Rewriting History

So, considering history … if we determine to no longer teach about slavery, about Jim Crow … what will we replace it with? We cannot simply ignore the fact that Black people existed. Young people aren’t stupid … don’t you think they will ask questions? And what about books and movies like “Gone with the Wind” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”??? Will we destroy all copies of those? What do we replace the now-illegal facts of history with? Our friend Michael Seidel has written an excellent, thought-provoking post … thank you, Michael!!!

Michael Seidel, writer

In the Smithsonian Magazine’s excerpt of Narrative Tension, Inc.. From the forthcoming book Making History: The Storytellers Who Shaped the Past by Richard Cohen to be published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed by permission, Richard Cohen writes this:

‘Around the same time, between 1934 and 1936, the Politburo, or policy-making body, of the Russian Communist Party focused on national history textbooks, and Stalin set scholars to writing a new standard history. The state became the nation’s only publisher. Orwell had it right in Nineteen Eighty-Four, where the Records Department is charged with rewriting the past to fit whomever Oceania is currently fighting. The ruling party of Big Brother “could thrust its hand into the past and say of this or that event, it never happened—that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death.”’

He is writing about the old U.S.S.R., the Soviet Union, and how…

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25 thoughts on “Rewriting History

  1. Thank you for sharing!!… “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.” (John F. Kennedy)… 🙂

    It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” ( Issac Asimov)… 🙂

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    • Indeed, nothing remains static, everything changes, and we must be versatile enough to deal with change. However, when change takes us a step backward, when it is destructive rather than constructive, then we must do what we can to alter the path of change toward better solutions. Thank you, Dutch.

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    • Well … these days it’s hard to say, for the Republicans seem to largely toe the party line. It’s mainly the evangelicals, a cult-like branch of Christianity, who are very close-minded and would like never to have to answer questions from their children about racism, homosexuality, other religions, etc. So, they convinced a large portion of the Republicans to get on board with the idea of erasing the dark parts of our history from the curriculum, and the idea seems to be taking hold, particularly in the southern states. At first I thought, “This will never fly!” But now, I see it flying, especially in Florida, Alabama, and Texas.

      I have an appointment on May 2nd and the cardiologist will decide then whether to try the Cardioversion again or not. I’m definitely better than I was a few short months ago, but my progress is slow and seems to have stagnated of late. Still, I’m not complaining, for at least I can walk all the way to the kitchen without passing out now! I can even stand long enough to unload the dishwasher or fold a load of laundry! So, it’s progress, but I’m not running any marathons yet. 😊

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      • Religion and politics are never a good mix… Sigh…😉
        Good to hear there is some progress. 😀 Even if it’s slow. Keep at it. May 2nd? Still a month away. Has the doctor prescribed some mild exercise?

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        • Truer words were never spoken! In fact, it seems to me that religion is the root cause of most of the world’s problems!

          Yes, I’m not a patient person and I keep expecting progress to move along much faster than it is! I was chuffed today, though, when my neighbor’s kid stopped by and told me how good it is to see me able to walk and answer the door now! Small steps. No, but I do try to get some exercise each day, climbing stairs a few times a day, lifting small (3-pound) weights, and just doing house chores as much as possible. I considered buying a treadmill, but we have no space for one, not even a small one! We have long since outgrown this 1,190-square-foot apartment!

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  2. Jill, I posted this a few weeks ago and have updated here. It is in synch with your post. Thanks for sharing it. Keith

    “It troubles me that so many state legislatures have passed laws to restrict public school teachers from teaching our bad actions in history under the premise it is bothersome. Slavery of African-Americans and its persecuting brother the Jim Crow era did happen. Genocide of Native Americans and stealing their land did happen. Firing gays and lesbians who worked in government jobs under the Lavender Scare did happen. Blackballing so-called Communists under the McCarthy witch hunts did happen. And, we did detain Japanese Americans in camps.

    We may not have had a Holocaust in the US where 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, but Jews did get persecuted here, too. We must know these lessons. If we fail to learn history, we are destined to repeat it. And, that concerns me.

