Jimmy Tomlin: "Ask Mr. History"

May. 20, 2013 @ 01:00 AM

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to “Ask Mr. History,” the newspaper column dedicated to expanding your knowledge of American history by answering real readers’ real questions about U.S. history.
I’m your host, Mr. History.
This is an extremely important service Mr. History is providing because, as you probably know, surveys have shown over and over that when it comes to U.S. history, we Americans are big doofuses. (Or is “doofi” the plural of “doofus”?) In fact, surveys indicate that approximately 80 percent of Americans stink when it comes to their knowledge of U.S. history.
The other 40 percent stink when it comes to their knowledge of math.
Anyway, you know what they say about history: If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. I know this to be true, because when I failed U.S. History in 10th grade, I had to repeat the class in 11th grade.
Now, on with the questions — and remember, these are real questions from real readers.

Reader: I’ve never seen this column in the paper before. How can these be real questions from real readers? I say you’re making them up.
Mr. History: Hey, punk, the last reader that accused me of that got hit in the head with a chalkboard eraser. Learn from THAT history, punk, and shut your mouth.

Reader: Why does the American flag have 13 stripes?
Mr. History: Excellent question. Betsy Ross, the seamstress who is credited with making the first flag, meant to give the flag an even dozen stripes, but she was among the 40 percent of Colonists who stunk at math.

Reader: What was the rallying cry of the Boston Tea Party?
Mr. History: Contrary to what most historians believe, it was not “No taxation without representation.” It was actually, “Look, you’s guys, I know we’re in the North here, but don’t you think you’s guys could put at least a little bit of freakin’ sugar in the tea? Criminy!”

Reader: What four words did Paul Revere repeatedly shout on his famous “midnight ride” across the dark Massachusetts countryside?
Mr. History: “Let’s go, Red Sox!”

Reader: Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Mr. History: Duh, at the bottom.

Reader: What was Patrick Henry famous for?
Mr. History: Patrick Henry was a well-known statesman from the Colonial era. Being from Virginia — and a close friend of Jerry Falwell — he once wagered his entire life savings on a Liberty University basketball game, uttering his most famous saying, “Give me Liberty or give me debt.”

Reader: Why was the Civil War called the Civil War? War isn’t civil.
Mr. History: Right you are, reader! That’s what is known as an oxymoron, similar to “jumbo shrimp,” “deafening silence,” “the living dead” and “The Reagan Memoirs.”

Well, that’s all the questions for today, dear readers. Thanks for joining us, and remember: If we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it. And I just KNOW you don’t want to have to read this column again, right?
jtomlin@hpe.com | 888-3579