Hey, guys, it's Mike Rowe, and this is the way I heard it, episode number one, 89, and it's called Damn Damnation Mimura or Damn NATIO Memorizer or possibly damn Nacio Memoria or maybe memorizer. There is some ambiguity as to the proper pronunciation of this Latin phrase. Call it what you will. It means the condemnation of memory. And it seemed like an apt title for this episode since we'll be talking about one of the very few statues in this country not currently in danger of being toppled by an angry mob.
This whole council culture thing that's been dominating the headlines has led a lot of people to conclude that it's a relatively new phenomenon. But fact is, it's been going on for centuries. It was the Romans who originally called it Damasio Mimura, and they used it to great effect over the years, removing statues of former heroes and political leaders who fell out of favor, scratching out the faces of people and famous paintings and doing all sorts of things that we're currently doing today.
And what I happen to believe is a misguided attempt to change the present by erasing parts of the past. That's why I wrote the story you're about to hear. It's the true story of a genuine hero whose bravery on the battlefield earned him a monument unlike any other. I then briefly discuss the strange circumstances that led to the commission of my own unlikely likeness in bronze some years ago, back when I was impersonating a host on a TV show here in San Francisco called Evening Magazine.
Then I sit down with Chuck, the producer of this podcast, who now lives in constant fear that I'm going to say something that gets canceled to discuss the insanity unfolding here in San Francisco, where the geniuses on the local school board have voted to change the names of no less than 44 public schools. I referred to names like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and a few dozen other notables whose monikers are now mud damnation memoria.
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W.E. is the way I heard chapter 11. Something is missing. A young officer and a pivotal battle exasperated by the indecision of his general takes matters into his own hands. Leaping astride his trusty steed, he gallops to the front of the line to rally his troops from the back of his horse. He laughs at the enemy, ignores the bullets that fly past his head and addresses his men like Henry, the fifth at Agincourt. According to the many firsthand accounts, it was a moment worthy of a monument.
He was suddenly in the front of the line, said one soldier, his eyes flashing, pointing with his saber to the advancing foe with a voice that rang clear as a trumpet.
He came from nowhere. Another said, and electrified the men. He simply willed us to follow him. And so we did. In a totally audacious maneuver, the young officer led 3000 men straight into the flank of a superior foe, scattering the enemy and allowing his general to march his remaining force straight across the battlefield and win the day.
But alas, something was missing, namely the general's remaining force. Incredibly, the general had been worried about the wrong thing, who would end up getting credit for this victory? And so he'd withdrawn his remaining men. Settling for a draw in the official battle report, the general acknowledged the gallantry of those 3000 soldiers. But again, something was missing the name of the brave young officer who had led the charge. Three weeks later, when both sides clashed on the same bloody fields, it was deja vu all over again.
At the pivotal moment, the general hesitated and once again, the ambitious young officer leaped upon his trusty steed and rode to the front lines, this time in direct defiance of his furious commander when he reached the front line. He reared back on his horse. Once more, he shouted to the troops. Hello, old friends, so good to see you again. What say you? Shall we win the day once and for all? Shall we send these bastards back across the sea?
In the movie version, this is where the slow motion begins, the cacophony of battle drops away, replaced by soaring strings, musket balls and grapeshot were past our heroes head as a junior officer falls in a bloody heap beside him. The strings fade as we hear his pumping heart and labored breath close up on his left leg, the same leg that's been twice wounded in earlier battles, a musket ball has lodged deep in his thigh. His temples pound as white-Hot Pain cascades through his body.
Still, our hero rides on another musket crack and all is silent as a gaping wound in the horse's neck spews a crimson river. The great beast howls, rears back and collapses on our hero, shattering his wounded left leg. Fade to black. There are rare moments that turn the tide of every battle, rare battles that turn the tide of every war, rare wars that turn the tide of human history. That was one of those moments in one of those battles and one of those wars, as in the Battle of Hastings in 10 66, when William Duke of Normandy conquered England, as in the battle of early on in 14 29, when Joan of Arc saved France, as in D-Day in 1944, when Dwight D.
