But Stupid People Are.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to my computer the other day. I went to the WHYY, which is the NPR radio station in Philadelphia. I was trying to get the email address to Terry Gross, the host of the Fresh Air program. I wanted to have Ms. Gross interview me about my research into the Scottish independence movement. I had spent a month earlier this year in Scotland researching the topic. During that time, I informally interviewed any person who would talk to me about independence. I also videotaped two interviews: Doug Norris and the Duke of Argyll. Upon my return, the local NPR station in Chicago, WBEZ, interviewed me upon my return from Scotland.

Being right brain, I am detracted quite easily, which I use to my benefit. This day, a little burb distracted me on WHYY about War of the Worlds radio broadcast. And off I went... I had heard the broadcast when I was in high school, but that was a half century ago and did not remember very much of it other than the excitement about reports of Martians invading America at Grover's Mill. Interestingly, Grover's Mill is not much more than a half hour drive from where I was born and went to elementary school in New Jersey.

If Terry Gross interviews me about the Scottish independence movement, I will fly to Phila for the interview and then go to Merchantville and Pennsauken, NJ to visit where some of my relatives still live. While there, I will surely drive to Grover's Mill.

Many things intrigued me about War of the Worlds. Orson Wells broadcasted the show a mere handful of years prior to my birth and the Martians had invaded a small town near to where I was born and raised. Therefore, I feel a closeness to the storyline of the broadcast.

War of the World's first book cover

War of the World's first book cover

Another item that interests me is that it fact that Olson Welles adapted the H.G. Wells novel, War of the Worlds, by moving the invasion of Martians from England to America. H.G. Wells fleshed out the Martian invasion of England in his novel published in 1898. In addition, most people today see the novel as merely a science fiction work focused upon a popular invasion motif of the time.

H. G. Wells Orson Welles
H. G. Wells Orson Welles

In addition and of vital interest to the novel, Wells critically addressed the imperialism of the British Empire, as did many other writers of his time. His novel conjured up all sorts of fears, paranoia, racism, and other apprehensions that were often apart of the Victorian Age and their fears of those who were not English and looks and mannerisms. Wells had some major issues with the parallels between the Martians and the British Empire and their brutality directed toward their colonies throughout the world. Great Britain and most of Western Europe divided the world among themselves...especially Africa. Liberia and Ethiopia were the only two nations in the entire continent that Europeans did not colonize.

Additionally, there is also a precise parallel between the Martian's technology vs. the English technology compared to the English technology vs. the African technology. For example, Wells described the Martian technology, which came into existence in the battlefields of 20th and 21st centuries. The Martians used Black Smoke, which we called Mustard Gas in WWI. Heat-Rays become the laser weapons of today. Tripods become the radio control drones or ...

In addition to the weapons of war, the Martians had evolved or in some manner overdeveloped their brain physically size wise and mentally. The size of the brain caused them problems moving. In addition, their thinking skills were overdeveloped, which deleted their use of ethics in their lives.

Precisely 40-years after Wells published, The War of the Worlds, Orson Welles adapted the book's storyline for a broadcast on CBS's The Mercury Theatre on the Air. a radio drama for Halloween. The hour long broadcast consisted of 2/3 of the beginning of the program to special announcements as if reporters were calling in their observation of both the Martian invasion and the related panic of Americans who were either killed or terrorized by the other worldly invaders.

This photo is from the WHYY article about Orson Welles and War of the World.

This photo is from the WHYY article about Orson Welles and War of the World.

The broadcast ends with Professor Pierson sitting in his office at Princeton reflecting on the Martian invasion. He talks about his being in Times Square and seeing all the devastation caused by the Martians. He wandered around New York and wound up in Central and then says,

Suddenly, my eyes were attracted to the immense flock of black birds that hovered directly below me. They circled to the ground, and there before my eyes, stark and silent, lay the Martians, with the hungry birds pecking and tearing brown shreds of flesh from their dead bodies. Later when their bodies were examined in the laboratories, it was found that they were killed by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared... It may be that the destruction of the Martians is only a reprieve.

