Saturday, May 9, 2009

"Revisionist history"

I've more than a mild interest in history - when I read a book (infrequently), it's a good bet it's a history book: the Crusades, the American Civil War, the American Revolutionary War, medieval history in general, Biblical history, New Testament history.

I'm okay with "revisionist" history in the main: taking a different look at events, seeking alternative interpretations.

BUT - I expect the 'revisionist' historian to stick to the documented facts - not make up his/her own.

When, for example, Rep. Bachmann claims that the 1976 swine flu threat occurred under Carter (1976 = Ford), I have problems.
When BillO claims it was Americans who slaughtered SS prisoners of war at Malmedy during WWII, I have problems.

Interpret the past as you choose - BUT: interpret the PAST... NOT a fictional, inaccurate, lying version of the past!

A few quotations serve us well:
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
[George Santayana]
... coupled with:
"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble.
It's the things we know that just ain't so."

[Artemus Ward]
History really IS important - the folks concerned are motivated by things we all recognize in ourselves: greed, lust, ambition, honor. The crises they faced aren't all that different from those confronting us today. Their responses, and the effects of those responses, provide "teaching moments".

BUT - it's important to get the facts right! - otherwise, you're just telling fairy tales... or - to put it more bluntly - LYING!!!

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