. Eisenhower directed the allied advance into Normandy, the heroes of those battles were recognized for their valor. One became a king, one a saint, one a president. All were honored with statues that stand to this day. So, too, was the young officer with the shattered leg who lay beneath his horse 240 years ago, indeed, on that very spot on this very day, you can still see the monument to our hero erected 100 years after his glorious charge carved in granite to last through the ages.
The inscription on the back spells out the magnitude of his contribution in memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army who was desperately wounded on this spot, winning for his countrymen, the decisive battle of the American Revolution. That's high praise, but it is curious if you visit this monument for yourself, you might notice that something is missing.
For starters, the hero's gaze, his eyes are not overlooking the Hudson Valley in triumph, as you might expect them to be, because his statue has no head. His left hand does not hold the reins of his trusty steed, and his right hand does not point to gleaming sabre towards the enemy because his statue has no arms. Closer inspection reveals that something else is missing shoulders along with hips and a torso. The legs are conspicuously absent. Even the trusty steed to which the aforementioned reigns might be attached is nowhere to be found.
Indeed, there is nothing to this monument but a left boot draped unceremoniously over the muzzle of a cannon.
And then you understand why the young officer memorialized in such a strange fashion forgot to do something on that fateful day. He forgot to dye. Pety, had he simply bled to death in the mud underneath his horse, he'd have cities and schools named in his honor today, along with a proper statue that included his horse, his saber and the rest of his body. But alas, our hero not only survived the battle, he refused to let the surgeons amputate his ruined limb, his ego would not permit it.
He spent the rest of his life in constant pain, hobbling around on the left leg, three inches shorter than the right, while completely neglecting the less obvious injury that would fester in ways that no doctor could treat the wound to his pride, which went on to destroy the only thing he valued more than his life. You may not remember Horatio Gates, the indecisive American general who squandered multiple opportunities to defeat the British, but I bet you remember the name of his young officer, the soldier whose bold action won the decisive battle that convinced the French to join America's fight for independence, a decision that, according to the French anyway, turned 13 unruly colonies into the United States of America.
Who knows how General Gates simply acknowledged the uncommon valor of his young officer, rather than hoarding all the credit for himself, our hero might have made some different choices after his injuries at Saratoga.
Maybe then he'd have gotten a proper monument. Instead, he got the boot, the only statue ever dedicated to a specific war hero, where something remarkable is missing the hero's name in this case, the name of a young officer whose courage helped free a nation, but whose pride turned his once good name into the very definition of betrayal.
Benedict Arnold. In 2002, an artist in Oakland offered to cast me in bronze free of charge, though it was tempting to think otherwise, his generous offer had nothing to do with me and everything to do with free publicity. It was the kind of quid pro quo to which I'd become accustomed as the host of a long running, inexplicably popular TV show in San Francisco. According to TV Guide, Evening magazine provided a half hour of human interest stories and local color.
For the most part, this was true.
Evening magazine was packed with segments about local artists Napa Valley getaways, Hidden Bay Area gems, quirky collectors, ingenious inventors and the kind of people who see the Virgin Mary in their French toast. If there was a three legged dog in Marin struggling to overcome canine kidney failure or a grape stomping contest at the state fair, you could count on evening to bring you the story. As one of the hosts, my job was to introduce these squishy little segments from a different location each night, usually a five star spa, a museum opening, or the latest Michelin rated restaurant in Nob Hill.
Not exactly meaningful work, but I was good at it and happy to assume the many perks that came with being a local celebrity. For instance, the artist who reached out to me knew that the promotional value of appearing on a segment was much greater than the fifteen thousand dollars he'd typically charge to cast the B list Celebrity and Bronze. He also knew that a B list celebrity would find the prospect of preserving his enormous head for posterity too tempting to ignore.
Like Alan Hale Jr., I had not won an Emmy and unforgivable oversight in a world where everyone is entitled to their own trophy, perhaps a bronze bust of my chiseled massage could fill the void. My cameraman and I drove to the artist's studio in Oakland, there I sat for dozens of photos, each taken from a slightly different angle until every square centimeter of my giant cranium had been captured. Based on those photos and with the help of some mysterious software program, we made the initial mold as well as the negative.
