Thinking about that general idea, this fine song from the Korgis, circa 1980, just popped into the old frontal cortex. But why was I thinking while watching a popular, but of course low-rent, TV show?
Well, I wasn't until Corey Harrison, the grandson and heir of the Las Vegas Gold & Silver pawn shop featured on "Pawn Stars" stated, during a failed transaction to buy a 1940 Indian military motorcycle with sidecar that had been sent to Europe before the U.S. entered the war, that the French surrendered and "didn't fire a shot." After giving consideration to the fact that the younger stars of the show, though now probably millionaires (life's fair, you know), are about as educated as stumps, the shocking thought occurred to me that most of the domestic population, most of the time, also doesn't know much of anything beyond their uninformed prejudices and has no awareness of their situation or feel any need to improve on it. The grandfather on the show had said previously that John Wayne was a "great American hero." And most of his generation as well as all those of conservative bent think that also. When Republic Pictures lobbied successfully to spare him from the draft, Wayne was pressured a little to defy them and enlist, but he thought not. So he and Reagan, another great hero in the imagination of many, spent the war all cozy in Hollywood. Never let the facts influence your beliefs, fellow citizens.
So, Corey, in case you might want to learn something, it went like this:
In the official press release after the fall of France, the Germans (quoted from the English-language "Facts in Review" for July 22, 1940) referred to a "desperately resisting enemy," and that "fighting the enemy rear guards was heavy at first." By their own tally, they suffered 156,942 total casualties from those who "didn't fire a shot". Somehow the French lost 217,310 killed, missing and wounded as well as 792 - 1274 airplanes (records differ), and one fortification alone fired 15,802 artillery rounds at the invader. So if that's not serious fighting, I wonder what is.
A number of interrelated factors sunk the French, but an inexplicable desire to give up immediately was not among them. The bureaucracy and the military was frozen twenty-five years in the past; old, tradition-bound and conservative. Nonproductive ideological fights with the left consumed their energy, and no one wanted to admit that the horrors of the Great War were clearly coming again. And no contemporary American spouting nonsense about "freedom fries" could ever see the parallels between himself and a stodgy interwar European.
(At the beginning of the Korean War, our WWII-era "bazooka" anti-tank rockets just bounced off the enemy's Soviet-designed tanks. Were the U.S. military and Congress in the late 1940s lost in navel-gazing just like their French counterparts in the 1930s? So one might asssume our military planners would keep an eye on Soviet armor developments henceforth. But in Vietnam, since they thought that North Vietnam would never employ armor, there was no need to do so, right? Our pathetic LAW antitank rockets bounced off even the enemy's light BP-7s when they showed up. Deja vu all over again.)