Strange it now seems to sit in my peaceful study at Princeton writing down this last chapter of the record begun at a deserted farm in Grover's Mill. Strange to see from my window the university spires dim and blue through an April haze. Strange to watch children playing in the streets. Strange to see young people strolling on the green, where the new spring grass heals the last black scars of a bruised earth. Strange to watch the sightseers enter the museum where the dissembled parts of a Martian machine are kept on public view. Strange when I recall the time when I first saw it, bright and clean-cut, hard, and silent, under the dawn of that last great day.

Then Orson Wells puts his postscript upon the

This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night. . . so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C.B.S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no's Halloween.

Interestingly, both the War of the Worlds from both Welles and Wells were about more than science fiction issues connected to invasion forces. The Chicago Tribune wrote, " would be more tactful to say that some members of the radio audience are a trifle retarded mentally" merely to assume that the invasion was all science fiction. In both versions of the War of the Worlds, other issue having to do with invading ones space come into play. H.G. Wells' novel questioned the British Empire's conduct in the world at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. There indifferent attitude toward people in many, if not all, of their colonies caused some liberals to question that behavior. Name a colony...any colony. Try any of the nearly two dozen in Africa. Did the Brits treat the locals as people or were the Brits interest in making money and control?

The Rhodes Colossus, which spanned the African continent from the Cape to Cairo.

The Rhodes Colossus, which spanned the African continent from the "Cape to Cairo."

Go to the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, or the Southeast Asia, and ask the same question about dealing with the local inhabitants as equals in the human family. At best, it was condescending, and at worst, it was slavery. The British controlled at the last part of the 19th century and the first part of the 20th century 25% of the landmass of the world and 400 million inhabitants of that part of the world.

After WWI, the British Empire has dwindled down to a dozen small island and the British Isles. Within the British Isles, Northern Ireland and Scotland are close to leaving. Northern Ireland is discussing with the Irish Republic union, and Scotland will be voting for independence on September 18, 2014.

While the British Empire began to fade away, America at first reluctantly replaced it. However, Americans need to learn from the past, as Santayana warned, or we will repeat many of their mistakes. We have politicians in Washington consumed in fear of the future. It is a near precise parallel with England back in time of H.G. Wells. The Martians are not invading us, but change has invaded us.

Case in point: healthcare reform. Some invaders from another world have introduce universal healthcare reform to our world. That invasion will cause frightening changes or so they fear. No longer will 40 million Americans live and die without health insurance. Many of the 45,000 Americans, who die annually without seeking treatment for medical issues because they lack healthcare insurance, won't have to die.

How is this any different from how the English dealt with their colonies throughout the world? This includes the colonies that the English have in the British Isles: Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. This indifference toward other human beings is not some sort of virtue or high calling. It is wrong. This essay is a 21st century versions of Wars of the Worlds, but it is located in America.

What is bizarre is that the haves are already paying for much of the emergency care that some Americans get in hospitals who are without health insurance. The haves indifference is coming back to attack them. We spend nearly twice as much for health insurance than any other Western country and our longevity ranks us 40th just behind Taiwan but in front of Qatar. Our infant mortality ranks behind 34th behind Cuba and ahead of Malta. Both the longevity and infant mortality are based upon UN data.

That is a logical disconnect...spend more money by far and get less for it. Duh. The political right in America needs to wake up from their dream Halloween invaders. It will cost them in the end.

If you would like to listen to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds...

This is an excellent analysis of the effects of the broadcast.


Scottish independence: Yes campaign

Scottish independence flag

Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.

Obama signs health insurance reform bill

Obama Signing the Affordable Care Act

Visit the Obamacare page to read more about this topic.

Forrest Gump Film Poster

Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.