Several weeks later, we returned and filmed me pouring bronze into the negative.
Then we returned once again and revealed the finished product.
It was a win for everybody.
Viewers got an entertaining look at an intriguing process. The artist was flooded with requests from other narcissists, all of them happy to pay 15000 dollars for a permanent reminder of their favorite subject. And I got my long overdue trophy, a three dimensional 200 pound selfie. My delight was short lived, however.
Where exactly does one display a 200 pound version of one's own head in the entryway on the piano atop the mantle, Sandy and I lived in a modest apartment, one too small, it seemed, for this oversized doppelganger. It's too heavy for the mantle, she said. And we don't have a piano or an entryway. Plus, I don't like the way it looks at me. Sensing my disappointment, she added, Maybe I'll feel differently after you're dead.
She had a point, statues and busts weren't meant to be seen by the subjects they honor, just as photographs weren't meant to be taken by the people who are in them. But what's the appropriate waiting period after my demise?
A month, a decade these days, statues are being pulled down right and left. Perhaps if we'd waited a bit before building monuments to people we think we admire, we wouldn't be tearing those same monuments down today. Think about it. It took us 100 years to give Benedict Arnold his monument that gave multiple generations plenty of time to consider the depth of his treachery as well as his valor on that particular field. As a result, he got the memorial he deserved, one that has yet to be toppled.
But if Sandy's right and animal lovers realize the Russians built their statue to Laika not to honor her, but to cover their own conniving asses, should they reconsider that statue? What about Lady Liberty, who seems a bit wobbly up there these days on that magnificent pedestal of hers?
Thinking about it is not going to stop me from filling my Facebook page with selfies, those little monuments are impossible to topple. But I assure you today Brons Mike sits right where he belongs, under a tarp in my garage next to some firewood and a bike with two flat tires. He's been there for years, out of sight, out of mind, dreaming of the day that he might emerge from the shadows to share the limelight with another monument, one that I'm in no great hurry to accept the only monument everyone gets, the granite monument inscribed with the words we hope will sum us up even as they let us down.
My favorite epitaph is I told you I was sick. Whose was that?
I don't know, Sherry told me that there's a grave up in Spokane, Washington, that says that I told you I was sick. I told him I was sick. That's fantastic. Do you think it would be Gordy at that point for me to put my bronze bust on top of my headstone wherever it is I finally propose?
I think that I think that your fans will demand it.
There's just there's just because people love to take pictures with you, Mike. So when you're gone, they could at least take a picture with your gold, your bronze vintage bronze, for sure.
Gold was never in the wood. I'm joined today by a very nervous producer, Chuck Klausmeier, who thanks, everybody.
Welcome to our last very last podcast. Come on.
It's not going to be that bad. Full disclosure, I was going to talk with the tangentially referred to co-host of Evening magazine, my old friend Mulu Knobler. And I thought it'd be fun for us to kind of look back and reminisce about what made that show so unusual. I'm going to invite her back later in the book when we talk about evening some more. But Chuck, I didn't want to talk to her about this chapter. I wanted to talk to you partly because I know you're nervous.
You're waiting for me to get canceled.
And when I listened to the chapter again, I was reminded that that artist's studio where I went to get cast in bronze with Mulu was actually just a couple of miles from one of the schools here in the Bay Area whose name has been challenged. No, I think it's Abraham Lincoln's or it could be George Washington, but they're literally like 40 some schools right now. And the school board is voted up here six to one to change the names.
And I mean, I knew it was going to get weird, but I didn't think it was going to get this weird. I wrote that story, as I guess you might remember, around the same time they pulled Christopher Columbus, the statue down in Little Italy, in Baltimore, where you and I grew up. And I just thought it would be an interesting thing to ruminate on in terms of, you know, statues were in the news council culture felt like it was coming and revisionist history felt like it was here.
And so I just thought the whole thing was interesting to ruminate on Vesuvio statue that was built not to honor somebody, but to simply acknowledge and sort of damned them at the same time. So I want to talk to you today about all the stuff you've begged me not to talk about, because you know what? It's in the headlines. And why not?
