12/13 The Myth of the “Good War” w/ Elizabeth Samet

December 13, 2021

Sam and Emma host Elizabeth Samet, professor of English at West Point, to discuss her recent book Looking for the Good War: American Amnesia and the Violent Pursuit of Happiness, on the mythology behind the Americanized narrative of WWII, how it came to prevalence, and the role Tom Brokaw and Stephen Spielberg have to play. Professor Samet walks through the six myths she identifies throughout U.S. history, with the first – that the U.S. could not wait any longer to liberate the world from the growing threat of fascism and tyranny – starting to be manufactured as soon as the U.S. got its foot into the war, as she, Emma, and Sam dive into the isolationist nature of the US in the first few decades of the 20th Century, and the existing documents and pamphlets for soldiers attempting to revise this history to bolster their faith in the effort. Next, they look at the creation of a narrative of complete unity around this war effort in the wake of wars in the second half of the century, like Vietnam, which created division between the public and the military, which, along with a narrative exaggerating the sacrifices on our home front, worked to paint a picture of the Greatest Generation and their war as a collective American effort. They also cover the birth of the narratives of the U.S. as a liberator whose military will be greeted with open arms, which we would see repeated countless more times, most notably in the Iraq war, and the idea that this, like all U.S. wars, had a happy ending. This, at last, brings them to how these narratives were ultimately woven together, to create the final myth, which is that all of these narratives have been accepted and true since the beginning of the war. They explore how the baby boomer generation, through the works of Stephen Ambrose, Tom Brokaw, and Stephen Spielberg, among many others, revised and unified the narrative of their parents’ generation to help a country whose confidence has been shaken to regain an earlier luster. They wrap up the interview by looking at the film noir cliché around WWII and its veterans, as well as looking at the current state of public opinion on our veterans, and how it maintains a bit of a contradiction on how we want to think about them. Sam and Emma also discuss the devastation of the tornado in Kentucky, its role as one more “once in a generation event” that’s occurred this year, and the hypocrisy of libertarian ideology.

And in the Fun Half: Emma and Sam dive into the announcement by the Biden admin that they would resume student debt collection, and the absurdity of a country that attempts to make a profit off of an educated populace, while Chris from Austin calls in to talk health policy, both federal and personal. They also look at Stuart Varney’s coverage of the destruction of Seattle by a single city council member – Kshama Sawant – who helped bring about a $15 minimum wage, before moving onto the U.K. Court’s decision regarding Julian Assange’s extradition to the U.S., and contrast how it has been reported, from Joe Scarborough to Mehdi Hasan, before looking at Crowder capitalizing on the incredible masculinity he perceives emanating from Kyle Rittenhouse, and hearing Dan the Objectivist return to discuss how threats to well being aren’t coercion, plus, your calls and IMs!

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