Sunday, January 08, 2012

What Education?

I thought on the Documentary Channel they finally had something to interest me.  A show called War Is Not A Game about the Geneva Conventions on warfare.  Well I thought so until two minutes in.

The documentary is showing overhead footage of Napoleon invading Russia as the snow swirls.  Of the 700,000 troops 80% would never return the female narrator says.  Then she continues with about the victor would tend to his own wounded after a battle.  That the wounded of the defeated would be left where they are unless they were officers.  Then we get to the instant where I changed the channel.

The narrator called taking care of wounded enemy officers 'noblesse oblige.'  Excuse me? 

The reason why the militaries of that time would care about captured officers and not the conscripted cannon-fodder is easy to understand, officers are nobility and could be ransomed.  Nobles would consider conscripts as beneath their notice so why bother with saving them?

Also in common American parlance, at least where I grew up, the term ' noblesse oblige' means those of higher economic standing have an obligation to look after or help those of less privileged economic standing.  It was one of those ways to try and sell FDR had good intentions for everyone in the United States - he was raised to believe it was his obligation to help the rest of us.

Being the dutiful sort I decided to do further research on this term.  According to Dictionary, the term is French in origin from the 1830s to 1840s.  Several decades after that Corsican corporal invaded Russia.  Wow, another whoops for the documentary crew.  Makes one wonder if they really know anything and taints the quality of the research for the rest of the show.  But I did not stick around to watch the rest of the show.

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