Well, I know the list is too long to get into in just the two and a half hours that we have right now.
But, you know, I noticed in the in the group part of of that chapter just now when we listen to it, that you said you described Lady Liberty as being a little wobbly on her pedestal.
And I thought that was really interesting because that part was written after you'd written the the Benedict Arnold thing, obviously.
So what did you what were you specifically thinking of with that?
Well, I mean, we were let's see, I wrote that a little over a year ago, the Benedict Arnold piece I wrote probably two years ago.
And so today I think it's two and three, just so you know, because believe it or not, the book this October will be two years since the book was released. Yes. Well, whatever the timeline is today, we're in real time and the obsession with statues has only increased. And so the last line in there or the line you mentioned was, I mean, where does it stop? If you can take George Washington off of Rushmore? If you can take Lincoln off of a high school, then why not take Lady Liberty off of her pedestal?
There's got to be some reason anybody can do anything for any reason. And right now, I think the country's trying to figure out both the thought processes and the and the logic of this spasm of renaming we seem to be embroiled in. So, I mean, I don't even know what to tell you right now except up here in San Francisco. It's so completely bananas. People aren't even sure how to talk about it. You think you're nervous? I mean, people up here, it's bananas to hear.
You know what? Let me find this thing. I read it this morning and I'm going to read it to you now. This is an article written just a couple of weeks ago in the Atlantic. Right now, this is notable because the Atlantic is is pretty far to the left of center. But check out the headline, the holier than. Now, crusade in San Francisco, it's written by a guy called Gary Cameo, I'll just read you the first two paragraphs.
San Francisco has issued its latest grand moral decree and bad ex presidents would be quaking in their coffins if they could stop laughing. On January 26, the San Francisco School Board announced that dozens of public schools must be renamed. The figures that do not meet the board's standards include Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Robert Louis Stevenson, Paul Revere and Dianne Feinstein. A panel had determined that the 44 schools, more than one third of the city's total, were named after figures who were guilty of being colonizers, slave owners, exploiters of workers, oppressors of women, children and or queer and transgender people, people connected to human rights or environmental abuses and espousal of racist beliefs.
The holier than Thou crusade is typical for San Francisco, which in recent years has traded in its freak flag to march under the banner of brain dead political correctness. Aside from providing and valuable ammunition to Fox News and the more than 70 million Trump supporters whose most extreme caricatures of liberals have now been confirmed, renaming the schools is likely to cost the already deeply indebted district millions of dollars and will not help a single disadvantaged student were actually advance the cause of racial justice.
The nation's reckoning about its racist past might have positive aspects, but exercises in most constructive self-criticism are simply not among them.
It goes on. But when when the Atlantic comes out to say, Hey, stop, whoa, whoa, what are we doing, then?
I think you and I might find the moral courage to have an honest conversation about our fear of getting canceled. OK, we could give it a shot.
I mean, I think it is kind of funny. Remember when Trump said, oh, yeah, you know, they're coming for Robert E. Lee today, but it's going to be Washington and and Lincoln tomorrow. And we all laughed and we said, oh, silly, silly Trump, you know?
Yeah. I mean, honestly, how did how did Abe Lincoln get into that list and how did Dianne Feinstein or Paul Revere what was his crime? I don't I have no idea. Look, there's talk about taking Malcolm X's name off of a school because at one point he was a pimp and of course, pimps, subjugated women. And so the school board had this giant, you know, debate but decided Malcolm X could stay. But of course, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are not afforded a similar hearing.
So, look, the thing that makes you nervous and me, too, because for the record, I mean, we joke about it all the time, but I don't want to be canceled. Yeah, I really don't.
But how can you have a conversation about all this and not have it be political? I mean, you just mentioned Trump's name because he said this thing and a lot of people who reacted to it. I don't personally believe we're really reacting to what Trump said. I think they were just reacting to the person who said it and therefore.
Right. It had to be wrong. Right? Maybe.
But look, whether it's him or whether it's a sign of the times we have been made crazy, you know, the Greeks had a great expression for it. Damn Nacio Memoria. I'm probably saying it wrong, but damnation memoria, which was to to condemn through erasure. And that's kind of what's happening. I mean, council culture has not it feels like it's recent, but it's been around forever.
