753: Southern Half
On May 25, 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave a speech before a joint session of Congress, in which he set as a goal for the American people the task of landing a man on the moon and returning him successfully to earth. Though Kennedy didn't live to see that goal become a reality - he was assassinated in 1963 - the Apollo 11 lunar module landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in July, 1969.
During that speech, Kennedy said the sentence that the comic is referring to, and the map provided shows that the vast majority of the regions he mentioned are actually in the Northern Hemisphere, despite Kennedy calling them "the whole southern half of the globe", not to mention the Southern Hemisphere has regions which are not included (like Australia).
The actual meaning behind Kennedy's statement is likely a reference to the common lingo used describing the 'third world' as the 'Global South', which is a metaphorical rather than geographical description which includes all of the regions mentioned (though leaving out the USSR from Asia). At the time, a number of proxy wars between the U.S. and the USSR had broken out and were in progress in many third world countries across the entirety of the regions mentioned. Thus, Kennedy was describing the Cold War and his expectation that it would continue, and that the 'Global South' would be the actual battlefield. Out-of-context, and insisting on a literal geographic interpretation for the words, this part of the speech sounds particularly funny.
Another way to understand Kennedy's phrasing is a reference to the "southern half" of the land on earth. Because the area south of the equator is mostly water, the geographical centre of Earth (geometric centre of all land surfaces) is in Turkey, meaning that (with the exception of the Russian part of Asia) almost the entirety of the regions Kennedy listed are in the southern half of Earth's land surfaces.
The title text refers to a September 1962 speech Kennedy gave at Rice University. One of the most famous quotes from that speech is, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Randall suggests that all of the arguments Kennedy made for going to the moon could also serve the cause of many different "innovations", such as blowing up the moon, sending cloned dinosaurs into space, or, ridiculously, constructing a towering penis-shaped obelisk on Mars. Or, as seen here, eating a bag of pinecones.
- "The great battlefield for the defense and expansion of freedom today is the whole southern half of the globe - Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East."
- -John F. Kennedy, 1961 speech to Congress.
- [An ovoid world map, with Latin America colored in red, Africa in yellow, the Middle East in green, and Asia in Blue. There is an arrow pointing to the top of the map marked 'northern half', and another arrow pointing to the bottom half marked 'southern half.' The majority of these places are actually in the northern half.]
- Okay, so I'm half a century late on this, but it's been bugging me: did JFK own a globe?
add a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!