    So, take a trip to the well-done Greensboro Civil Rights Museum at the site of the Greensboro Four sit in or another similar museum close by to your area. Or, listen to the song “Strange Fruit” sadly sung by the great Billie Holiday, which was so profoundly disturbing about the lynching of African-Americans, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover tried to ban it from being played.

    Our country’s history is filled with imperfect leaders who sometimes failed to live up to our ideals. We should know the what, when and why these things were allowed to happen and avoid them in the future.”

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    • VERY WELL SAID!!! Thank you, Keith, for your wise assessment and words. Ultimately, as almost always happens, the truth will come out. How will our children look at us when they are 25 or 30 or even 50 and finally learn the truth, learn that they were lied to? And, like you, my greatest concern is that we will keep repeating the same horrible mistakes over and over if we hide the truth.

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      • Jill, thanks We must be diligent. There is so much history that has always remain untaught. I learned of the Lavender Scare, Tulsa massacre, Wilmington coup, eg only in the last ten years. I was unaware of heroes like Vivien Thomas, Temple Grandin and Alan Turing until dramatic movies were made about them. We Americans like our sports and entertainment history more.. Keith

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        • Quite so. Like you, I learned of those things only later in life, for even in college they weren’t taught. It is a sad commentary of the people of this nation that we learn about Babe Ruth decades before we learn about Alan Turing, and like you, I only heard of the Tulsa Massacre in about the last decade or so, same for the Lavender Scare. I remember history lessons in school … even then the history of this nation was whitewashed, thinking specifically of the settlers and their treatment of the Indigenous People … my schools painted a rosy picture of mutual cooperation and friendship, leaving out the fact that the settlers stole their land and committed genocide! And now we want to hide even more of our history??? INSANE!

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  3. Pingback: REWRITING HISTORY. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  4. It’s the new politics. Whatever new con which comes out of the US, the current uk government tries it out. Here the government sets the school curriculum, it tells the teachers what resources and books they can use. For years they warned about the threads to free speech and democracy that came from Russia and China. It was a smokescreen, the threat to free speech was way closer to hand.

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    • I think that both your country and mine have far too many rich arseholes in government whose main concern is their own power and wealth. The government here has always set the public school curriculum, but until recently it was done by educators within the government — people who wanted to give our young people the best opportunities for the future, which means teaching them not only the truth, but also how to think for themselves. And then along came the evangelical movement who want their children to be like the three little monkeys, “See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.” And the politicians saw a way to use that to their advantage. And that, my friend, is how this nation is devolving right before our very eyes. You’re right … the biggest threat comes from within, not from China or Russia … we have met the enemy and he is us. Sigh. Big hugs!

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  5. When the government gets to decide, what’s in the, history books, these future generations are, ruined for sure, because, unlike us who are, already, adults, we were, taught, with, everything intact, and, the next generation of children will become, swayed to whatever their government want them to believe, because, the government is controlling what is taught in the primary and secondary education years, and, the next generation won’t have enough of a perspective, to decide for themselves, what is right, or what is wrong, as they’re, taking in whatever the government is, feeding to them, and, imagine what the country would be like, if these are the, people who will be, ruling, over us…truly, very, scary, that’s for sure!

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    • Well … even we weren’t quite taught with everything intact … remember how we learned about how wonderful our relationship with the “Indians” was? Turns out, we stole their land and killed half, putting the other half on reservations, robbing them of their freedoms as well as their land. But yeah … to your point … we simply cannot allow our children to be taught only what certain religious and political cults want them to know … it is a great disservice to the future generations of this world! It IS scary … very scary.

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  6. history belongs to us all, winners and losers alike. Sterilisation of history does neither side any favours and just blur right and Wrong giving consciences leave to disappear and mistakes open too be repeated, usually at a high cost.

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    • We are putting chains on the young minds who might … just might … be able to make this world a bit better, to change the path we’re on, but not if we keep their minds dim and dull-witted as some seem to wish. The cost in this case could very well be life on earth … sigh.
      Cwtch

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