Well, that's what they did to Benedict Arnold, the statue that's at Saratoga. It doesn't mention his name, but there's another statue there that has Gates and two other generals there and a space where his message would go right.
But it's not there. Look, they were in a terrible spot, right?
I mean, the you you can't pretend Benedict Arnold didn't save the revolution. He did. Yes. There is no victory without Saratoga. The French don't come into the war without that victory. George Washington himself said Arnold was his greatest general and most clear historians, looking back at it, identify him as the second most important figure on our side, you know, right, right up until he did that really terrible thing and betray one nation, just one forever.
You're a traitor.
But look, from all I've read about it, the thing that was most interesting to me wasn't the fact that he was condemned. It was the fact that the people who had said so many great things about him, including Washington, immediately had to backpedal and not say that this formerly great man who did this amazingly heroic service for our country turned out to be a traitor. What they did was they began to say, you know what? He was never really that great at all.
Yeah, I was just going to say they went back and bashed his his you know, they said he killed animals as a kid.
Right. You know, dropped broken glass in the path of his barefoot friends. Yeah. Just weird stuff like that. And yes, it wasn't enough to say, wow, this former patriot, this brilliant general turned bad. No, you have to go back and say, you know what? He wasn't all that great to begin with.
He was never, never anything but rotten, always bad character. Yeah, right. Because if you don't do that, then you have misjudged someone potentially. Right. And that's I think that's normal.
You know, if you come out in strong favor of somebody who you truly admire and then that person lets you down hugely, then you have a very simple decision. Are you going to live by your words or not or are you going to try and change them? And that, of course, is what we're doing now. We're trying to we're trying to change the past somehow by altering the present, as if removing Washington's name from a school is going to somehow change who he was 250 years ago.
It reminds me of the old Soviet dissident joke, you a wicked sense of humor. The Soviet dissidents had it. They said, oh, the future is certain.
It's the past that keeps changing.
Well, look, with the Ukraine did in twenty fifteen, they removed over thirteen hundred statues of Lenin and the Soviet Union, removed many more statues of Stalin and Stalin before Photoshop was Photoshop, was going through all the old photos and erasing people that were standing next to him who later executed. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
It's the revolution always comes for for its own. It says the reason that Robespierre lost his hat as well, it's. It's sad, it's sad, but it's not new, honestly, that's really the only thing I wanted to say to you today. We don't need to have our typical 45 minute conversation. Great.
And again, I really don't want to blow myself up. But, man, this idea that cancel culture is new is not true.
You can go all the way back to the ancient Greeks and you can see people's faces literally scratched out of these paintings. Their bodies are left, but their faces are removed. That's what who was the guy who actually did the monument? It was it was what's right.
No poster. Wait a minute, John.
What's str to Pastoria? Yeah, John.
What's to say? He was a it was a general during the American Civil War.
And I think you and I disagree with this. I mean, I wanted to mention this earlier, but right away, you know, you said how do you give him a statue that doesn't really honor him, kind of kicks him in the nads at the same time. And I don't think the painter's statue was commissioned for that reason. I think he was he was saying, hey, you know what?
I think he got a bad shake. Oh, yes, there was that traitor thing. And you cannot forgive that he was going to turn over Fort Arnold. He was going to turn over the fort that was named after him, which is now West West Point.
Yeah. But up until that point, you make this point in your story that he was such a revered figure.
He was like Washington's right hand man. You know, he trusted him. He was he was the appointed the military governor of Philadelphia.
Once we got it back from British control, which was the capital and the biggest the biggest city in in the colonies. You know, it was such a huge, huge betrayal. But the reason it was such a huge betrayal is because he was money up until that point. He was unbelievably brave. I mean, even after his betrayal. Yeah. You know, when he when he when he fought for the British, he still fought against the colonists, knowing that if they captured him, he would he would most surely be hung.
