Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The America of the Canon

"It is always a joy to meet an American."

Is it possible that we've been misunderstanding what Sherlock Holmes was saying with that line all these years. I mean, think about it . . . .

a.) Sherlock Holmes had a wicked and sly sense of humor.

b.) Sherlock Holmes loved investigating crime.

c.) Who were the Americans that Sherlock Holmes usually met? Criminals.

In an era when American politicians are trying to push a mindset that Americans should fear anyone coming from another country, it's worthwhile to consider the subtle theme of those stories that we love so much: Trouble coming from outside one's country.

But in the case of England of the Victorian era, those "awful foreigners" that were ruining everything included Americans. And it included Americans a lot.

Watson's first recorded case: American on American crime. No Brits involved.

Watson's third recorded case: American blackmailer messing with European royalty.

Watson's fourth recorded case: British criminal using American basis for his con.

Watson's seventh recorded case: Evil American gang committing murder on British turf.

So out of the first seven cases that Watson and his literary agent thought would be best put in public view, the larger share involve American troubles for Great Britain.

Now, as a proper Conan Doyle supporter would point out, these cases were all fiction, which would put them exactly in the same realm as so many of the "Fear foreigners!" lines of thought we're hearing today from those trying desperately to justify the actions of a certain incompetent American.

So, as we get to celebrating America's Independence Day today, just think how much joy Sherlock Holmes would have if he were able to come live in America today!

Because there's a whole lot of us he'd find it a joy to meet, and a whole lot of us that we'd enjoy having him meet as well.

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