Tag Archives: The Onion

New Evidence Proves First Flag Made By Betsy Ross Actually Shirt For Gay Friend

From The Onion

November 22, 2010 | ISSUE 46•47

Nathaniel, whose bold sartorial choice became the enduring symbol of America.

PHILADELPHIA—Historians at the University of Pennsylvania announced the discovery this week of a personal diary from the late 18th century that reveals the first U.S. flag sewed by Betsy Ross was originally intended as a shirt for her flamboyant gay friend Nathaniel.

“This has completely upended the accepted narrative behind the first American flag,” said historian Kenneth Atwood, who led the team of scholars analyzing the long-forgotten journal of prominent Philadelphia homosexual Nathaniel Linsley. “Now we can say with certainty that our nation’s most enduring symbol of freedom, strength, and prosperity is actually just the result of Nathaniel’s desire for a sassy, tight-fitting top.”

“We’ve all been taught that the 13 stars and stripes of the first U.S. flag represented the original 13 colonies, but this is simply not the case,” Atwood added. “In fact, Nathaniel thought that stripes were slimming, and he just really, really liked stars.”

Millions of schoolchildren across the nation proudly salute Nathaniel’s flamboyant garment every day.

As his diary attests, Linsley was a collector and dealer of footstools and divans, and was often seen about town in all manner of colorful attire. In the 1770s, he forged a close professional and personal friendship with the noted upholsterer Betsy Ross, the two of them meeting weekly over tea to exchange gossip and to complain about work, men, and the Intolerable Acts.

“It’s amazing to think that Nathaniel unknowingly designed the most iconic flag in world history,” said Historical Society of Pennsylvania researcher Maxwell Derosiers, who found the journal in the pocket of a period cheetah-print waistcoat in the organization’s basement. “From the American flags that flew over Fort McHenry and Iwo Jima, to the one planted on the surface of the moon, every incarnation of the Stars and Stripes traces its roots to this one very gay article of clothing”

“And I mean really gay,” Derosiers added. “This was a sleeveless crop top.”

By April 1776, the weather had grown too warm for the full-body leather outfits that Nathaniel favored in wintertime, and the British naval blockade prevented him from purchasing the imported European silks he typically wore in the summer, Derosiers explained. So he asked Betsy Ross to sew him what Nathaniel described as a “lightweight and super glitzy garment of fine cotton.”

“I seek to make a bold fashion proclamation and to stand apart from the drab gentlemen of today with their pedestrian wigs, facial powders, and lip rouges,” wrote Linsley on April 19, 1776. “Thusly, I met with my darling friend Miss Betsy this forenoon to discuss the design of a new shirt to match my vibrant sensibilities. O! how I look forward to donning the garment anon and jaunting about the town square!”

Over the next several days, Linsley consulted with Ross regularly, making several significant alterations to the design, which included adding a blue field on the back side of the shirt for “a little splash of color,” demanding ever more spangles, and selecting plain white fabric for the alternate stripes instead of see-through mesh, as he had originally envisioned.

By his own account, Linsley wore the shirt everywhere, from his daily trips candle shopping, to attending theater performances, to simply relaxing on the city green where he often watched the athletic young militiamen practice their drills.

According to a contemporary clipping from the Philadelphia General Advertiser that Linsley pasted in his journal, Gen. George Washington became mesmerized by the striking garment on July 7, 1776, when he caught sight of the colorfully clad Linsley playing his fife and “dancing a merry cotillion” outside what is now known as Independence Hall.

“This resplendently bedecked man, with his pet bald eagle perched on his shoulder, strutted about with unabashed confidence and pride, like America itself,” Washington is quoted as saying in the article. “At once, I knew I must make this radiant son of liberty’s shirt into a glorious flag o’er our nation!”

Historians claimed Washington’s appreciation for the flamboyant garment was shared by the whole of the Continental Congress, which soon proudly adopted the shirt as the official standard of the newly established United States.

“Thanks to the chance discovery of this diary, we now know that Nathaniel Linsley, a homosexual man, is the true father of the American flag,” Atwood said. “And from now on, when we look up at Old Glory flying proudly above, we’ll see the very same red, white, and blue that he wore tightly across his chest more than two centuries ago.”

“Though, lamentably,” Atwood added, “without the pricey sequin overlay he so desperately wanted.”


White History Year Resumes

From The Onion

March 5, 2003 | ISSUE 39•08

 WASHINGTON, DC—With Black History Month over, U.S. citizens are putting aside thoughts of Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver to resume the traditional observation of White History Year.

A stamp honoring European-American aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh is unveiled as part of White History Year celebrations.

