Saturday, June 5, 2021

Loose Cannon on Deck

Former Lt. General Michael "Jack D. Ripper" Flynn planted his fascist foot in his mouth this week at a QAnonference in Texas, seeming to agree with a question from the floor that a Myanmar-inspired coup would be a great idea in the U.S. this year. (Donald Trump seems to expect one in August.)

100 years ago this month, another loose cannon in the U.S. Armed Services drew heavy criticism for some ill-considered remarks. Rear Admiral William S. Sims was the guest at a luncheon in London, telling the gathering:

"I do not want to touch on the Irish question, for I know nothing about it. But there are many in our country who technically are Americans, some of them naturalized and some of them born there, but none of them Americans at all.

"They are American when they want money, but Sinn Feiners when on the platform. They are making war on America today.

"The simple truth of it is that they have the blood of British and American boys on their hands for the obstructions they have placed in the way of the most effective operation of the Allied naval forces during the War. They are like zebras, either black horses with white stripes, or white horses with black stripes. But we know they are not horses ― they are asses. But each of these asses has a vote."

The Rear Admiral was no stranger to controversy; during the Wilson administration, he had publicly quarreled with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. His 1919 criticism of what he saw as deficiencies of American naval strategy, tactics, policy, and administration in the Great War was a major embarrassment to the Department of the Navy, already reeling from the Newport sex scandal.

"At It Again" by Roy Harrison James in St. Louis Star, June, 1921

In 1910, President William Howard Taft was obliged to rebuke Sims for promising Great Britain aid from the U.S. in the event its empire were "seriously menaced by an external enemy." At the time, the idea of sending American soldiers to defend the British Empire was rather farfetched politically; but in the 1921 speech, Sims patted himself on the back for his clairvoyance. Taft, now busy lobbying behind the scenes for appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was in no position to reply to Admiral Sims. But Sims would have to answer to Secretary Daniel's successor, Edwin Denby.

"Well, Here We Are Again" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, June 11, 1921
"Best Wishes, Ol' Top" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, June 10, 1921

Admiral Sims wasn't the only American official speaking out of school in London in the spring of 1921. U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain George Brinton McClellan Harvey (whom we saw in typographic portrayal last Saturday) was another.

"Advice from an Expert" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, June, 1921

According to "Ding" Darling, so was at least one U.S. Senator.

"Maybe We Ought to Do Something..." by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, June 14, 1921

Rear Admiral Sims retired from the Navy in 1922, and won a Pulitzer for his memoir of the War, The Victory at Sea.  

I don't anticipate Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn earning any Pulitzers for his body of work. He'll just have to be content with his pardon from Trump.

Unless that August putsch works out in his favor.

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