By Billy Liggett
If you set aside, for just a moment, that decade’s rampant sexism, segregation, racism and polio epidemics … then, yes, the 1940s were a great time to be an American. We saved the world by beating the Axis powers, our war-time and post-war economies thrived and, without a doubt, fashion in the U.S. was at its peak (this isn’t up for debate).
In fact, many of your red MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporters will point to this era when referring to the America they want to make “great again.” The men and women of this time earned their title of the Greatest Generation (again, ignore all that bad stuff … the Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow … these are rose, white and blue-colored glasses we’re looking through here).
The word that defined that generation is “sacrifice” — whether you’re talking about the 16 million Americans who served (roughly 11 percent of the population at the time), the 407,000 who died in the war or the millions who sacrificed their livelihoods on the homefront to “help the cause.”
It’s that latter group that holds relevance to what we’re going through today. Consider the abrupt change in the way Americans lived their lives the moment the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor:
They were asked to ration. Everything. Sugar, milk, butter, gas, meat, rubber, fuel, firewood, shoes, nylon … even coffee. Taxes skyrocketed — before the war, 7 percent of Americans paid an income tax; that number rose to 64 percent by 1944. Those who made more than $200,000 a year were subject to a 94-percent tax rate (President Roosevelt famously said that at a time of “grave national danger, no citizen ought to have a net income of more than $25,000 a year.”)
There was dissension, of course. But for the most part, Americans supported the cause. There was honor in their sacrifices — not only were they rationing and taking pay cuts for their boys overseas, they were doing it for the “greater good.”
World War II lasted four years.
We’re entering the third month of a global pandemic.
So much was asked of them.
So little has been asked of us.
Stay home. Wash your hands. Maybe wear a mask when going out for the “essentials.” Take a break from your sporting events, concerts and movie theaters. If you’re fortunate to have a “non-essential” job, do it from home.
Sacrifice some of the freedoms we’ve enjoyed for 243 years so there’s less of a chance of contracting and spreading a potentially deadly, highly contagious virus. Heed the advice of highly trained health care and public health doctors and officials. Listen to the scientists when it comes to science.
This is what’s been asked of us. And, yet.
The most vocal of our modern day dissenters are many of the aforementioned red hats who are yelling in the face of science (literally) and gathering en masse in cities across the country, demanding the economy “reopen” at the expense of “the weak.” (Sacrifice the weak is a real poster seen at some of these events). That they caved so soon, so angrily and so ill-informed is embarrassing.
Easy for me to say, right? I haven’t lost my job. I’ve had the luxury of working from home these past seven weeks. I live with people I enjoy being around.
But I know people who’ve lost work and wages, yet understand this is a sacrifice. I also know people in the health care industry — some of them working in cities hardest hit by COVID-19. I believe them when they say our “stay home” orders have helped, despite more than a million cases in the U.S. and nearly 60,000 deaths as I write this.
I’m not a “patriot” for supporting this fight.
And you’re sure the hell not a patriot for resisting it.
Billy Liggett is a co-founder of The Rant. Tell him your well-researched hoax theories by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.