But it took one hundred years. Right. So the cognitive dissonance in this whole thing is so great that you can't acknowledge the man's bravery in light of his treason. Look, two things can be true at the same time. Right? But the guy that gave him the boot and I use that turn of phrase because it just kind of makes me laugh. In fact, I I wonder if that's where the expression came from. I don't know. But look, you can't argue that he was trying to honor him because his name isn't even on the monument, is it?
No, but that is because I believe it was not allowed in researching the story way back when I've looked through a lot of stuff. And one of the things that I found was that there was some edict, either an executive order or a law passed, that you were not to put his name or his likeness in bronze or anything.
And so so that's why it's missing. And, you know, they they had said that if they captured Benedict Arnold alive after you know, after he turned coat, if the colonists had captured him, they were going to cut off his wounded leg and bury it with full military honors.
And then they were going to hang the rest of the rest of it on a gibbet. Yes. No, I read that, too. I read that to.
So maybe I mean, you can't not acknowledge the existence of a man who was that instrumental?
My point is that the reason that it's a boot is to honour the leg that was wounded. I'm serious. It's to honour the leg he gave.
He spilled a lot of blood for this country before it was a country and then he turned coat.
But I believe and we both agree, you and I both agree that if Saratoga isn't won, the French do not enter the war. And if the French do not enter the war, most likely the British prevail. Right.
Well, who cares what we agree with? Every historian I've read says the colonies have no chance without the French and the French weren't coming in until they saw. That's right. That's right. Arnold gave them hope. Yes. And so I believe that Depay Center was honoring the true patriot before he turned coat. And look, a lot's been written about all of the you know, he he spent the war.
The Revolutionary War virtually bankrupted him. And he did not recoup the money that he had put into it. And he was bitter. Gates was bitter. You know, that one article that I read said that if. Arnold had not been wounded, he would have rousted the British there and would have been a huge victory and Gates couldn't have denied him the credit he was.
Do you know what I mean? Yeah, I think so. But look, here's another uncomfortable parallel in the immediate wake of his treason. Mm hmm. To your point, his name became verboten. We began a campaign of damnation. Memoria right. It's like he just never existed. And then one hundred years later, we start to rethink that. Their calls right now to make sure again, forgive me, not trying to make it political, but their calls right now to make sure that Donald Trump doesn't have a library named after him.
There are calls right now to make sure he's not honored in any way. I mean, it's pretty amazing. Now, how are we going to feel about that one hundred years from now or 50 or ten or five? Who knows? But we're trending in a weird way. We're trending, Chuck, in such a weird way to bring this full circle. Can you imagine if Benedict Arnold's name winds up on the schools that are currently named for Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt?
I mean, somebody is going to make an argument and it could happen.
Well, to your point in the story, if he had simply died at the Battle of Saratoga. That's exactly what would have happened, because all those historians agree that if the Battle of Saratoga hadn't been won, that the French wouldn't have gotten involved and we wouldn't be a nation. And so one of the Western states most surely would have been named Arnold and his name would have been on a lot of schools. But I don't think he and I don't think he owned any slaves.
I don't know. I don't I don't think so either.
But then again, neither did Lincoln. And they're kicking his ass right now. I mean, I honestly, I just thought, how could how could you ever come for Lincoln? I mean, he's known as the Great Emancipator, isn't I mean, OK, look what what in the world.
Look, if you believe that the racism in this country is truly systemic, if you believe that, then it does make a certain amount of sense to argue that these statues are problematic in ways that still resonate. I can follow that thinking, but to assume that Mount Rushmore and the people on it are there because they own slaves, that doesn't track. That's not why they're on. That's right. Rushmore, you know, and yes, Benedict Arnold forgot to die.
Had he died on the field that day, everything would have been different. But, look, I thought it was interesting to write that in a very six degrees kind of way, you know, because the same is true of you and me and everybody who's ever lived. You know, our expiration date will determine the way we're remembered because who knows what full headed thing or great thing we might have done later. You just never know. But it's easy to look back and make that assumption had been you could argue had he not been shot wounded that day, then he never would have betrayed his country.
Of course, you can't prove it. You don't know. And the other thing that's easy to forget, too, it's not like he went from amazing good guy to amazing bad guy.
There were there were some pretty compelling reasons for him to hold a very serious grudge against this this country, which was not yet a country that go beyond his ego.