White History Year, which runs annually from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, with a 28-day break for Black History Month in February, is dedicated to the recognition of European-Americans’ contributions to American politics and culture.

“Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. are all well and good,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist at a banquet celebrating the arrival of White History Year, “but now is the time to reflect on the accomplishments of such whites as Babe Ruth, Alexander Graham Bell, and Presidents Washington through Bush. Let’s use these next 11 months to remember the other American history.”

“Whites have contributed so much to this country,” Frist continued. “Did you, for example, know that a white man, Jonas Salk, discovered the cure for polio? It’s true.”

From now until Feb. 1, 2004, educators will eschew discussions of Rosa Parks in favor of Andrew Carnegie, Neil Armstrong, and Tim Allen. Schools nationwide will shelve African-American history pamphlets in favor of such Caucasiacentric materials as the Macmillan & Rowe American History Textbook New Revised Standard Edition and Encyclopedia Britannica.

Scholars say there is a remarkable wealth of documented white history to explore.

“There’s so much more white history out there than you might imagine,” said Dr. James Corman, a Princeton University history professor. “America’s publishing houses, newspapers, movie studios, magazines, and radio stations have kept remarkably thorough records of white Americans’ accomplishments.”

White History Year will also be commemorated on television, with various networks airing special programming recognizing whites’ contributions to society. The History Channel will set aside the Tuskegee Airmen documentaries that have dominated its schedule throughout February, instead presenting programs on Chuck Yeager, the white man who broke the sound barrier, and Paul Revere, a key white figure in the nation’s fight for independence from England. A&E’s Biography will spotlight such white luminaries as Johnny Unitas, Mae West, and Edward R. Murrow. Between prime-time programs, NBC will air White History Minute segments hosted by white actress Bernadette Peters.

Americans of every color will set aside their differences to celebrate White History Year.

“I think it’s good to give people a closer look at a culture they usually don’t even think about,” said Gary, IN, realtor Willie Anderson, a respected member of the city’s black community. “I mean, it’s right in front of you every day. It’s such a huge part of your life. You’re surrounded by it from the day you’re born until the day you die, so it’s easy to take for granted that you already know just about everything there is to know about it.”

Added Anderson: “Do you realize that Henry Ford, a white man, invented the ‘assembly line,’ a mass-production technique that revolutionized industry around the world? They had something about it on TV again last night.”


Historical Archives: Is Our Nation Ready For A Negro Citizen?

From The Onion

October 3, 2008 | ISSUE 44•41

By Mr Tho. Bell, Esq.
Of New Jersey, States Man, Attorney At LAW, & Civic Do Gooder, Exalted Sagamore Of The Sons Of Partial Liberty

GENTLE MEN: I wish to address the most Brow furrowing Subject of the dusky African, and his Place in our fledgling Union. Scores benefit from the Sweat of his Labour, yet even the most sagacious among we White Folk can not envision a Role for him beyond that of a bonded Servant. Yet I maintain, quite contrary to the perceiv’d Customs & Mores of our current Age, that in Deed, our United States can accommodate the Citizenship of the Negro, and should do so at the earliest Convenience. Is our new Nation ready for the Negro Citizen? I reply with a resounding Yes.

I ask my fellow Men to leave the Tar Barrels with the Ship Wright, and pluck not an innocent Flock of Fowl, and permit me to make my Argument. To first address the Subject of Negro Citizenship, we must define what it is to be a Citizen. One would be surpris’d at how much Latitude we have in this Area. Though much has been made of Late of the Natural Rights of Man, and indeed a War of Independence was recently won by Men asserting their Natural Rights, the People remain undecid’d about the Degree to which Liberty should be assum’d for All. The Laws on this Matter are few and quite pliant. A Rumor circulates that not even the Articles of Confederation, our governing Charter, defines a Citizen, though this can not be affirmed as no one is sure where the Document is at present, the Parchment having last been seen four Years prior employed by a Delegate to kill a Fly. So vague is the Meaning of Citizenship that it need not mean Any Thing. A Citizen could be Something that could be yoked to a Plough. This is where the Negro comes in.

It may interest and amuse Many to know that there already exists, in our Towns and Hamlets, several thousand free Negroes of various Trades. These Free Negroes are quite a Curiosity, as they stroll about with their limbs free from Shackles, and in a few Cases, they are even Shod. Yet I see no Hazard in making Citizens of these colored Men. For if Citizenship is granted to the Negro, this does not necessarily preclude the Ability for the Republic to recognize other Strata of Society above him. For example, the Bottom Most Rung of the Ladder of the American Common Wealth would be the Citizen, followed by the Criminal, then the Back Woods Man, then the Stable Boy, the Yeoman, the Tinker, the Hang Man, the Overseer, the Wool Merchant, the Planter, &c.;, &c.;, and then so on up to the King. And of course we shall one Day have a King. But I shall not rule out an Emperor either.

