Some of our fellow Americans would not have weathered the first half of the 1940s very well.
After the United States was drawn into the Second World War, the government rationed gasoline. At first, it was 4 gallons a week; it later dropped to 2.
Imagine what the SUV crowd would say today.
It’s probably just as well, however. Anyone who wore out their tires back then probably wouldn’t have been able to get new ones, because there was a rubber shortage, too.
The supply of everything from fruit to coffee to meat was limited for much of the war. Americans had to use coupons to calculate how much butter, sugar and flour they could buy weekly.
Today, such measures undoubtedly would lead to protests at statehouses and city halls. People informed by nothing more than talk radio shows, Facebook memes and self-interest would yell “socialism.”
But that wasn’t socialism; it was shared sacrifice — a very American concept, and apparently a bridge too far for people who conflate jingoism with patriotism.
You know, like these people whining about wearing masks in public during an ongoing — but we hope dissipating — pandemic. Some of the same people who, mind you, say they won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine to stop the spread because they’ve heard it includes a chip to track their movements.
Which they declare from cellphones that the government can track.
Make no mistake: These people aren’t patriots; they’re petulant.
They say they’re sticking up for freedom, for liberty and businesses that have suffered. But their idea of freedom is the right to spread germs to others while eatin’ good in the neighborhood Applebee’s. Because, as every expert has said repeatedly for a year, a person can spread the coronavirus without knowing they have it.
These folks ignore that fact, either because they don’t believe it … or, more likely, because they don’t care.
About 405,000 Americans lost their lives in four years of World War II. COVID-19 has killed more than 543,000 U.S. citizens since last March. The number of deaths would have been much higher if millions of people had not stayed home, put on masks when they had to go out and kept their distance from others.
Those are the real descendants of the Greatest Generation, not the privileged protesters who portray their selfishness as a principled fight for the Constitution.
In the spring of 1942, the military asked for nightly East Coast blackouts to prevent German U-boats from targeting merchant marine ships in silhouette.
At first, some people balked — it would hurt businesses if they were forced to turn off their neon signs. On barrier islands, people were asked to keep their lights off at night, to black out their homes so that no lights shone in the direction of the ocean.
Imagine how today’s crowd would’ve responded. They might have turned on their porch lights because, freedom. Or, more accurately, freedumb.
The government didn’t initially insist on those blackouts, fearing it would hurt national morale. Or just make people mad. Sound familiar? That came with a price: In the first six months of 1942, 360 merchant marine ships were sunk, many targeted by the silhouette of shore lights. The death toll was more than 5,000.
In May of that year, a military study found the lights of downtown Charleston didn’t silhouette ships offshore, so no nightly “dim-out” was necessary here. But Mayor Henry Lockwood said if the Army or Coast Guard subsequently found different, the city would quickly comply.
Nobody called for his resignation.
Mayor Lockwood wouldn’t have lasted five minutes with these people, the ones who latch on to any change in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as proof that no one knows what is actually effective.
They don’t recognize that science evolves, because they don’t.
In the past year, we’ve seen no shortage of this buffoonery. One viral video showed a grown man lying on the floor at a Costco, pitching a baby fit because workers asked him to put on a mask.
That’s not standing up for freedom; that’s just displaying where the intubation tube goes.
These people like to pretend they are today’s patriots, but sadly they lack the self-awareness to see the truth:
Nobody will ever mistake them for the Greatest Generation.