually fortuitously good, if not perfect, for the match came less than a week before the anniversary of the Battle.


For those of you in need of a little refresher, here's last year's post.

Everything's relative, right? I mean, if Dunkirk can count as a major success (only because it wasn't a total disaster), then why not Bunker Hill and a 1-1 World Cup Tie?

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