Not Only Are They Idiots, They Think We Are Too.

Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.

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28 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Also German citizens cheered Chamberlin after the conference. They didn’t want a war either.Report

  2. James K says:

    I think what some Americans forget (though I don’t count you among them) is just how much Great Britain was hurt by World War I.

    Compare the casualties per capita for the UK and the US . Per capita, the UK suffered over 10 times as many deaths as the US. About one person in 50 in the UK died, and that toll was borne almost entirely by young men – the group an economy dependant on manual labour most relies on.

    At the time of the Munich conference, Great Britain was still recovering from the blow World War One had dealt it. Some people feared that a second Great War would bring down the British Empire, and those people were right because that’s exactly what happened. The US did pretty well out of the two World Wars – largely because it wasn’t as heavily involved in them as the European powers were. That has led some American hawks to conclude that wars make a country stronger when the reverse is more often true.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to James K says:

      What country in Europe wasn’t devastated? The continental powers (France, Germany, Austria-Hunagry) suffered even higher deaths per capita.Report

      • James K in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Right I didn’t mean to suggest that the UK’s damage was high relative to other European powers, just to the US. My point was merely that the UK’s war weariness was due to serious demographic and economic damage, something some American commentators (by which I don’t mean you, just to clarify) tend to overlook.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain managed to survive the First World War by no or little participation. They did feel some of the shocks caused by it but nothing as bad as the combatants.Report

  3. I wasn’t able to read Henninger’s piece because of the paywall, but taken in isolation, his statement seems more to reflect a case of pundititis, that disease that prompts hyper-educated authors to write milquetoast brain candy of the “when they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into” variety, and not so much trying to mislead people in thinking that people really forget how popular Camberlain’s compromise at Munich was.

    (I say that knowing nothing about Henninger. If he’s some right-wing wag or other type of ideologue, then maybe that informs how to read the point he’s making. But again, taken in isolation, his column seems less to reflect a view that his readers are idiots and more to reflect the view that he’s a sloppy writer.)

    All of this assumes that people today really know about Munich. I know commentators bring it up, but the proverbial average person on the street probably knows about Hitler, but not Munich or much of the lead up. I’ve even known people–college graduates–who weren’t sure which world war involved Hitler.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Technically, both World Wars involved Hitler. (and even more so, Churchill)Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Agreed that it takes a genuinely sloppy writer to use “But here’s the forgotten part.” and “for which history remembers him” in the same paragraph to describe the same event. But allowing him to get away with this of nonsense is appeasement, and you know where that leads.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      Hmm. If you Google a sentence or two from what I’ve quoted and then click on the result, that gets past the paywall (even though the result is the same URL. Interesting.)Report

      • I just tried it and it is interesting. When I googled, I got the full article, but when I clicked the link (this time for the second time) it hit the pay wall.Report

      • Now that I’ve read the article, a few observations:

        1. In context, the “but here’s the forgotten part….” seems more forgivable to me. To the extent that people know what happened in Munich at all, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were ignorant that Chamberlain was super popular as a result. They might remember the mistake, but not his popularity.

        2. The argument repeats one of my pet peeves about history, and that’s trotting out that old quip by Santayana. Truth be told, I’ve never read Santayana, so I don’t know why or in what context he said what he said–and I strongly suspect he said it in a specific context that makes more sense. But people usually refer to the quote as a way to justify using whatever example seems apt at the moment to support or criticize some present-day decision.

        3. I’m not sure what we can learn from Munich. I don’t agree with what I take to be Henninger’s argument that “because Munich, we must Ukraine and Syria.” Munich happened. If Chamberlain told the British people they could “sleep tight” or whatever, he didn’t go to sleep. By the time Germany absorbed the rest of Czechoslovakia, he made the decision to stand by Poland. Another thing about Munich is that if Chamberlain and the French guy (Daladier?) had stood firm and if standing firm had worked, we wouldn’t know it. Munich would be just another in a round of conferences that happen in diplomatic history.