At this Juncture, I wish to suggest a most Singular & Innovative Notion, one so entirely Original that it would make even a Madison or Jefferson blanch with Envy. I propose that this Negro Citizenship, such as it is, need not even extend to the Whole of a Negro’s Physical Person. Exempli gratia, it would be a shameful Squandering of Effort, in Deed the Height of Folly, to grant Citizenship to the Negro’s Shins, Fore Arms, and Any Thing above the Neck. I estimate that the ideal Ratio of Citizenship to Negro be Three-Fifths, give or take a Fifth. Let us err on the Side of Take. The remaining Two-Fifths need not go to Waste, how ever, as they could be divided amongst the Free White Inhabitants, who could always use the extra Consideration. This Three-Fifths Concept, I need hardly note, could benefit States of higher Negro Abundance, as it could give them a greater Influence in the Polity. Surely Georgia and the Carolinas can appreciate such an Advantage, having enjoy’d a long Tradition of Unfairness extending to their Earliest Settlement. Whether the States resolve to continue their Union under the Aegis of the Articles of Confederation, or another Governing Agreement to be draft’d at a Later Date, they should consider codifying the Three-Fifths Concept in some Incarnation.

Esteem’d Colleagues of mine are firm, yet civil, in their Objection to my Views. They adopt a long View, as they call it, on Negro Citizenship, saying that it is an Idea that can only be gradually introduc’d, so that the Populace may be properly inured, a Process that will not be fully achiev’d until the Midst of the Twentieth Century, perhaps about the Year MCMLXIV, and then after significant and disquieting Agitation from the Negro Folk themselves. Yet I firmly believe that to delay or forestall this Question could result in enormous Tragedy and incalculable Loss of all Manner of Opportunity for our infant Union, let alone do Nothing to settle the Issue of the Negro in America. Unless, of course, we decide to ship them all back to Africa.


History Channel Admits To Profiting From Nazi Documentaries

From the Onion

November 13, 2002 | ISSUE 38•42

NEW YORK—The History Channel confessed Monday that it used Nazi footage to fatten its coffers. “The time has come to bring our network’s shameful legacy to light,” History Channel president Warren Brabender said. “Over the past 10 years, more than $300 million in ad revenue has been generated through the airing of Nazi documentaries.” The channel will likely be required to pay reparations to Americans who viewed the atrocities.


Civil War Enthusiasts Burn Atlanta To the Ground

From the Onion

October 29, 1996 | ISSUE 30•12

In an exciting historical reenactment, members of the Maryland Civil War Preservation Society destroyed all of downtown Atlanta Sunday.

ATLANTA—The city of Atlanta was destroyed and 230,000 were killed Sunday when a group of overzealous Civil War buffs marched through the Georgian capital, burning it to the ground.

“It was very exciting,” said Bob Gerhardt, 43, president of the Maryland Civil War Preservation Society, the group responsible for the attack. “We rode in on horseback just after dawn, crossing the Chattahoochee and approaching the city from the west, just as General Sherman did in 1864. We even used the same kind of kerosene as the Union Army. No detail was spared.”

The attack began just before 6 a.m., when guests at Atlanta’s Peachtree Plaza hotel were awakened by the sound of a cast-iron cannonball blasting through the hotel lobby. Within an hour, the 71-story building was engulfed in flames. By noon, the flames had spread through the entire downtown area.

“First the Braves lose the World Series, and now my whole family is dead,” said Atlanta resident Ben Halleran. “This has been quite a week.”

While the attack caused some $2.1 billion in damage, it did have a positive side, as the city’s 124,000 black residents were freed.

“Run, run free!” Preservation Society member Phil Spillner, a Baltimore-area dentist shouted to a group of black men near the CNN Building. “You have all been freed! God bless President Lincoln!”

Nearby, at the Georgia Dome, a battalion of Union soldiers stormed onto the field during the third quarter of the Atlanta Falcons’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, emancipating a number of Falcons, including All-Pro linebacker Jessie Tuggle.

According to Gerhardt, the Maryland history buffs plan to continue their assault on the heart of Dixie, marching all the way to Savannah.

“We will drive the Rebels to the sea,” said Phyllis Borelli, a Silver Spring, MD, legal secretary. “Ooh, this is so fascinating—I feel like I’m really there!”

