Readers, I’m not going to lie. It’s been a long day for me, and every time I sit in front of my keyboard and ask myself “what’s really awesome?” I keep answering “sleep.” But fear not, readers, though the flesh is weak the spirit is stubborn as a mule and we will have Fame Day today, though in lieu of our standard MO of showcasing on particular group or individual, we’re going to be covering a host of different subjects who don’t get the attention they deserve.
Let’s get things started.
I. WWII Russia
If I ask you who won World War II, you might say “America.” If you were a bit more politically correct, you might say “the Allied forces”, or if you’re an absolute contrarian, you might smugly comment that “wars can’t be won.” Whoever you might claim defeated the Nazis, chances are strong that you wouldn’t say “the Russians.”
Ah, but readers, that is the case. This tends to be glossed over in the history books, but the Russians actually suffered massive casualties in their fight with the Germans, and in spite of their barely-above-feudalism existence, wound up not only pushing the Nazis back, but actually capturing Berlin (where they did some pretty terrible things- look it up) and liberating no small amount of concentration camps along the way. Yeah, Stalin was a bloodthirsty monster and Eastern Europe wasn’t exactly turned into a paradise afterwards, but the pure resilience and defiance of the Russian people during this time was truly astounding and deserves a lot more credit than it gets today.
II. Jonas Salk
Imagine, if you can, that it has been announced that a cure for cancer has just been developed. People around the world are ecstatic that not only will this terrible, horrific disease be now treatable, but it will be eliminated from existence. Now imagine that it’s been further announced by the the inventor of this cure that the vaccination will be given away entirely free of charge to every man, women, and child on the planet.
Sounds like science fiction, right? Who in their right mind would just give away the cure to one of the worst disease of all time?
Well, that’d be Jonas Salk- inventor of the Polio vaccine.
Dr. Salk, who for whatever strange reason isn’t a household name, was the first man to develop a successful polio vaccine back in 1952. Rather than patenting his vaccine (which Forbes estimates would’ve made Salk a billionaire seven times over), Salk allowed the vaccine to be replicated around the world without charge. In less than a decade, outbreaks of polio in the US had fallen from the tens of thousands to barely over a hundred cases. Think of all the lives this guy saved. The world as we know would not exist (and there’s a good chance we wouldn’t exist either without the good Dr. Salk).
III. Niccholo Machiavelli
Why honor the writer of one of the most dark and cynical political tracts in human history? Because despite his name being used to denote brutal and back-stabbing politics, Niccolo Machiavelli was actually a diehard advocated of democracy and civil liberties.
Yeah, you read that right.
Machiavelli’s The Prince is believed by many scholars to be, more than anything, a bitter send-up of the politics of his day. Read his other works, and you’ll find his tireless championing of checks and balances to state power and the need for the common people to struggle for their rights by involving themselves in the political process. In fact, the Medici family, who came to rule Machiavelli’s home-city of Florence after overthrowing the republic, had Machiavelli imprisoned and tortured on allegations of his refusal to comply with their rule.
And yet Machiavelli is consigned in history to this image of a conniving weasel of a man, rather than a scholar and early fighter for civil rights and modern democracy. That’s just not fair- so here’s us at Culture War Reporters doing our part to give him the treatment he deserves.
And speaking of people getting what they deserve, readers, the night (I’m writing this post at night) is not getting any younger. I’m going to head off to bed now, comforted by the lullaby of your applause for these people I’ve mentioned up above. The world would not be the same place without them- even if we can’t given them our direct congratulations, we can at least offer them the respect that they deserve.