I like to spice up my classroom presentations with appropriate cartoons. In my post yesterday, I mentioned some of my favorite comic/cartoon sources: “Peanuts,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” “Mallard Fillmore.” I failed to mention another one that deserves recognition—Gary Larson’s “The Far Side.”
Larson’s humor is often zany, but so much the better when he chooses to rewrite history. Now, normally I’m not a fan of revising history without solid evidence, but for the sake of humor, I can laugh along with certain comic revisions. It’s like being able to enjoy a National Treasure movie even though all of the history is pure bunk.
Sometimes Larson’s humor is subtle, and you have to know some of the history yourself to appreciate it. For instance, we know Manhattan Island was sold for what we now consider a mere pittance. Here’s how Larson envisions the native chief explaining that decision:
Then there’s Patrick Henry’s iconic “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. Larson imagines he practiced it first:
“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” cautioned an American officer at the Battle of Bunker Hill. That advice was not welcomed by one particular British soldier:
Then there is the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. Perhaps he crossed other things as well:
And haven’t you always heard of this famous expedition being called “Lewis and Clark,” never “Clark and Lewis”? If only Clark had listened to his mother:
No, Lincoln didn’t throw together his Gettysburg Address as a last-minute jotting on the train to Gettysburg, but if he had, he might have gotten some help with it:
Everyone’s heard of Custer’s Last Stand, but why do we focus on that one? His parents were probably more interested in this instead:
For the more literary among us, here’s a take on the problems that can overcome a writer:
And if you’re a military man not used to writing as much as someone of Poe’s stature, the wording may be even more difficult. Gen. Douglas MacArthur was looking for just the right words to inspire the Filipinos that he would one day come back and free the islands from the Japanese invaders:
I’m glad he came up with something better.
Hope you enjoyed this little foray into fractured history. In our day of cultural and political polarization, we need to be able to step back once in a while and simply smile.