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KPCC's Molly Peterson to recount the War of 1812, our teenage war

August 19, 1812: the first victory at sea by USS Constitution over HMS Guerriere.
August 19, 1812: the first victory at sea by USS Constitution over HMS Guerriere.
Anton Otto Fischer

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If Team Off-Ramp cares about one thing, it's passion. So, if KPCC's environment reporter Molly Peterson is working on something that really has nothing to do with Southern California, we'll give her a pass if there's passion, which there is. Also, nobody else seems to be doing much with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which James M. Lundberg calls "America's most bumbling, most confusing, and most forgotten conflict." Molly will be blogging about the war, starting Friday, which is when President Madison officially aired his grievances with Great Britain. Why will she be doing so? Bill Murray. As she writes on her blog: The War of 1812, Bill Murray, and America itself have more in common than you think, and if you like one of those things, the other two aren’t so bad either.

“We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re 10 and 1!” Bill Murray tells his unit. “We’re Americans. With a capital A, huh? You know what that means? Do you? That means that our forefathers…were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts.”

John Winger was wrong about 10 and 1. But I think Bill Murray was right about plenty else. The War of 1812 happened at a time in our history when we don’t like to admit that we had no idea what we were doing, and we were screwing up all over the place.

Sometimes it’s good to be made humble. Because that’s when you remember that you’re maybe more like the people around you than you think.