The Atlanta attack is the most destructive historical reenactment since 1991, when a group of Cleveland-area World War II buffs dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.


Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What’s Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions

From The Onion

September 28, 2011 | ISSUE 47•39

Trying to avoid repeating bad things we did in the past is a good idea, historians say.

WASHINGTON—With the United States facing a daunting array of problems at home and abroad, leading historians courteously reminded the nation Thursday that when making tough choices, it never hurts to stop a moment, take a look at similar situations from the past, and then think about whether the decisions people made back then were good or bad.

According to the historians, by looking at things that have already happened, Americans can learn a lot about which actions made things better versus which actions made things worse, and can then plan their own actions accordingly.

“In the coming weeks and months, people will have to make some really important decisions about some really important issues,” Columbia University historian Douglas R. Collins said during a press conference, speaking very slowly and clearly so the nation could follow his words. “And one thing we can do, before making a choice that has permanent consequences for our entire civilization, is check real quick first to see if human beings have ever done anything like it previously, and see if turned out to be a good idea or not.”

“It’s actually pretty simple: We just have to ask ourselves if people doing the same thing in the past caused something bad to happen,” Collins continued. “Did the thing we’re thinking of doing make people upset? Did it start a war? If it did, then we might want to think about not doing it.”

In addition, Collins carefully explained that if a past decision proved to be favorable—if, for example, it led to increased employment, caused fewer deaths, or made lots of people feel good inside— then the nation should consider following through with the same decision now.

While the new strategy, known as “Look Back Before You Act,” has raised concerns among people worried they will have to remember lots of events from long ago, the historians have assured Americans they won’t be required to read all the way through thick books or memorize anything.

Instead, citizens have been told they can just find a large-print, illustrated timeline of historical events, place their finger on an important moment, and then look to the right of that point to see what happened afterward, paying especially close attention to whether things got worse or better.

“You know how the economy is not doing so well right now?” Professor Elizabeth Schuller of the University of North Carolina said. “Well, in the 1930s, financial markets—no, wait, I’m sorry. Here: A long, long time ago, way far in the past, certain things happened that were a lot like things now, and they made people hungry and sad.”

“How do you feel when you’re hungry? Doesn’t feel good, does it?” Schuller added. “So, maybe we should avoid doing those things that caused people to feel that way, don’t you think?”

Concluding their address, the panel of scholars provided a number of guidelines to help implement the strategy, reminding the nation that the biggest decisions required the most looking back, and stressing the importance of checking the past before one makes a decision, not afterward, when the decision has already been made.

While many citizens have expressed skepticism of the historians’ assertions, the majority of Americans have reportedly grasped the concept of noticing bad things from earlier times and trying not to repeat them.

“I get it. If we do something bad that happened before, then the same bad thing could happen again,” said Barb Ennis, 48, of Pawtucket, RI. “We don’t want history to happen again, unless the thing that happened was good.”

“When you think about it, a lot of things have happened already,” Ennis added. “That’s what history is.”

In Washington, several elected officials praised the looking-back-first strategy as a helpful, practical tool with the potential to revolutionize government.

“The things the historians were saying seemed complicated at first, but now it makes sense to me,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who reversed his opposition to oil-drilling safety regulations after checking past events and finding a number of “very, very sad things [he] didn’t like.” “I just wished they’d told us about this trick before.”


Museum-Appreciation Tips

From The Onion

March 12, 2003 | ISSUE 39•09

Museum guests in front of Van Gogh self-portrait

Museum-going can be an enjoyable and enriching experience. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your next visit:

  • In large museums like the Louvre, it is virtually impossible to see everything in one day. This is why jogging is both acceptable and encouraged.
  • If you don’t experience a painting with all five senses, you aren’t truly experiencing it.
  • Beware: Some museums are more reputable than others. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City? Pretty reputable. The Flagstaff Groundhog & Jackalope Hall of Fame? Less so.
  • Why enter the museum when the only stuff you can afford is in the gift shop?
  • When on a guided tour of a history museum, at every civilization, ask whether the men of that era ever had an overpowering urge to dress as a woman and be caressed by a big, strong man.
  • Though many are painfully dull, some museums gots cars in ’em.
  • Remember: “Suggested donation” means waltz in free, even if you are loaded.
  • Be sure to dress appropriately for your museum visit, wearing knee-high boots, sturdy rubber gloves, and a heavy apron. Did I say museum? I meant salmon cannery.
  • When looking at the exhibit on genetically modified super-spiders, try not to get too distracted by Kirsten Dunst.
  • This month, the National Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, WI, is unveiling a new exhibit honoring those slain while serving the mustard industry. It is a moving tribute to America’s mustard dead and is highly recommended.
  • If short on money, get a friend to enter a museum and have him or her describe everything to you via walkie-talkie.
  • Spend a minimum of 30 seconds, ideally 45, staring at each exhibit so no one will suspect that every molecule in your body is screaming to get the hell out of there and go to the mall.

