Bear with me. A few days back, the blog Gusts of Popular Feeling ran a post The General Sherman Sails Again, that told the story of a US war ship converted to a merchant trader (the namesake of the post), that was sunk in North Korea's Taedonggang River in Pyongyang in 1866, with the loss of all on board.
Current (revisionist to the max) NoKo history marks the start of modern (oxymoron, anyone?) history to the event, and says Li'l Kim's great-granddaddy led the mob that attacked the ship (although that's probably fabricated).
Gusts of Popular Feeling was moved to re-tell this pretty much forgotten story because the cap of Taedonggang Beer supposedly bears the image of the General Sherman, causing the author to ask:
Does Taedonggang have the honor of being the world's only anti-American beer?Honor?! Sheesh.
Move forward three days to today, when Andrew Leonard, author of Salon's How the World Works Column, captured this little tale to launch a screed about imperialist America and its many sins. He starts with the history, which is more interesting than the thinking of his brain:
But then... While digging around for more details on the General Sherman, I found "The Opening of Korea by Commodore Shufeldt," published in Political Science Quarterly in 1910, in which author Charles Oscar Paullin tells the tale of how Korea was forced out of its cave and into the family of nations. The opening few pages recount the aftermath of the General Sherman incident -- in 1871, Rear-Admiral John Rodgers and the American minister to China, Frederick Low, led "a flotilla of five steamships, carrying 85 guns and 1235 men" for the purpose of establishing "peaceful relations with Korea."And he concludes with ... brace yourself for the inevitable foul stench of America-hatred:On June 1 a flotilla from the fleet, while engaged in surveying the river, was unexpectedly fired upon by a Korean fort. The fire of the natives was returned, and a fight took place in which the Americans lost two wounded and the Koreans twenty wounded and many more killed. After a careful consideration of this incident, Low and Rodgers decided that the prestige of the United States would be impaired unless the injury to its flag were avenged or an apology tendered by the Korean government. Through one of his secretaries Low explained to an officer of the local prefecture that sufficient time would be allowed for an apology before any further steps were taken. While deeply regretting the firing on the flotilla, the officer defended the action of the forts, on the grounds that the Korean laws prohibited foreigners to pass a barrier of defense. He sent a present of chickens, bullocks and eggs to Rodgers, who declined to accept it.The king refused to apologize.It is sufficient to say that the Americans performed their allotted task with great thoroughness. Five forts were captured or destroyed; fifty flags and four hundred and eighty-one pieces of ordnance were taken, and twenty Koreans were made prisoners. In the principal engagement the loss of the natives were three hundred and fifty men killed and wounded, more than half of them being killed; the loss of the Americans was three killed and ten wounded...
Is the term "imperialist robbers" too strong to describe such behavior? Maybe not. And as a reminder that the terms of trade agreements between nations often depends on who owns the biggest battleships, even a beer bottle-cap can be effective.America the imperialist ... worked then, works now, right? Forget that we don't have colonies ... doesn't matter. Forget that trade agreements lift up the nations we make them with, improving lives, not enslaving them ... doesn't matter, either.
Well, besides the obvious historical and political errors in Leonard's analysis, there's this little problem:
Here's the now-notorious beer cap:
And here's a NoKo stamp showing a bridge across the Taedonggang River:
Oops. We've got a flawed launching point for the screed -- it's a bridge not a boat. But that's not what makes the screed flawed. Leonard and his lefties will go back in time -- to the Crusades if necessary -- to find a way to paint a dreary, evil picture of America, while ignoring all the good we do today.
Is NoKo a better place for standing up to America? Would the people -- the people, who are supposed to be the concern of the left -- be living longer, healthier, happier lives if Li'l Kim and his father had stopped being Commie-dictators and tried to do for their people what America tries to do for the people for the world?
Don't bother the Left with such questions; let them see bridges as Yankee ships, terrorists as insurgents, and progress as anti-Progressive.