Were We Always Assholes?

Were We Always Assholes?If you watch a lot of TV – and you know you do – you probably watch a lot of reality TV. Mostly because it’s the only thing on TV anymore. We watch tons of this stuff despite ourselves; despite the fact that everyone on a reality show is first and foremost an enormous asshole.

There’s actually a pretty simple home test for this:

    Q. Are you on a reality television program?
    A. Yes.

It’s one of those things that just is because it is. It’s like asking “Wait why is Kim Kardashian famous?” when you goddamned well know that the answer is “Because she is.”

But that’s not the real issue. We know that these people are assholes. We accept this. The sky is blue. Simon Cowell is an asshole. Ok. The question, here, then, is “Is this a recent thing, or were wealways assholes?”

The answer may surprise you. Or not.

Christopher Columbus

In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America. Completely by accident. He thought he was in Southeast Asia – of course he would, that’s exactly what an asshole would think. Amerigo Vespucci, on the other hand, was by all accounts a reasonable guy. He also realized that he was not in Asia when he got here. This is why we live in America instead of Columbia.

The Founding Fathers

In the late 1700s our Founding Fathers cobbled together some world-changing ideas, wrote them down, took up their muskets and plowshares, and defeated the British. That would be inspiring, if it were true. Turns out that the Founding Fathers all had racked up pants-shitting amounts of debt with creditors back in England. They also decided that they didn’t like paying taxes very much. Also: slaves.

The plan was to rally the common folk around the cause of Liberty and Independence and overthrow the British so that guys like Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t have to keep making payments on his furniture. Guess what: it worked. And you’ll never guess what happened after the new government got set up. That’s right: taxes, bitch.

Founding Fathers? More like Founding Assholes.

Smallpox Blanket

Three words: Smallpox. Infested. Blankets.

Civil War

The Civil War should just be called The Asshole War because every human touched by the war turned into an asshole. Ulysses S. Grant? Drunk asshole. Scarlett O’Hara? Non-stop drama asshole. Abraham Lincoln might have been the one man that wasn’t an asshole, but then he got shot in the back of the head by an asshole.

For the record, anyone who shouts “Sic semper tyrannis!” before capping the President is a colossal asshole.

JP Morgan

The Industrial Revolution brought many improvements to America. It brought industrial-strength assholes, too.

J.P. Morgan made a fortune during the Civil War by buying tons of antiquated, busted, and basically useless rifles from the Army for $3.50 apiece. He then had them re-machined and polished and then sold then back to the Army for $33. Each.

Alone, that would be bad enough – there’s a special place in Hell for war profiteers (no, really) but, shockingly, the rifles were defective. As in blow your thumbs off defective.

When you were a kid in school you probably learned the term “robber baron” to describe guys like Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. “Asshole baron” or maybe even “robber asshole” would be more apt. During the Great Depression, there was a revisionist movement that looked back at the barons assholes and decided that despite their faults, illegal business practices, active pursuit of monopolization, and complete lack of ethics – business or otherwise, they were actually good for America.

Despite the fact that, you know, those very things were contributing factors to the Depression itself. Anyone making this argument is actually a revisionist industrial asshole apologist asshole.

ku klux klan

You can’t talk about assholes in America and not talk about the racism. Isn’t racism one of those words that should always have a “the” in front of it? Like when your mom is for whatever reason talking about drugs and it’s always “the drugs”? Or “the internets“? Things – man, place, animal, narcotic – have more staying power with “the” in front of it. Like the Ukraine. Nobody knows anything about it; they just know that it sounds bad ass.

ANYWAYS the racism is one of those things that you would think would live in the dark corners of America and only occasionally peek out and reveal itself. You would think that the racism is something to be ashamed of. You would think that the racism – no matter how racist you may be – is not something to broadcast to the world.

You would think that.

But this is America, dude. And this is the home of the Ku Klux Klan. And thus, if you’re wearing a bedsheet and a pointy hat, you are a racist asshole. Congratulations!

As a native of the great state of Tennessee, the Klan is one of the few things that makes me ashamed of my homeland. Thanks again, assholes.

I think we’ve all learned something here today. And that thing is that the history of this fine nation is littered with assholes. And not just that, but that America was in fact built by assholes.

By no means is this meant to be an indictment of these assholes. They may be assholes, but goddammit, they’re our assholes. Think about that the next time you’re watching The Fat Bachelor or Who Wants to Blow a Millionaire? or MILF Island. Think about the fact that as an American, you, too, are probably an asshole.

But that’s okay, because we’re in it together. E pluribus anus and all that.

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