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Welcome to Stuff You Missed in History Class A production of I Heart Radio. Happy Friday, everybody, I'm Tracy B. Wilson, and I'm Holly Fry. One of our episodes this week was about tear gas.
I sure was super fun. Yes. And those Girl Scouts. Yeah, some of the articles that I read about tear gas were really frustrating to read because a lot of them.
Not all of them by any stretch, but like there were there were several of them that were like if they had just had tear gas during this anticolonial uprising, they could have avoided massacring all of those people. And I was just like, I can think of a third option. That is neither tear gas nor massacre. And it is. Have you considered not having an oppressive colonial regime? Maybe you addressed that problem instead of dispersing the protesters with tear gas or weapons like firearms, like like there's that third option that you could go with.
It kept coming up over and over again. People would be like, yeah, if only the British had had tear gas.
You know, I don't know if you're frustrated by my tone with that and are like, I can't believe you're sounding so political. I might have you listen to our podcast so often talking about labor disputes and civil rights disputes and all kinds of people who were trying to say, hey, we would like some basic dignity or we would like to be paid fairly for our labor and not exploited. And so, so, so often that is what the tear gas was being used for to make those people go away now.
I mean, it is what it is, right, like, it's it's one of those things that I think is particularly hot button and politicized at the moment, because we are living in a time where every issue that comes up seems to cause people more often than not to immediately want to separate to their two camps and bicker over it. But like, if you look at the science, yeah, it's really hard, in my opinion, to be able to justify this as a rational and reasonable thing, particularly when you consider all of the instances you discussed in the outline of just really, really improper use and misuse.
Yeah, I read so many accounts as I and they could not all make it into the episode. There was just no possible way you could have an entire podcast. I keep doing these topics. That could be an entire new podcast, an entire new podcast that's just COINTELPRO. That's going to be 100 episodes long, an entire new podcast that's just going to be tear gas. It's also going to be one hundred episodes long. That was stuff like, you know, Meiners, striking because they were being exploited and law enforcement using their entire stock of tear gas against them and then ordering more.
And it's like even if you take like the basic take of this is safer than other techniques when used correctly, like we're seeing over and over and over, nationally televised at this point. Incorrect use.
Yeah, like people spraying tear gas directly into people's faces, people launching tear gas grenades directly at people, uh, kettling demonstrators and then tear gas, like, yeah, none of that is the correct way to use it if you believe that there is a correct way to gas people. Yeah.
We have gotten so far away from that initial idea of like it is a last resort before we resort to weapons like physical weapons that are lethal. That's not even a part of the equation anymore. No, no. I feel like we should never, ever launch any of these. This could be a whole series podcast on its own. Unless we make sure that you have a therapist standing by at all times.
It makes you so angry. And I were right.
Yeah. I am not volunteering myself for any of these hypothetical entirely new podcasts like that would be a job for someone else, because just keeping our show going at this point is like my mind is like, why is everything so hard?
Is very hard.
One of the topics that we talked about today was Jacob Coxie and his army. Yeah, his army of protesters. Yeah. I hope people do not mind that. I included as part of this a large chunk of his oration as he had written it. And the reason that I wanted to do that was because when I was researching this and I was reading it, I was struck by how very similar it is to discussions that we are having today, particularly in the quote about the rich only getting richer, the poor only getting poorer in the middle class vanishing by the end of the century, which was intended to reference the 19th century.
And yet that same rhetoric is ever present. Yeah, it's as we read that part in the studio just now, I resisted the urge to say we are still talking about this when we got to that part.
Yeah, it's a in some ways I was telling my husband last night, like in some ways it makes me so despondent, like we never solve our problems. We just cycle through them and then the other in another way, which is, again, maybe a Pollyanna way to look at it. Part of me was like, well, we don't always solve the problems, but we do keep going. And hopefully it's getting incrementally better with each cycle. That is my hopeful take on it.
That could change by the end of the day because I'm not in any sort of consistent headspace regarding our current world change within the hour, within the finishing recording and going to eat lunch.
By the time I finish this sentence, I will need to call my therapist. That's entirely possible.
But the other thing that I wanted to talk about in relation to Cox's army is parallels that people have drawn to The Wizard of Oz, which sounds a little cuckoo. Have you heard this before? I don't know this at all. So Elfrink Bum, who nobody knew who he was at this point, was apparently one of the spectators at this march. And there have been theories and interpretations of his book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
That suggests that he was really drawing from that experience and his knowledge of this march to inform the structure of his book, so the idea was that the Tin Man represented industrial workers, the scarecrow represented farmers, the Cowardly Lion represented William Jennings Bryan. And the The Wizard of Oz was the president. And that this and this is a really interesting thing. One thing that that people always use and go, no, no, this is absolutely here's the evidence.
Is it in the book, Dorothy's shoes were silver. They were not ruby slippers like we see in the movie. And they correlate that to the the ongoing debate about the embracing of silver as a currency standard for gold and how that all caused a rush on gold. And it's an interesting theory. These didn't come up until quite a ways after the book had been out. And I don't think that Elfrink Bomb ever commented on them or was even alive when they they started to arise.
But it's an interesting thing to consider. I could see where being part of a momentous event like that, even just as a bystander, particularly in a city where like the whole city was kind of enraptured in this moment of this march to the Capitol, might inform your later work, but we'll never know, as I had a wonderful professor in college who when people would talk about the author's intent, particularly related to older literature, would say the author's dead, so we can't ask him.
And if he were here, he would lie anyway, suggesting that, like, you know, you can interpret stuff however you want. You just have to make a solid case about it, which is a kind of a fun thing. So you could make that case that there are parallels there and that the book is somehow related to this moment in in protest history.
Or it could be a coincidence or it could be a coincidence or it could have been a completely unconscious thing where he pulled from some concepts of of that those ideologies of like wanting something that you needed to get from someone else, we just don't know. But I thought that was a fascinating thing and it didn't really fit in the actual episode. But I was so captivated by that concept that I wanted to make sure we mentioned it.
You know, literary interpretation is in and of itself a fascinating field and one that I really, really enjoyed when I was in college.
That was really one of my favorite things about my literature degree. But then there are also times when I talk to people who are legitimate heavy hitters in that field.
And I'm like, oh, I'm I'm just a a dilatant. I'm out. But, you know, it makes it an interesting way, particularly to relate in this case to history.
So if that gives you a moment of entertainment, I am delighted. If it doesn't, I apologize.
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