Yeah, I think the point is, is that we look at people and judge them in the totality of their existence and their deeds. In other words, you can't just make Benedict Arnold the evil traitor, or at least we we we shouldn't in the same way that you can't make Abraham Lincoln just the glowing, you know, Saint Great Emancipator. Yeah. A saint. You have to look at everything in his life. I mean, he did some crazy stuff during the Civil War.
I mean, he threw some journalists in jail. He you know, he was there was a reason that people called him a tyrant because there was some you know, I'm not saying, look, I love Lincoln, but I'm but I'm saying you weigh all that.
And when you put it all on the scale, if it's heavier in the side of your good deeds than it is in the side of your misdeeds, well, then then I think you lived a pretty good life, you know, or you did something good. And I feel like too too often we are judging people by the absolute worst possible thing that they ever did. We're judging them by our enlightened standards today. That's true, too, so there's simply no context.
There's simply no context. And look, that's why I do enjoy working on Six Degrees with you. And I do enjoy this podcast because it's you know, for me, it's just a reminder that without context there there is nothing but events and events without context or just things that happened. Right. I mean, look, if if Benedict Arnold is going to be remembered as the archetypal villain and traitor, what about the 20, 25 percent of loyalists who were regular American citizens who were alive and well during the entirety of the revolution?
What about the 25, 30 percent of Americans who never picked one side or the other? Yeah, I mean, the whole thing was fought by about 30, 35 percent of of Americans. The rest were either uniformly opposed to it or just Fair-weather Americans. Yeah, just count me out. I'm just going to plow my fields and try not to die on my cornstalks. Arnold was not only disrespected, he didn't get paid.
The country owed him a fortune. He lost all of his money. He became a cripple in the service of his country. He was disrespected by many of his leaders. He had real grievances and he marshaled. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, again, not to get lost in the weeds, but I read a fair amount, you know, trying to get as much of this right as I could.
And he he genuinely believed, it seemed, that America and the colonies he he did care for would be much better under British rule. He he wrote that he affirmatively changed his mind, you know, about what was best for the country he was fighting for. So, you know, was it a total Judas move? Did he do it for thirty pieces of silver? I don't think it was about that. You know, in my story, I suggest that it was primarily ego, but I don't know.
That's just the way I heard it. Right. So there was a lot of other stuff to think about when you ask the question, why did Benedict Arnold ultimately do what he did? Obviously, we don't really and truly know. But why is the school board in San Francisco right now, in February of twenty twenty one, overwhelmingly voting to take the names off of schools? And why did they pull down Chris Columbus back in our hometown? And why would they like to do that in New York and so forth and so on?
How where does it end? How does it end and what's it look like one hundred years from now?
Wow, man, I really don't know. I have no idea.
Is it is it too late to get Mailloux new blood back on here? Maybe she'll have an answer. You know. You know, she got she got a bronze bust of herself, too. I'm talking again about my former co-host on Evening magazine back in 2002. She was with you when you did that? When she was with me, we both went over there. We both got photographed and we were both invited to come back a couple of weeks later to pour the negatives.
And then then we each left with a fifteen thousand dollar bronze likeness of ourselves. And she didn't know what to do with hers either. And I, I still don't mind still out in the garage under the tarp because I, I meant what I said. I don't I don't think people are supposed to have statues of themselves while they're alive.
You know what? I'm going to I think I'm going to come up and see you tomorrow. I'm going to take it with me. I'm going to take that statue, you know, bring it down to the office, put it in there. I wanted to do I had an idea for a show years ago I wanted to give you my bronze bust, and I wanted you to drive it across the country and deliver it to my mom and dad in oh, in Baltimore.
I vaguely remember you telling me this.
We were drinking at the time, as of course we were, of course. But I really I wanted to do an Internet show called Baltimore or Bust, and I wanted my best friend to take my giant two hundred pound bronze selfie and drive it across the country. And the rules were you had to take it with you wherever you went. So like you go into a diner, you got to carry it in, you have to carry it in and you have to get it on the table.