Area Woman Can’t Understand Concept of Suggested Donation

From The Onion

May 10, 2001 | ISSUE 37•19

NEW YORK–During a Tuesday visit to the American Museum of Natural History, Omaha resident Mary Stefano, 49, struggled to understand the concept of suggested donation. “So, if the sign says $10 is the suggested donation, that means I have to pay $10, right?” Stefano asked the admission-counter cashier. “Because, if you could pay less, why wouldn’t everyone pay less?” After the cashier explained that $10 is what most adults pay, but museum visitors have the option of paying more or less depending on their ability, Stefano replied, “But if I don’t pay $10, I won’t get to see the whole museum, right?” After another 10 minutes of queries, Stefano was escorted out of the museum by security.


Area Man Way Too Into Local County History

From The Onion

January 13, 1999 | ISSUE 35•01

 LEWANAHO COUNTY, WI—Gary Pavlik, an assistant librarian at the public library in Vida, the seat of Lewanaho County, is way too into local county history, sources reported Monday.

Gary Pavlik stands next to the Peck Cabin, one of Lewanaho County's many notable historical sites.

“Up until about 1890, Lewanaho County was famed across north-central Wisconsin for its sugar-beet production,” said Pavlik, 37, the county’s unofficial historian. “But two factors put an end to its predominance: a blight which wiped out much of the beet crop in 1891 and 1893, and a growing interest in cranberry farming, which was ideal for Lewanaho County’s vast tracts of marshy land. Incidentally, I should mention that the blight was bacterial in origin, and not a fungus, as some of the old-timers in our community would have you believe.”

Vida resident Eleanor Sloane, 66, who has known Pavlik since he was a boy, said he has always had a passion for Lewanaho County history.

“At first, I thought Gary’s hobby was a positive thing, since girls didn’t seem much interested in him and he needed something to occupy his time,” Sloane said. “And it still is positive, in many respects. But numbering and cataloguing each plank of wood in the Swilley’s Creek covered bridge off Highway PD, and then determining which sawmill each plank came from? That’s just sad.”

Said Pavlik: “An interesting thing to note about the covered bridge at Swilley’s Creek is that it was built by a construction company that was once owned by the third cousin once-removed of the great-grandfather of—you guessed it—Eleanor Sloane. I should also mention that at the time the bridge was built, 1892, the cousin, Ekvind Solberg, had sold his company to Alfred F. Griebel, who would later become county supervisor. Upon its sale, Ekvind joined his brother Anders to manage his grain elevator in nearby Plovis, which did a modestly successful business before eventually shutting down in the early 1960s.”

Pavlik’s latest project is studying the life and work of Leopold Berlot, Lewanaho County’s first Belgian and the inventor of an early prototype of the modern bicycle, a five-wheeled, hand-pedaled contraption called the “pentacopede.”

“Sadly, Berlot’s invention failed to catch on among the general public, and he soon returned to farming,” said Pavlik, who has tracked down and interviewed more than two dozen descendants of Berlot. “Holder of some 30-odd patents, good old Leopold was one of the more colorful characters in Lewanaho County history, that’s for certain.”

Pavlik is also an avid preservationist, having saved over 75 volumes of court dockets, some dating back as far as the 1870s, from the Lewanaho County Courthouse upon discovering that they were earmarked for incineration. He subsequently donated the dockets to the Lewanaho County Historical Society.

“We were touched by Gary’s generosity, but, unfortunately, we really didn’t have a place for them,” said Catherine Ernst, director of the Lewanaho County Historical Society. “We’ve been hard-pressed for space lately, and Gary’s donation of 77 thick, oversized leather-bound ledgers only complicated matters.”

Pavlik said citizens of Lewanaho County “can rest well” knowing that he is hard at work preserving their rich heritage.

“It’s astonishing how many notable things have taken place right here in our own county over the years,” Pavlik said. “The best part is, there’s always something new to learn.”

“Gary knows everything about us,” Vida resident Dick Switzer said. “Where and when we were born, what we did for a living, who we married, how many children we had. It’s really pretty creepy.”

Pavlik’s latest book, the 968-page A Short History Of Lewanaho County, Wisconsin, published by Pavlik Press, is available at the Lewanaho County Historical Society and nowhere else.


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