February 25, 2007

371 Years of Treason

On September 22nd, 1776, on his way to the gallows, Nathan Hale proclaimed his only regret to be that he "had but one life to lose for my country." Since then, it has been all downhill for Connecticut in terms of loyalty.

A spy for the Revolutionary forces, Hale was caught behind enemy lines and executed for his role prior to the Battle of Long Island. He was America's first espionage agent, but is celebrated almost entirely for his famous last words -- which differ in their few vague accounts and which most scholars believe to be a repetition of a phrase he did not come up with himself. In any case, for being this sort of fearless, patriotic Christ-figure, Nathan Hale is honored far and wide with postage stamps, statues, and an obscene number of elementary schools.

[Incidentally, the primary witness to this speech was a British Colonel John Montresor. Despite the distinctiveness of this name
and the modest notoriety he achieved for his role in the war he seems to bear no relation to the Montresor of Poe's Cask of Amontillado. Not that this would make any literary sense either.]

Since Hale uttered his celebrated line, Connecticut history has been nothing but a parade of backstabbers and turncoats. In fact, I will demonstrate
that treachery is the state's most basic identity. Let us consider some notable historical figures in the intervening time. Not more than four years later, Benedict Arnold was thwarted in his plot to surrender West Point to the British. That would be the Connecticut-born, Benedict Arnold, synonymous with betrayal.

That one is too obvious, how about something more obscure? The Hale execution story was popularized primarily by one man, William Hull, then a lower-level army officer who heard of Hale's bravery while meeting with a British officer the following day. By the War of 1812 he had worked his way up to the level of general, commanding the northwestern army. Facing what he thought (erroneously) to be vastly superior British forces approaching Fort Detroit, he promptly surrendered THE ENTIRE NORTHWESTERN ARMY. Despite popularizing Hale's all edged speech Hull did not seem willing to regret that he didn't even bother to try losing his life to defend the whole Midwest. Few subordinates believed this action to be even remotely necessary, and a court marshall agreed. Hull was ordered to be shot, and only spared at the last minute by President Madison.

In modern politics, we have Joe Lieberman, Bush's shadow. Go-to guy for really misguided Iraq War ideas and repetition of corrosive "people who criticize the war hate the soldiers" type rhetoric. Who lost the Democratic primary and then stabbed the party that supported his entire career in the back by running as the Independent/Connecticut for Lieberman nominee. Who periodically threatens to break his promise and side with his real soul-mates in the Senate, overturning the intention of the people who voted for him with the expectation that he wouldn't do that. Not to mention the fact that almost none of the positions he espouses are held by the actual people of his constituency in a state that dumped all but one of its Republican representitives last November. Classic Connecticut.

Speaking of which, someone with an excellent sense of humor actually joined Joe's nominal "Connecticut for Lieberman" party. He called the Secretary of State, found out that no one, not even the Senator, had bothered to become a member of the party named after himself. As the only member of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party, Dr. John Orman held a convention at his house, nominated himself for chairman, seconded his own nomination and voted for himself. He then adopted a number of party rules, including "If you run under Connecticut for Lieberman, you must actually join our party."and "If any CFL candidate loses our party's nomination in a primary, that candidate must bolt our party, form a new party and work to defeat our party endorsed candidate."]

Speaking of people who love the President, need I remind you that no one is working harder to further the terrorists' goal of fomenting terror in America and the rest of the world than Connecticut-born George W. Bush himself? Freaking out the country with vague threats, doing the enemy's job by building up the danger they pose and keeping them constantly in the limelight, while at the same time wasting vast resources and efforts fighting people who are not them. Not to mention the obvious stuff like allowing bin Laden to avoid capture and creating a generation of impoverished displaced Muslims who hate America. Whether or not he's actually trying to, it is hard to deny that he's helping the enemy at this point.

Now to more important matter, baseball. Connecticut has always been the least authentic part of New England, or so it seems to the rest of us. In the "real" New England states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts, I think that the source of our unease with Connecticut is their non-allegiance to the Red Sox, and to a lesser extent, the Patriots. We just don't know how to deal with people who call themselves NEer's but don't support the very thing that unifies our region. This intrepid blogger could write a book on Red Sox-Yankees dynamics in CT, and frequently laments the grating fact that the New England Sports Network, which carries the Sox, does not serve Fairfield Country. Is it too much to expect a channel that calls itself the New England Sports Network to operate in, you know, New England?! In any case, it is merely symptomatic of a larger problem, the overflow of fair-weather baseball fans into what is rightly our dominion. Here is how it is supposed to work-

Officially designated Red Sox Area: New England.
Officially designated Yankees area: NY, NJ, remote regions of the country with losing teams and poor baseball knowledge, much of Japan.

Oh, and I forgot, BOS: Dominican Republic, NYY: Nicaragua. But Connecticutters are not content to stick to the pre-arrangement. Instead, many of the weak-willed betrayers of western Conn. took it upon themselves to divide up the state as they wish. The NY Times published a fascinating summary of the boarder dispute last summer.

Which all brings us back to Hale, who was, at the very least, a patriot who has inspired millions to serve our nation with his brave demeanor. But is it surprising, after all this, that Connecticut's official state hero is a spy? Who probably didn't come up with or actually utter the very words for which he was immortalized? And what of Conn.'s familiar appellation: The Nutmeg State? Astute knowers of trivia will recognize that this handle refers to the shrewd practice of peddling fake wooden nutmeg to southerners and similarly dimwitted fellow residents. So ingrained is Connecticut's deceitful nature that the state's nickname itself celebrates their own duplicity! Quad erat demonstratum.

So next time you are enjoying the manatee exhibit at Mystic Aquarium, watch your back.