        4. I’m not sure what we can learn from history. Appeasement of aggressors is bad, but so is war. Munich wasn’t the Gulf of Tonkin wasn’t Beirut wasn’t Kuwait wasn’t 9/11 wasn’t MOD’s isn’t Syria or Ukraine.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Most people who trot that quote out can’t even remember who said it, showing that those forget “Santayana” are doomed to repeat him.Report

      • “I got a black magic woman, and she’s trying to make a devil out of me.”Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Forgive the descent into nerddom:

        When a web server receives a request (in this case a GET, because you’re just asking for the contents of a page, not sending any additional information as when you’re, for instance, submitting a comment) , the primary thing it gets is the URL. But in addition, it receives a set of what are called “HTTP headers”, which contain further information about the request, perhaps including things like:

        * The time at which it was sent.
        * The kind of browser you’re using
        * Your name and password (if you’re trying to log in to a site)
        * Your session id (if you’ve already logged in)
        * Information saved in a browser cookie (that’s how Amazon can say “Hi, Gabriel!” even before you’ve logged in.)
        * The URL of the page containing the link you’ve clicked on

        My guess is that WSJ is using the last of these to disable the paywall if you got there via a search engine.Report

      • …in this case a GET, because you’re just asking for the contents of a page, not sending any additional information…

        Just a nit, but GET messages can include quite a lot of additional information. It’s all tacked on to the end of the URL, and it’s got to be ASCII characters, but with the bulk of 2,048 characters available (more for some servers), that will handle even a pretty sizable comment. It’s not as bad as it used to be, since the details of so many sites are built by software these days, but misuse of GET was rampant early on. Sometimes necessarily — I vaguely recall working with an early HTTP server that wouldn’t pass POST requests to user software.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        I recall hearing a story about a very early web site that deleted pages via GETs to pageUrl/delete. It got changed in a hurry once people started running webcrawlers …Report

      • My guess is that WSJ is using the last of these to disable the paywall if you got there via a search engine.

        I’m about as ignorant about computers as anyone can be, so please forgive if this is a stupid question, but…why would the WSJ want to do that? Wouldn’t they prefer that I be a paying customer?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Not stupid at all, though why they’re doing this (as opposed to how) is really a business question, not a computer question. My guess is this: the paywall is for people who read the WSJ regularly. People who merely happen to run across a WSJ article via a search engine are not going to pay to read it; if they run into the paywell, they’ll just click on a different hit. But if they’re allowed to read the whole thing (which costs the WSJ almost nothing), they might be impressed enough to become subscribers. This assumes, of course, that they’re not scoundrels like us wanting a specific article and using the search engine trick to sneak through the wall.Report

      • Well, if you let someone sneak through the wall, soon he’ll sneak through another one, and another one…..until he takes over half of Europe!Report

      • Ken S in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        So now if I want a divorce, I ask a web server?Report

  4. KatherineMW says:

    One of the more annoying parts of listening to politicians (and shallow political commentators) talk about existing or potential conflicts is that they only seem to be aware of two historical references: Munich and Vietnam. Everything is either Munich or Vietnam.Report

  5. Michael Drew says:

    In fairness, there is a strain of Munich-mongering that does take the public’s preference for peace (whether then or now) as understood. The point is that it’s a “failure of leadership” to let that “lack of resolve” on the part of the public get in the way of politicians carrying out their sacred duty to impose unwanted wars on unsupportive publics (when “necessary”). That’s the essence of leadership in this account, and it makes George W. Bush, for example, perhaps even more of a hero for implementing the surge in 2007 than he was for invading Iraq in 2003, since at that time he had managed to whip the public into majority support for the action. (Though arguably the whipping was itself a pretty heroic example of counter-sentimental war leadership, depending on how you look at public opinion about the notion of invading Iraq in 2001-2002.)Report

  6. ScarletNumbers says:

    We expect The King of Queens to be an historian as well? 😉

    Chamberlain said the words for which history remembers him: “I believe it is peace for our time.

    Hitler was the first out of 20,000 to screw Chamberlain…Report