Right. And you have to order it like some French fries or something. And when you checked into your crappy hotel, you got it. You got to take it in now. You got to and you have to film the whole thing. Of course. Oh, my God. So, you know, I said to Taylor, maybe a couple of camera guys along and basically you have a road trip with a brass, a bronze facsimile of your best friend in order to deliver to my parents who would know what the hell to do with it.
Let let them live with the damn thing for a couple of years.
They probably would say, now, now take it back. We got no room for that and then I have to drive it back.
That would be terrible. That's what I.
Well, maybe we should still let's let's let's crowdfund it.
Let's let's say write in and tell us. Do you think that would be a fun show? Well, you know what?
My my my mom and dad I don't know if this is too much info, but they're they're seriously thinking about moving about leaving the condo and entering the next chapter of their lives in some sort of independent assisted living facility. I'm not sure that's going to happen.
It's a bit of an oxymoron right there. Independent assisted living.
Well, it's independent assisted. Oh, OK. It's a large facility that that can accommodate your increasing dependence. Depends on the day. Yeah. How things are going today. I'm feeling pretty independent.
Tomorrow I may need some substance, but no matter how dependent or independent you feel, I think we can conclude this episode by agreeing that a two hundred pound bronze statue of Mike Rowe somewhere, somewhere in sight is going to dramatically improve both your world view and your final years here on this great blue sphere.
Hey, listen up.
One thing that I wanted to say to you or I wanted to ask you, when you were a kid, did you ever call anyone a Benedict Arnold? Was that a thing? That was that was a thing, right? That was the thing. Yeah. When I was a kid as well, where, you know, that was one of the worst things you could say to. So you're a Benedict Arnold. It was like, oh, wow, that hurts, man.
But well, listen, but hang on a second. I, I asked a certain someone at our office who is a millennial, I guess, I don't know, younger than us by a goodly amount and didn't even know who Benedict Arnold was while.
And it was just like it was it was so it was a part of not only history class, but of just American heritage culture.
Yes, I just yes, you know, in the 60s and 70s, it's someone someone does something that is a betrayal of any sort. That is a Benedict Arnold move.
See, this was always the problem with the podcast. And this is why we're now experimenting with this new format. You know, you write a story like the one I wrote and you read it for somebody and it lands with Benedict Arnold and they say, whoo hoo!
Yeah, like, oh, crap. Like, well, I'd like Sean with the with the my pillow one with my pillow guy. Yeah.
The hell is my Glendower like my mother with Bruno Mars.
It's one of the first ones I wrote. You know, that's that's a really well-written story Michael. But who is this Bruno Mars person right now. Oh, God.
Anyway, look, all seriousness, we we have this discussion with the greatest respect for all opinions and all people who are living in this country today trying to make sense of the present and square the future and understand the past. And, you know, as we often say, we're all entitled to our opinions, not our facts. And we can argue over the facts like we do from time to time. But in the end, it's all the way we heard it and, you know.
The one thing I'm sure of Chuck, with every passing day, the one smart thing I feel like I actually did was come up with a good title and I wish I wish more people today in our institutions. I wish more journalists, more filmmakers, more politicians, more scientists, even more doctors. You know, we get the point.
Lots of people got it. I just you know, how about a news channel just called the way we heard it, right. How about instead of fair and balanced or most trusted name in news, we just say, look, this is we're doing our best.
Yeah, we could could be wrong, but probably right. But, you know, I don't feel certain about it, but I want to let you know about it just in case.
That's a congratulations. What a terrific way to end this conversation. Final thoughts or are we done?
Well, I think we should tell the people that they've just heard Chapter 11 of your book, The Way I Heard It, which is based on this podcast.
And if you can't wait to hear all of the episode, all of the chapters all at once, maybe go by the audio book or by the regular book and just read it, but you won't hear Mike say it.
Wow, that was some sentence.
Or you can wait for the paperwork back. The paperback, which they tell me is coming out in. And Montu, check or not, there's really no pressure.
I don't care. I'll be back here next week with Chapter 12 and some more riveting stream of conscious unless unless you've got canceled and unless, of course, I'm canceled and.
All right. All right. Thanks.
Thank you all. OK, very good day. Good day.