Elliot: The Fourth Conspiracy


So I hear we had an Independence Day. (Or Almost Independence Day, as Van Morrison would sing. And did.)

Actually, I couldn’t help but hear we held an Independence Day; around sunset, two large mortars started firing on central Iowa City from the parking lot next door. What? I thought. The Jade Held Conspiracy Theory is true? The reverberations shook the house, and the cats hid in my storage room and haven’t come out since.

Well, OK, it’s actually not Jade Held, it’s the Jade Helm Conspiracy Theory. But I was a little excited; so many thousands and thousands of right-wing conspiracy theories, and not one of them had ever come true. Remember the good old days of black U.N. helicopters swooping in to take over the United States? And the bar codes on the backs of highway signs were secret instructions on how to get to Nebraska? Ah, the good old days.

(Why, exactly, or how, helicopters would use highway signs was never quite clear, and why the U.N., let alone anyone else, would want to go to Nebraska was even muddier.)

They just don’t make conspiracy theories like they used to. Maybe there’s a shortage of grassy knolls. Oh, there’s the Benghazi Conspiracy Theory, and the investigation into it is now in its 36th or 37th incarnation. But the Benghazi thing meanders more than the Mississippi River on a curvy day.

Meanwhile, back at the mortars next door, they weren’t part of Jade Helm. They were shooting fireworks for the adoring Fourth of July crowd. And they weren’t exactly in the parking lot next door, they were in Hubbard Park. And I don’t live next door to Hubbard, the IMU does, and I’m not you.

So I must have been the victim of some bending of time and space that Einstein and Stephen Hawking are fluent in. (I’m not. That foreign language wasn’t offered in high school, and when I got to college, the foreign language I was interested in was called girls.)

On the other hand, the cats still believe in the conspiracy theory; they’re not having any of this Independence Day nonsense.

Not that the Fourth is nonsense, but it is curious. Who exactly became independent on that day in July 1776 the white men in wigs signed the Declaration?

Well, nobody. There was still a war to fight. And that didn’t end until slightly more than five years later (and one famous crossing of the Delaware River), when the armies of George Washington and French Comte de Rochambeau trapped British Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis and his army in Yorktown, Virginia.

With no escape to the sea (the French Navy had blockaded Chesapeake Bay), Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on Oct. 19, 1781. And that sealed the American victory in the Revolutionary War.

Oh, there were some messy details to be cleared up (details, details), and the Treaty of Paris wasn’t signed until two years later. But on that day in 1781, America achieved independence.

So why the Fourth and not Oct. 19?

Well, the Fourth is catchier than the 19th, I’ll give you that (those born on Oct. 19 probably disagree).

But I suspect a conspiracy.

So do the cats, wherever they are.

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